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Ah, the celebrity interview. Such a tricky beast for so many entertainment journalists.
How do you manage to get an over-tired performer to open up, go off script, and give you an original sound bite when he or she has likely been asked the same questions for hours, sometimes days on end?
Perhaps you try a playful and fun angle, like Univision host Romina Puga did during a recent press junket interview with actor Jesse Eisenberg, star of last weekend’s surprise No. 2 box office finisher “Now You See Me”? Or perhaps you don't, considering how harshly Puga’s tactic was rebuffed.
From what we can tell via the video, which Puga transcribed and wrote a behind-the-scenes blog about on Univsion.com, this interview seems to have gone down during a studio-organized press junket, during which actors often participate in several hours of individual interviews with a variety of journalists, most of them ranging between 3-8 minutes in length.
Now, we’ve seen how an actor can take this potentially monotonous and mind-melting setup and run with it in a funny and viral way, a la Mila Kunis’ now-famous and charming chat with an enthusiastic British journo, but the exchange between Eisenberg and Puga isn’t that. It’s hard to tell whether Eisenberg’s barbs, and there are a few, are meant as playful or if he was really tired, or as unimpressed with Puga’s line of questioning as she was with his responses.
Puga's interview starts off bad and quickly gets worse. At the beginning of the video, Puga refers to Eisenberg’s co-star Morgan Freeman as “Freeman,” which Eisenberg apparently felt was too familiar.
“Freeman? What are you on a baseball team with him?” he asked Puga. She then tries to play it off and moves on to ask Eisenberg to perform one of the card tricks he learned during filming – a move which causes Eisenberg to joke that Puga is “the Carrot Top of interviewers.” Puga again tries to play it off and tells him she might cry about that insult and Eisenberg jokes (we think) that she should wait until after the interview.
“No cry after the interview is over, otherwise I’ll look like I’m responsible for that,” says Eisenberg.
The whole scene is just awkward. As Puga wrote, it did not leave her with a good impression of the actor.
In defense of Eisenberg, Yahoo! Movies participated in one of the press junket days for “Now You See Me” and discovered that the “Social Network” star has a very dry sense of humor. So dry in fact that it could be very easy to misconstrue his dry jokes as mean-spirited or his attitude aloof, as Puga obviously did.
And before people jump to say that his demeanor is similar to some of the characters he's played, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, we asked Eisenberg why he enjoys the “cocky a-hole” roles. Eisenberg told us it offers him a chance to play someone completely different and uninhibited. So take that how you will and let’s hope these two have a reunion interview that runs much more smoothly.
See our much less awkward interview with Jesse Eisenberg for "Now You See Me"...