Jesse Eisenberg Talks “Friend-Ing” Mark Zuckerberg

Jesse Eisenberg confesses he was nervous to real-world “Friend” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – and he’s glad “Saturday Night Live” made the experience even more unusual.

“I was nervous to meet him,” admitted the Oscar-nominated  actor, who played Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” while attending the Academy Award nominees luncheon on Monday. “I spent a year-and-a-half thinking about him, and I was watching him every day and listening to him on my iPod on my way to work, taking fencing lessons because he fenced in high school…”

“I built up this great anticipation of how it would be like to meet him,” added Eisenberg. “We met under circumstances which were a lot more anxiety producing: on live television together, so I think in a strange way it was probably best to meet under even more strange circumstances.”

The actor said he thinks that regardless of concerns Zuckerberg and his multibillion-dollar venture may have had about “The Social Network” depicting the company’s behind-the-scenes dramas, in the end Facebook has benefitted.

“I’m sure the company was a little bit nervous about the movie, and I think it has ultimately been good for them,” said Eisenberg. “In countries where Facebook is second to the local networking site, our movie has actually boosted Facebook’s popularity in that country. In some ways it has been a really positive thing for them, and the fact that Mark has been so gracious about something that I imagine is uncomfortable is wonderful. The fact that he agreed to do ‘Saturday Night Live,’ to do something so silly and be willing to make fun of himself, is so sweet and generous. It’s the best possible way to handle something that could otherwise be very uncomfortable.”

Despite being thrilled about his Oscar nomination, Eisenberg said he’s feeling a little uncomfortable himself while making the awards circuit rounds. “I feel like when I was 13 and I had to go to bar mitzvahs every weekend – you have to put on a suit every weekend to go meet with a bunch of Jews,” he joked, noting the pressures of rubbing elbows with some of his more venerated fellow nominees.

“I have this general sense of feeling like I don’t belong, even though I’ve talked to some other people that very much belong and they have the same feeling,” he said. “I think it’s a room full of insecure actors, which is ultimately very comforting.”

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