Most people associate the name Jesse Eisenberg with films such as The Social Network and Zombieland, and his portrayal of Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. But writing? Well, it seems that alongside scribing and performing in his own plays, Eisenberg is an established, and published, author, penning humor pieces for the likes of McSweeney's and The New Yorker. And now he's celebrating the release of his first book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups.
MStars News recently participated in a roundtable interview with Eisenberg to discuss his writing career and how he handles both the process and the criticism that can often come from working on the page. It all went down before the writer-actor spoke at an event thrown by New Jersey City University and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
On how he overcomes criticism in his writing:
I try to avoid reading anything about myself because I find it never to be helpful. If I read something positive about myself I think it's inaccurate. If I read something negative, I think it's 100% correct, and I feel bad about myself.
It's helpful if I write something and send it to a friend; they can give me good feedback because they can look at it in the context of what I know how to do. But anonymous online reviewers can be quite cruel, sometimes for the sake of the cruelty. I find it hasn't been totally helpful.
On where his love for writing began:
I liked stand-up comedy when I was younger so I used to write jokes. Then I started acting in theater and plays. I've always just written, usually as a way to express myself. If I feel uncomfortable in a situation I can put it in a fiction story and somehow express myself and have a cathartic experience.
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On his writing process for developing humorous story angles:
I try to always write something that's funny, but I kind of feel that being funny is not enough so I try to infuse it with some sort of pathos, or a character, or some type of commentary on a social situation. This way it's not just one thing.
If I think of a situation that is very sad, I'll try and make them as funny as possible to try and offset what can be melodramatic about that. I think by doing that you create something that is not only entertaining but also of its own. I'm able to take things that are sometimes complicated and put them in ways that are fun to read or more palatable.
I find it difficult to write things that are standard. A guy not having a good date, that's really difficult for me to write; my mind stops me from writing it because I've already read things like that. Not that my stuff is the most original stuff but I've never read it so that's why I can do it.
On what advantage fame and success has brought him in getting published:
That's difficult. When I was not getting anything published I would have a much lower bar for myself. I would finish something and immediately send it out. Now that I have established myself as a writer and established myself as a movie actor that people might be interested in, regardless of the quality of my stuff, I have to be a little more careful about what I choose to publish.
Publishers may be more likely to publish my work because I am in movies but I would be doing this anyway, and it would be the same. Maybe it wouldn't be getting the same reach as now? I am very lucky [that way].
Everybody around my life is honest usually to the point of making me feel bad. That's when you know it's right. [laughs]
On choosing writing or acting:
I don't see that big of a difference. I'm doing a Woody Allen movie right now, and he asks his actors to improvise, so I'm forced to write via the perspective of my character. It's a very linked process.
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On his thoughts about actors deviating from scripts, given his love of language:
It depends on the context of the piece. I do plays and in theater you never deviate. I think that comes out of the tradition of playwrights being dead when they're performed.
In movies, because they're being filmed for the first time and often have to account for the kind of celebrity persona of the actor in the movie, they end up having to tailor the part more to the actor. Then the actor has more power than the writer based on the hierarchy of the movie industry. Because of that, you improvise more.
On the freedom of writing:
I think of acting as being a really good drummer; you really can't do it outside of the band. In acting, you can't really act on your own. That's the wonderful thing about writing; you can do it anywhere. It's really wonderful to have access to the arts without requiring any tools.
On speaking at New Jersey City University:
I grew up in New Jersey and my dad taught at NJIT so this seemed like a great place to go. And this organization that's putting on this event seems like a great place for my book. I'm a young person writing about young people so it seemed appropriate I should go to this school, and to be able to reach other universities. Not that my message is the gospel; I just thought they would like my book... and then they can make the decision if it's the gospel. Something tells me they'll decide yes, this is. [laughs]
Purchase Eisenberg's new book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups, over on Amazon. See him in Batman v. Superman on March 25, 2016.© 2019 Mstars News, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.