New York News


Jesse Eisenberg's second play debuts in NYC

18 Mar 2013 11:53 AM
Jesse Eisenberg's second play debuts in NYC

Jesse Eisenberg began his career portraying intellectual loners on screen. There was his much-heralded role as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, of course, but also similar roles playing introverts in Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale and Woody Allen's To Rome with Love. Now, though, the 29-year-old actor is setting his sights on writing plays. His first play, Asuncion, debuted in 2011 to strong reviews, and his second play, The Revisionist, just opened at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

Some people might believe that Eisenberg's foray into live theater is the result of his fears of being typecast in films, but Eisenberg, who also stars in the The Revisionist, says that this is not the case. His passion for acting has not waned, he just believes that he also has stories to tell of his own.

After struggling to write romantic comedy scripts for Hollywood, the young actor decided that the intimacy and relatively small stakes of the New York City theater scene were better suited to the type of writing he wanted to do. The new play tells a semi-autobiographical tale of a young American's trip to visit an older cousin in Poland.

"[The Revisionist] is based on my own lack of appreciation of my family in America and [my cousin's] great appreciation for it," he told Playbill. "I realized we were having these thematically interesting exchanges that were unique because of the language and cultural barriers."

Like his idol Woody Allen, Eisenberg aims to transform this personal story into a more universal one. Luckily, he has help. To counterbalance his relatively short acting and writing tenure, Eisenberg has enlisted the help of Broadway stalwart and Hollywood legend Vanessa Redgrave, who plays the older cousin. 

Eisenberg had his sights set on Redgrave from the beginning, but wasn't sure she would sign on to the project. Once she saw the script, though, she was hooked.

"It's just incredible, brilliant," she told New York. "I always look for the play, and the rest follows." 

After a long discussion about the play in London, Redgrave and Eisenberg agreed to collaborate. Although it is similar in structure and tone to his first play, The Revisionist is a further step toward the stories he wants to tell, Eisenberg said. Owners of Manhattan real estate and the millions of culture-hungry tourists who come to the city each year now have a chance to decide for themselves.