Magazine article The New Yorker

Cycling

Magazine article The New Yorker

Cycling

Article excerpt

Who's the biggest nerd in the movies? Jesse Eisenberg, who played the older brother in "The Squid and the Whale" and starred in "Adventureland," might seem like an outside contender, but he has three films opening this month--"Solitary Man" (with Michael Douglas), "Holy Rollers" (about Hasidic ecstasy mules in Brooklyn), and "The Living Wake" (co-written by the comedian Mike O'Connell)--and, this fall, he'll star in "The Social Network," as Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook.

"The Living Wake," a dark, dreamlike comedy, is the most low-budget of the four. Eisenberg plays a factotum for a blowhard, played by O'Connell, and spends most of the film pedalling his co-star around in a bicycle rickshaw, or pedicab. On a recent windy day, Eisenberg showed up in Central Park for a reversal of that role: he was going to be taken on a pedicab ride around midtown. He wore jeans, a red Indiana baseball cap, and a white button-down shirt over a navy T-shirt.

He hailed a pedicab. The driver's name was Oz. "Where are you from?" Oz asked, pulling into the traffic of Columbus Circle.

"I'm from here," Eisenberg said.

"Here?" Oz said.

"Where are you from?" Eisenberg asked.

"I'm from Istanbul." The pedicab lurched and veered across several lanes of traffic. "I'm a teacher," Oz shouted, over the roar of buses. "I teach math--integral calculus. You know integral calculus?"

"No," Eisenberg said. "I'm not good at math." The pedicab continued down Broadway. "I grew up in New Jersey," Eisenberg, who is twenty-six, said. His parents, a sociology professor (father) and a dancer turned part-time birthday-party clown (mother), moved to East Brunswick when he was five. "I went to a lot of Broadway plays as a kid, so I thought I wanted to live around here," he said as the pedicab approached the theatre district. "I thought that's what real actors do. But now I know that no one lives here. It's just offices and theatres." The pedicab cut in front of a car, whose driver proceeded to lean on his horn for three terrifying seconds. Eisenberg ignored it and said, "Can we go down to Forty-fifth Street?" He pointed to the Palace Theatre: "When I was fifteen, we used to sneak in here to see the second act of 'Beauty and the Beast.' They didn't sell the front two rows because you couldn't see over the orchestra. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.