Jesse Eisenberg reteams with 'Zombieland' director Ruben Fleischer in this weekend's new bank-heist action-comedy, '30 Minutes or Less.' It's been an interesting couple of years for Eisenberg, who has scaled new heights of critical and popular acclaim thanks to an Oscar-nominated performance as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2010's 'The Social Network.' Still only 27, Eisenberg has been acting on film since 2001, and we all know that every actor, like every multi-billion-dollar Internet company, has a back story. Let's take a look at five performances -- including one that shows off Eisenberg's quite unexpected wrestling moves -- that reveal the origins of one Jesse Adam Eisenberg.
'Get Real' (1999)
Eisenberg played the lead role of Kenny Green in this short-lived Fox television show about a San Francisco family. Also a member of the Green clan: Anne Hathaway. Clips from 'Get Real' are extremely difficult to come by, which would lead one to believe that Eisenberg and Hathaway's lawyers have beat every single one of them into Internet submission. Thankfully for us, Southeast Asia exists.
Lightning: Fire From the Sky (2001)
Eisenberg teamed up with the man who played Bo Duke in this television movie about lightning in Missouri. This movie looks silly, but Eisenberg's frantic, "History is about to repeat itself and if somebody doesn't do something quick, a lot of people are going to be killed!" actually makes me want to find shelter from our impending doom – or, at least Missouri's impending doom.
Roger Dodger (2002)
Jesse Eisenberg plays a 16-year-old virgin who asks his uncle for help in rectifying that situation ... and that's pretty much the entire plot of the film. A critical success, this film gave Eisenberg his first taste of the Hollywood awards grind. I spoke to Eisenberg in December about this very topic: "The first movie I was in was called Roger Dodger. And the main actor in that [Campbell Scott], he won this award, the National Board of Review award ... When he won that award, I remember that day where I was because I had never heard of that award nor did I pay attention to any awards ... And I was immediately kind of turned off to the seemingly, very kind of complicated, process."
'The Village' (2004)
Jesse Eisenberg's acting credit in M. Night Shyamalan's 2004 stinker (not to be confused with his 2002, 2006, 2008, or 2010 stinkers) is one of the great "Wait, really?" casting footnotes. Not many people remember that Eisenberg was in this film, and, perhaps, as members of a peaceful and loving society, we should keep it that way. (At least it wasn't the one with the trees.)
Eisenberg at his creepiest – well, kind of. Perhaps it's the hair? In Wes Craven's 'Cursed,' Eisenberg plays a character who is infected by a werewolf. After ... you know what? It doesn't really matter. Suffice it to say, Eisenberg soon develops superhuman strength because of his misfortune – superhuman strength that he displays on the high school wrestling mat, naturally. (After watching this scene, I just wanted to personally thank Noah Baumbach for rescuing Eisenberg and putting him in 'The Squid and the Whale.')
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