Jesse Eisenberg

“I don’t want to screw up”

Words: Rüdiger Sturm
Photo: Getty Images 

Jesse Eisenberg looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but don’t let the baby-faced “nerd” fool you. The 32-year-old has a sinister sense of humour, as our interview with the American Ultra star proves 

THE RED BULLETIN: Do you even want to do this interview?

JESSE EISENBERG: Of course, why wouldn’t I?

Because you recently turned the tables on the classic interview ritual by swapping roles with Kristen Stewart and asked each other questions…

We wanted to do something original, but most of the different interview possibilities seemed silly. I talked to my little sister who had just finished her gender studies course at university, and she suggested reversing roles. It sounded like a fun and refreshing way to promote the movie as opposed to doing a series of very monotonous interviews.

Do you get bored doing interviews?

Not bored. I mainly feel like I don’t want to screw up or say anything wrong. You want to say something nice about the movie, but I also want to be sincere. Sometimes that can be really easy, like American Ultra for example. But I have been in situations where you are a little nervous about the movie and that makes it a lot more difficult.

© YouTube/ Movieclips Trailers

Do you have a problem being in the public eye?

Not really, I am quite shy in real life, but performing is what I do for a living. I feel most exposed in one-on-one situations. An empty tube for example, where the only thing to look at is the person next to you. It is a strange dichotomy that a lot of actors probably experience, where they are shy on the one hand, and then their performance allows them to be extrovert in this fictional setting.

“When I am disappointed, I go into the room, jump into the fire and basically hover over it and say a prayer with the shaman”

And that’s when you let your inhibitions go – like we see in American Ultra. Did you like shooting the action scenes in the movie?

Our characters did a lot of fighting and strenuous physical activity. That’s the greatest way to feel connected to your life in my opinion. I ride my bicycle every day or go running to calm down. Also, in a movie like this, I felt there was nothing better than having something physical to do because it gets you out of your own mind. I can get distracted quite easily.

Perhaps you are doing too much? You have been working a lot recently – filming Batman V Superman is just one example. And you also write books and theatre pieces…

Actors like me often sign onto independent movies that struggle to get financing over the course of the years. So you are signed on to ten movies with the goal of two of them coming to fruition over the course of the next several months. So you feel you are involved with things, even though they are not necessarily in the full throes of production. But I like to do a lot of stuff. I released a book in September and every two years I write and perform in a play. That takes a lot of time.

What do you do when you don’t get the parts that you crave for?

I have a shaman in my house. He constantly rekindles the fire. When I am disappointed, I go into the room, jump into the fire and basically hover over it and say a prayer with the shaman. We kind of exorcise that disappointment. I usually do that once or twice a week.


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