This month’s 10th anniversary of “The Social Network” has been accompanied by memorable set stories (click here for David Fincher’s apology over replacing actor Josh Pence with Armie Hammer’s face), several of which can be found in Empire magazine’s behind-the-scenes feature on the beloved Facebook drama. Empire made its decade-old “Social Network” set report available online over the weekend to mark the anniversary and it includes one revealing tidbit where Fincher would get Jessie Eisenberg into the mindset of Zuckerberg by directing Andrew Garfield to hurl insults at the actor.
As Empire observed on set: “[Garfield] leaves to change into his own, casual clothes, before returning to crouch behind the camera as it hovers close to Eisenberg. Just before the camera rolls, he leans toward the ‘Zombieland’ star and hisses, ‘You’re a fucking dick and you betrayed your best fucking friend. Live with that.’ It’s shocking to hear. It certainly helps with the take. And it is evidence both of Garfield’s professional generosity and Fincher’s nous — for the abuse was at the director’s instruction, to help Eisenberg get in the right headspace for the scene.”
Whether it’s forcing his actors to insult each other or having them endure multiple takes of the same scene, Fincher is only trying to get his actors into the proper headspace so they may inhabit their characters on the most human level. As Garfield told Empire at the time of the demanding filmmaker, “He has impeccable taste. And he’ll only use the things that work. He’s brutal — in a very, very positive way.”
“Everybody has been really great. We’ve only had a couple of people who didn’t want to ‘play,'” Fincher said at the time, noting some actors weren’t up to the challenge of nailing multiple takes of Aaron Sorkin’s beefy dialogue. “It’s exhausting, it’s hard, you know? Sorkin-ese is not for the faint of heart, ’cause you have to drill it and drill it and drill it. You don’t frame words — you just deliver the paragraph. It’s an interesting thing to see 20 year-old faces spouting this stuff. But the big trick of it is to make sure it doesn’t end up being somebody aping, you know, [famous 1920s wit] Dorothy Parker.”
Fincher added, “I try to spend as much time shooting as I can. The whole idea about only doing three or four takes… It’s like, ‘No, what about this? What if this happened, or what if they say it that way?’ And, you know, sometimes people are game, sometimes people are like, ‘Shit! I don’t remember my name!'”
“The Social Network” is now streaming on Netflix. Head over to Empire magazine’s website to read its original set report in its entirety online.