The Social Network's Michael De Luca: 'We've Kind of Thought of Ourselves as an Underdog from the Beginning'
With eight nominations, perhaps The Social Network isn't the slam dunk runaway Best Picture favorite everyone thought it was, but that doesn't mean producer Michael De Luca (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) is disappointed with what transpired this morning. In fact, trailing The King's Speech and True Grit in total noms just plays into Team Social Network's wheelhouse.
Michael was kind enough to ring up Movieline HQ moments ago to discuss what being a first-time Oscar nominee means, how the depth of The Social Network cast might have hurt their Oscar chances, and just why he doesn't want to speculate to Oscar night.
How does it feel to be an official Oscar nominee this morning?
It feels surreal to me. If you're a movie fan, you dream about it as a kid -- if you're going to get into the business -- and it's literally a dream come true for me. It's great to get the recognition for all of us who worked on the movie, every single one who had a hand in bringing the movie to life. It's very, very gratifying. We're all so grateful to the Academy.
What happened when you got "the call"? Did you go crazy?
You know what, dude? I didn't even wait for the call. I set my alarm on my iPhone to wake me up at 5:15. I got up and watched them -- it was the first time in my producing career I ever had a movie in contention -- so I just made sure I was awake. Watching them live, it was a real blast.
Obviously, The Social Network has been one of the most talked about Oscar contenders since it was released. When you finally saw the nomination, was it anti-climatic at all?
From the beginning of this, we never counted any chickens before they hatched. To be able to make a movie about our time, and something that holds a mirror up to what we are right now -- and to answer the questions like, "How can they make a movie about this? Is it going to be about Facebook? What's it about?" We've kind of thought of ourselves as an underdog from the beginning because of the challenges. And then, of course, we read Aaron Sorkin's screenplay and thought it was brilliant; and we saw the movie and thought it was brilliant. But, for a while, it was like we had the best kept secret because there was a little skepticism in the world because of the subject matter. But having the movie get out there and the reception it got -- and having people react to the movie the way we ourselves did, and the way we hoped people would -- that's been a joy in the process.
It does feel like you couldn't have had two better people bring this story to the screen than Sorkin and David Fincher.
There are dream teams and then, like, beyond your wildest dream teams. That's what I think David and Aaron were. You combine them with this ensemble -- Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara, Armie Hammer -- it just could not have come together better.
You mention that great ensemble. Do you think that ultimately hurt your film in the Best Supporting Actor category, where Andrew, Justin and Armie all seemed like worthy nominees?
I think sometimes with really strong ensembles, it's hard to single out an individual. Jesse -- who, I think, gives a generational defining performance -- is just an easier call. The supporting players -- in the history of the film business -- the supporting actors sometimes go unsung. I think you may be right: In an ensemble situation, when the work is seamless, in a way, it's sort of harder to pick out an individual.
Care to make any predictions for how The Social Network will do come Oscar night?
I can't make any predictions. It is a tough year; the movies are really good. Every one of those films is, I think, incredible, in their own right. We're just a very different story than the other films -- as they are different from each other. I'm trying to extract every moment of joy from the process that I possibly can -- not trying to think about the future too much.