It’s fair to say that Jesse Eisenberg’s off-hours persona isn’t too far from the characters he’s known for playing. Intensely thoughtful, articulate and maybe slightly on edge, Eisenberg sits at a banquette in trendy nightclub Avenue, in the middle of the day and seems to raise a question for each one that is posed to him.
This is a trait that he is becoming known for with people he’s worked with in the past. Michael Douglas, his co-star in “Solitary Man,” another film premiering this weekend, noted in a recent interview that Eisenberg is an amazing listener. The ability served him well for his part in “Holy Rollers,”in which he plays a Hasidic Jew turned drug mule and eventually drug dealer.
To prepare for the part, Eisenberg spent months getting to know Hasidim in Brooklyn and upstate New York, particularly with the Chabad community, which is known for reaching out to secular Jews.
“I couldn’t really indulge in the spiritual experience of it because my mind was always one foot outside the door of how can I learn from what they’re teaching me,” he says. “I just don’t want to present it as exploitative because we had really nice times together.”
The role is a bit of a departure from the awkward teen roles he’s known for, but Eisenberg maintains that the character of Sam Gold — whose story is based on a real life event — isn’t so different from the rest.
“This is may be the most uncomfortable character I’ve ever seen. He grew up in one isolated community and moves to the opposite cultural world, a culture of hedonism and drugs and nightclubs and sex,” he says and deadpans: “It’s the same. It looks different because of the clothing but it’s the same.”