Zombieland's Jesse Eisenberg: 'I'm So Shocked Every Time I Get Into a Movie'
Zombieland seems quite a departure from the kinds of indie coming-of-age films you've done until now.
It's a bigger movie. It's a character-driven, verbal, funny, specific movie with well-rounded characters. I don't think it necessarily compromises any of those elements that you liked about my previous movies.
So you haven't "gone zombie" on us.
[Laughs] Um, no. It's a really funny movie. There are only four characters in the movie, and each character is not only played by an amazing actor -- there's two Academy Award nominees out of the four of us...not me -- but the characters are funny, well-rounded and interesting people.
How does your character serve the group?
I play Columbus. All our characters are named from the city that we're from, because Woody's character, Tallahassee, decides that if any of us know each other's names, it would be harder for us to kill one another if we've been bitten by a zombie. So to create some emotional distance, we name each other with what city we're from. My character is obsessed with survival. I have a list of 47 rules of how to survive in this post-apocalyptic zombie world -- Zombieland. Woody's character loves the fight, while I run away from the fight. So the two of us team up and kind of influence each other a little bit. I kind of make him a little more cautious and he teaches me to be a little more thrilled with killing zombies.
Did you ever foresee a moment in your career when you'd be shoulder-to-shoulder with Woody Harrelson fighting zombies?
No. I never thought I'd be in a movie to begin with. Every time they cast me -- and I'm not just saying this out of false modesty or humbleness -- like, I'm so shocked every time I get into a movie. And then after the movie is done I think I've totally failed and ruined this interesting movie. The movie comes out and I'm just embarrassed about myself in it.
Can you watch yourself in the films you've done? How do you react to yourself?
I hate watching me. I hate watching me. It just makes me feel awful. I think, I look stupid from that angle. I wish I didn't let them put that shirt on me.