This all might be a bit much for Jesse Eisenberg.
“The Social Network” star has never been one to enjoy too much of the spotlight and the requirements of a non-stop awards campaign can be somewhat overwhelming the first go around. Last night, Eisenberg joined his director, David Fincher, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, producer Scott Rudin (making a rare L.A. appearance) and co-stars Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer to celebrate the early awards and box office success of “Network,” schmooze media (including a lot of awards press) and help promote the film’s DVD and Blu-ray releasing Tuesday.
The event was held at Spago’s in Beverly Hills and was quite a packed affair. Garfield, fresh from the “Spider-Man” set,” and Timberlake arrived later, so that meant most of the early attention went to Eisenberg. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with him.
The 27-year-old Oscar contender told me while he was shooting he didn’t think the movie was going to get “this big” and that he’s never been on such a long publicity campaign before. “Usually it’s just one or two events like this,” he noted. I tried to cheer him up and told him if he could make it through the middle of January it was cake. The whole thing is a marathon and you’re right turning the corner home at that point. Eisenberg actually laughed at that which was something of a relief. The “Zombieland” star also said he’s gotten much more notoriety from the release of “Network,” but that he’s still pretty much left alone in his hometown of New York. L.A.? Well, not as much.
[Above, Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal, Jesse Eisenberg and the producer of “The Social Network” and “True Grit,” Scott Rudin.]
Personally, I thought Eisenberg was very good in “Network,” but I’m not sure he deserves to be in the best actor five. Garfield, who was pretty much mobbed from the moment he arrived (do we really need to ask another “Spider-Man” question fellas? We got over a year until release), is probably more deserving in the best supporting actor race (in what’s turning out to be a harder nomination to land than expected). Still, the best thing about Eisenberg is that unlike some of his peers who insist they have stayed “grounded” and “down to earth” while you hear stories of their relatively new diva behavior, he still comes across as the shy actor I saw walking through the snow with no handlers when “The Squid and the Whale” premiered at Sundance almost six years ago. I’m not even sure he’d know how to put on a sales pitch show and, happily, that will only endear him more to the press as his career continues.
[Director David Fincher and Justin Timberlake celebrate “The Social Network.”]
As for the rest of the swank affair, Sony pulled out all the stops getting the entire cast in order including the very tall Armie Hammer (soon to play Leonardo DiCaprio’s onscreen boyfriend in Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar”) and an almost unrecognizable Timberlake. And it was just the beginning of what will be a very busy awards show and red carpet month for the entire “Social Network” crew. Just don’t tell that to Jesse, O.K.?