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'Social Network' Secrets from '60 Minutes' and Andrew Garfield

The Social Network

Mark Zuckerberg gave the Oscar-fave movie about him a boost by unveiling Facebook's new facelift to Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes Sunday night (gee, what would the sensational-looking Stahl know about facelifts?). Flashbacks to earlier interviews dramatically showed that Zuckerberg's own face used to look strikingly different -- sweatily, swinishly Nixonish under tech expert Kara Swisher's ruthless interrogation last June (the "sweatapalooza interview"), and like a grumpy troll guarding treasure in his 2008 Stahl interview, when Swisher said he "seems genetically unable to smile." Now he's all smiles, deflecting questions with a quip instead of a sneer. When Stahl cut from him saying "Is that a question?" to Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg saying the same thing in Social Network's court scene, the tones were utterly different. Real Zuckerberg said it teasingly, with an impish grin. Movie Zuckerberg said it like a dagger thrust neatly nicking the victim's aorta.

The old scenes of Zuckerberg are closer to Eisenberg's surly movie character, but lack his rat-a-tat ratiocination and coiled malevolence. The new  Zuckerberg seems remote from the guy in the movie. Maybe he's learned to conceal his bad-guyness, or grown out of it now that he's rich enough to clean up BP's oil spill with a personal check. 60 Minutes makes it clear that the movie role isn't Zuckerberg, it's a genius character created by a genius actor, genius writer and genius director in a moment of inspiration as thrilling as Zuckerberg's original social-network epiphany. 

At Wednesday's Fox Searchlight party atop the Thompson Hotel, Andrew Garfield, who plays the classmate and business partner who sued Zuckerberg for allegedly screwing him out of billions, gave insight into how he achieves the limpid acting style that conveys coltish innocence, hurt and yearning with such visceral impact -- so quietly. I asked how he accomplishes the stylistically distinct but in some ways similar effect in the utterly different context of Never Let Me Go. "I haven't actually seen the movie. I try not to. I don't want to be aware of what I'm doing. As soon as I am, I'm less open," he says. By way of demonstration, Garfield glared at his hand in extreme self-consciousness, making its movement appear wooden. Then he looked away and the hand became spontaneously human again. "My hand is just doing that. I just want to be open fully to the story and what that subjective moment is." So while everybody at Facebook, including Zuckerberg, saw Social Network, along with everyone in America who's serious about movies, including Oscar voters, Garfield presumably has not.

60 Minutes also provided another tiny insight into what works onscreen. The real Winkelvoss Olympic athelete twins who are suing Zuckerberg for allegedly taking their idea and running with it look just as funny on TV as the actors who play them in the film -- like rectangles of muscle with identical rectangle heads. In Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, there are a pair of blonde identical twin pole dancers hired to perform for the jaded movie-star hero at LA's sin-centric Chateau Marmont hotel. In utterly distinct contexts, handsome athletic twins just always seem to make you smile.