The dorms in the film aren't real?
No, the dorms are incredible. The production designer, the guy who builds the all the sets and designs anything behind the actors – that's what the production is responsible for – created the most incredible sets. David Fincher, who directed the movie, is very meticulous, so he wanted a shot where my character is running up the stairs at Harvard. In order to create that – he didn't want to cut, he didn't want to edit, so we couldn't shoot the stairs somewhere and the upstairs somewhere else because he wanted it to be a continuous shot. So what that means is that in Los Angeles, they built an entirely raised set of dorms. We were wondering why the dorms are all raised – third-story, but with nothing below them. These are the efforts that went into this production. It looks like the most basic college dorm shot, but what it took to create that was so difficult. We shot, also, a little bit at Johns Hopkins University to stand in for some Harvard shots. And then, of course, there are some what they call hero shots of Harvard, where they really feature the campus.
David Fincher compared his Mark Zuckerberg to Travis Bickle or Rupert Pupkin. Where did your anger come from?
A few things. The primary source was Aaron Sorkin's characterization of Mark, which was really fascinating. He's both enigmatic as well as, I hope by the end of the movie, totally understandable. He's kind of lonely, and has an inability to connect in a comfortable way. That was kind of the main source of inspiration – although you can't really call it inspiration because it was a very explicit blueprint of what I was supposed to do.
The secondary source, I would say, was every interview, every video clip, every picture I could find of Mark Zuckerberg. His interviews transferred to mp3s so I could have them on my iPod and listen to them while we were shooting, kind of get the spirit of his character. I was able to obtain his college application to Harvard and read that he was a fencer, so I took fencing lessons. That was the secondary source of inspiration, or of preparation, was everything that had to do with the real person.
In terms of other characters in movies – I played a character that I think was not dissimilar, and I really loved playing that character, and that was in a movie that came out 5 years ago, and that was a movie called The Squid and the Whale. That was playing the director [Noah Baumbach] at 17. He also is dealing with tons of anger, but that comes out of his parents' divorce. I also thought a lot about that character because it was a movie that was already made, so all of the feelings that I had about the character were synthesized and I think it became an easily accessible thing with which to emotionally relate.
That makes sense. Both of those characters are mad at the patriarchy.
That's a perfect observation. In the case of that movie, he feels his parents he feels have done him wrong. In this case, Mark feels excluded by the old guard at Harvard and traditional social interactions. And in Mark's case, he creates an environment where he feels more comfortable interacting, which is online. Although how helpful that is to – how much that actually solves his problems is up for debate.