Jesse Eisenberg is ‘like a rock’ for Morgan

From left, Jesse Eisenberg, Isiah Whitlock, Emma Rayne Lyle, Tracy Morgan and Melissa Leo star in “Why Stop Now?” in theaters today.

Ever since 2009’s double features “Zombieland” and “Adventureland” —  and especially 2010’s Facebook creation-myth biopic, “The Social Network” — Jesse Eisenberg has enjoyed the status of leading man. (He was mistaken for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a recent basketball game, that’s how convincing he was in the role.) His quiet, slightly jittery demeanor belies his high standing, however — and while he chats with us about his latest film, he is nothing short of a cross-breed between fast-talking Aaron Sorkin and wise-cracking Woody Allen. He explains what it was like to work with comedian Tracy Morgan on the set of “Why Stop Now?”

So in this film, you’re trying to help your mom score drugs so that she’ll finally be admitted to rehab, which results in your character chasing down her drug dealer, played by Tracy Morgan. We’ve heard he’s crazy. What do you think?

I guess as unique as he is, he’s still someone who is so prolific and does so much — so obviously he’s very aware of what he’s doing. So it may come off as spontaneous and fun and silly or something. He’s one of the great comedians working today, so he’s aware of what’s funny and what he does that’s funny. Nothing’s really accidental. You can’t really sustain accidents for a long time.

He once told a Metro employee that he wanted to put a baby in her.

He came up to me every day behind my head, an inch from my ear and sang that song — well, it’s a song but it’s also made currently famous by the Chevy commercial — [Bob Seger’s] “Like a Rock.” He just sings that in a very loud way beside my head every day at 5 in the morning. But when he’s working, when he’s playing a role and being in the specific circumstance of a movie, he’s able to take whatever it is that makes him do the Chevy commercial and channel it into a character that has another kind of inner experience and I guess that’s what makes him really great.

Why did he sing that to you? Are you his rock?

Oh, I wouldn’t be able to start attributing psychological motives to it. … I think he just gets excited by something and then just kind of does it and does it to its logical endpoint, which for most other people would’ve been earlier but he just gets a kick out of doing it. It’s one of those things that goes through a cycle of not being funny a few times and then, of course, a few times just by virtue of it extending way past its endpoint, it becomes funny again. That’s part of the charm.

Follow movies writer Heidi Patalano on Twitter @HeidiatMetro.


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