Watching an interview gone south is like witnessing the funniest car wreck ever unfold. It’s cringe-inducing, but you just can’t look away. Now, when you’re actually in that interview situation, for the most part, it’s not very funny. The best way to get past a rough experience is to laugh it off or remember that one interview gone south, especially if you do a lot of them, is bound to happen. Not every interviewee you come across you’re going to gel with and, in other cases, they’ll express zero interest in speaking with you and are only there because they have to be.
Some talent see their time as precious, and if an interviewer isn’t respecting that with a poor attitude or a bizarre line of questioning, sometimes they’ll let the interviewer see their frustration in grouchy or comedic ways. The latter was the case for a recent Jesse Eisenberg interview, where his non-Now You See Me jokes didn’t quite land with the interviewer. Since the video has made waves, Eisenberg has taken some flack for his demeanor.
Before going any further, take a look for yourself and tell me if you think Eisenberg was acting out of line:
The sad part about is the interview is how quick-to-judge some people have been towards Eisenberg. Even the Yahoo! Movies headline read: “Is He Mean or Just Awkward?” Well, you can’t answer that question based on a quick junket interview. Someone could be having a rough day, feel uneasy around a certain type of person, etc. Judging someone’s personality based on a few minutes with them isn’t exactly fair. It’s okay to say a subject was “difficult,” “unprofessional,” or, to put it bluntly, “acted like a total prick,” but to outright call them a “prick” isn’t right. As someone who has been hung up on twice during interviews, I know I’ve wanted to throw some tongue-in-cheek insults around, but it’s not my place to do so.
This is where “Say My Name with Romina” host Romina Puga makes a major mistake, beginning her blog post about the interview with Eisenberg saying, “Jesse Eisenberg isn’t very nice.” She left the interview “humiliated” by Eisenberg, but, based on the footage, “humiliated” feels hyperbolic. Anyone who says his jokes are mean-spirited are probably referring to the truth in his wisecracks, that she shouldn’t call a 76-year-old man she doesn’t formally know by his last name or how she’s the “The Carrot Top of interviewers.”
Plus, how does referring to her as “Carrot Top” even compare to Puga telling Eisenberg he has “fat thumbs,” not fully participating in the magic trick she asked him to do on camera, and telling him he’s a “jerk”? That “fat thumbs” bit would fly if it was at all funny, but what’s funny about fat thumbs? Eisenberg was a good sport saying Romina’s name and doing that card trick; he just couldn’t help but to make a few jokes about the whole ordeal. If Romina Puga can make her jokes about his thumbs and responses, why can’t Eisenberg?
As Eisenberg points out, she is on his time. Eisenberg’s also on Puga’s time, but she’s using her’s the same way most of the other TV junket interviewers are: asking about magic tricks and how amazing it is to work with “Freeman.” Those aren’t terrible questions when you consider the interview is meant for a broad audience, but Puga doesn’t even appear interested in her own questions.
Plenty goes wrong in the interview, but, despite some claims, Jesse Eisenberg is not at fault. He was attempting to make a mundane situation fun. It just wasn’t fun in the way Romina Puga was hoping for.