“The Social Network” screenwriter Sorkin and actors discuss film

Sept. 21, 2010, 3:04 a.m.

Promoters for “The Social Network” are hammering home Facebook’s college connection, bringing the film back to campuses that provided the inspiration and the first users for the social networking site. The film was screened at Aquarius Theater in Palo Alto for a packed crowd of Stanford students on Sunday night, followed by a question-and-answer session Monday with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and actors Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer in Roble Theater.

“The Social Network” tells the story of how Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), now the youngest billionaire in the world, and his business partner, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), created the world’s most popular social networking website. Directed by “Fight Club” auteur David Fincher, “Network” connected with the enthusiastic audience, garnering laughs with its surprisingly frequent dark comedy and extremely loud whooping whenever the film referenced Stanford — either through the characters or with details like Zuckerberg’s Coupa Cafe cup in the deposition room. The movie isn’t afraid to delve into the more unsavory bits of Facebook’s origins, which include sex, drugs and alcohol: the Stanford University logo’s first appearance is on the backside of a half-naked coed’s underpants.

"The Social Network" screenwriter Sorkin and actors discuss film
Actors and screenwriter from "The Social Network" hold a Q&A session in Roble Theater Monday morning. There, Eisenberg (left), Garfield (second from left), Hammer (center), moderator Tobin (second from right), and Sorkin (right), discussed the challenges of creating a biopic without the subject's involvement. (MICHAEL LIU/The Stanford Daily)

“I thought it was pretty interesting,” said Carl Kelm ’09. “I think the way they framed it was unique but also it added to the storytelling . . . we kind of know the story so it’s more about the relationships Mark Zuckerberg forms and, in some cases, destroys.”

“I thought it was pretty cool,” said Omar Diab ’14. “I don’t know how much of a d-bag Zuckerberg is but I though was pretty harsh.”

The three stars and Sorkin took part in the question-and-answer session Monday morning in front of a full Roble Theater audience, where Eisenberg channeled his character in Zuckerberg’s trademark hoodie. Film and media studies lecturer Adam Tobin moderated the event, beginning with a thank-you to the cast for making Stanford look good with the film’s “unbelievably sexy Stanford party.”

Actors discussed the film’s unique position of portraying real people in recent history but creating the film without the involvement of Facebook’s creators.

“I’ve played real people before but they’ve always been involved with a movie,” said Eisenberg on portraying Zuckerberg. “In this case, we were discouraged from doing impressions of our characters so there was no need to find and mimic Mark Zuckerberg . . . Aaron’s script invented this character. It didn’t require much else.”

“I just wonder how they’ll feel about it, if they’ll watch it,” said Garfield. “I hope he [Saverin] thinks I’m ok or whatever.”

They also discussed working with Justin Timberlake, who plays Napster entrepreneur Sean Parker in the movie, mentioning going to the MTV Video Music Awards with him in particular.

“It’s like going to Disneyland with Mickey,” quipped Eisenberg.

Sorkin, who arrived late, addressed accusations of sacrificing truth for Hollywood glamour. He confessed that he was drawn to the tale because of its Shakespearean themes of friends, enemies and power.

“We were pretty serious about accuracy,” Sorkin said, explaining that they even researched the kind of beer Zuckerberg was drinking when he made Facemash.

“Nothing was invented for sensationalizing, for the sake of making it sexy, for the sake of advancing a personal agenda,” he said. “If you saw it in the movie, it’s because someone very credible or more than one someone said it was credible.”

Sorkin also claimed he doesn’t understand why people complain that his screenplay portrays Zuckerberg as sex-crazed.

“I don’t know what they’re referring to,” he said.  “There is less sex in this movie than the first two minutes of ‘Gossip Girl.’”

However, he does have some compassion for the Facebook founder. “I don’t think any of us would want the things we did when we were 19 years old made into a movie,” he said.

In an earlier version of the story, The Daily reported that the film’s review will run in this Friday’s intermission. In fact, it will run next Friday, October 1.

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