Actor & Playwright Jesse Eisenberg on the Thrill of the Stage

My friend Dan once explained to me why he likes Jewish people: “In most families, you sit around the dinner table in silence until you absolutely need something from the other end. That’s when you’re forced to speak. But when I eat dinner with a Jewish family, the tiniest comment sets off an entertaining debate. Someone will say ‘I like this pasta’ and it’s immediately followed by controversy. ‘What, you didn’t like what your mother made last week?’ ”

Dan grew up in polite Alaska but moved to New York to attend acting school, where he experienced for the first time a culture and kind of dialogue that was, for me, the only way of life. In my family, every conversation was a debate complete with philosophical tangents. A discussion about the Yankees would quickly devolve into an argument about salary caps and then into a theoretical consideration of hegemony, and finally, inevitably, a shouting match about Israeli policies in the Middle East.
So for me, acting was a seamless transition from living. I would yell at my real sister at home, travel to the theater, yell at my fake sister on stage, and then head back home to apologize to my real sister. (In our house, every argument had two acts.) For Dan, the theater was a place to experience new thrills–what he would call the “exhilarating little orgasm” you get from acting when it feels, even for a moment, entirely real. Although Dan and I came to the theater from different places, we both felt the same buzz.
This raises the question: What exactly do we like so much about drama? Why do people like Dan and me, who have no real strife–who have the use of all our limbs and are not starving on the street–create fictional situations to make our lives more dramatic? Do some people need drama in their lives like others need extreme sports? Are Dan and I just bungee jumping every night on stage?
It’s possible that Dan and I pursue theater for two, virtually opposite reasons. I might enjoy drama because it resembles the way I view the world–that is, through a heightened state of argument and debate. The eternally nasty George and Martha of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? recall an average Tuesday night for my girlfriend and me. Dan, on the other hand, might enjoy drama because it provides him with a new way to interact with the world. For him, George and Martha are foreign creatures whose psyches are fascinating to explore for a few hours each night.
I always thought it was curious that Dan got such a charge from acting in extremely dramatic situations, when in real life he tries to avoid them at all costs. But I guess, in a way, acting allows Dan to sit at the Jewish table for a few hours. On a good night, he might even be able to pass for one of us. 
Jesse Eisenberg’s play, Asuncion, is playing at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater until December 18. 

The Book of Mormon’s Josh Gad Finds Beauty In the Times Square Wasteland

Josh Gad isn’t your typical Broadway star, but The Book of Mormon isn’t your typical Broadway show. The 30-year-old actor is currently one of two leads in the twisted, irreverent, and highly entertaining musical from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The script has enough four-letter words, dirty jokes, and blasphemy to make even the most progressive stalwart in the blue-haired matinee crowd squirm. But Gad feels at home on stage. His credits include a turn in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a comedic role on the short-lived Fox sitcom Back to You, and a stint as a correspondent on The Daily Show. "I went to college for straight acting—they wouldn’t let me into musical theater because I was such a horrible dancer," he says."But I love musicals. They’re the most entertaining form of theater."

After four years with the Book of Mormon team, Gad has yet to complete his mission."I’ve been involved since the first readings," he says. "It’s been the length of a college career." After 10 performances a week for the last seven months, he’s eager to get back to L.A. for a little R&R with his wife and nine-month-old daughter. Until then, though, he’s enjoying his second home in New York, particularly the Theater District just off Times Square, where he spends most of his time.
224 West 49th Street, 212-247-1000
Serafina is somewhat of an extensionof the Eugene O’Neill Theatre—Icall it my after-hours dressing room. It’s a wonderful place to unwind. It has an amazing selection of food, for appetites big or small, and the staff is so unbelievably accommodating. A lot of people go there after the show, which gives me the opportunity to speak to them. They usually tell me how much they enjoyed it, but sometimes they let me know my performance didn’t live up to their expectations.
1540 Broadway, 212-626-2910
My wife and I bring our daughter here. It’s a child’s fantasy. We sometimes take her to the Toys-R-Us down the street and ride the Ferris wheel, but it’s so crazy in there. This place is a little calmer, although it still sounds like there are explosions going off all the time.
josh gad 4
356 West 44th Street, 212-445-0131
I go here on Sundays to watch sports. I’m from Hollywood, Florida, so I follow my home-state teams—the Dolphins, Marlins, Heat. I’m a beer drinker, too, but lately I’ve been laying off that stuff because of the show.
josh gad 5
691 Eighth Avenue, 646-435-0135
I love Shake Shack. I love the fresh ingredients. I usually get the ’Shroom Burger with fried portobello mushrooms and cheese. I can’t compare it to In-N-Out Burger—that’s unfair. In-N-Out is precious to me. It’s like comparing children. But I will say Shake Shack makes the best burger I’ve had on the East Coast.
josh gad 6
234 West 42nd Street
When you have a kid, movies suddenly become rare events in your life, but I try to go as often as I can. The last movie I saw was Midnight in Paris. It blew my mind. It’s so good to see Woody Allen return to form—there was just something magical about that movie. It made me an avid reader of writers like Hemingway and Faulkner. I love the summer tent poles, especially this year. I loved Captain America, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and, of course, Harry Potter. I had a good time at the movies this summer.
Photos by Jesse Dittmar

Fashion Gallery: A Wild Ride on the Vegas Strip

They always say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. We’re here to change all that. 

Photography by Jack Chuck. Styling by Brett Bailey. Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management. Makeup by Deanna Hagan. Production Assistant: Jessica Olivieri. Photo Assistants: Matthew Sprout and John Buenaventura. Stylist Assistant: Todd Pearce. Camaro by Chevrolet. Location Las Vegas.

‘The Big Bang Theory’ Star Kunal Nayyar Reveals 7 Things He Hates About Dramas

1. I hate watching hospital dramas because they make me feel like I’m going to die of some rare disease. What’s that weird tingling under my foot? It’s probably chronic gout.

2. I hate that every dramatic scene in movies happens in slow motion. Just get to the fucking point already.
3. Why does dramatic music always involve violins? Find a violin player and make them play music while you eat breakfast. You’ll mist up just reading the Corn Flakes box.
4. I hate how when anything dramatic happens, the media scares the living shit out of people. They recently shut down a big freeway in Los Angeles for a weekend. The week leading up to it was the scariest week of my life. The media called it “carmageddon.” No one left the house for fear of traffic, chaos, and riots. By the time the weekend rolled around, everyone was so scared to go out that the streets were empty, so I got in my car and drove around naked.
5. I hate when actors fake cry in movies. Sorry to say, but yes, it happens. No one I know can really cry every single time, on every single take. Actually, Kate Winslet probably could. I love her, and I want her to love me back.
6. I hate when people say, “Stop being so dramatic.”
7. Talking about all the things I hate about drama has made me sad. I’m just going to rent Sophie’s Choice and cry myself to sleep. Thanks, BlackBook.
Photo by Richard Knapp.

‘The Artist’ Star Jean Dujardin Has Hollywood Talking Without Uttering a Word

When Jean Dujardin was awarded the top acting prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his cocksure performance in The Artist, the 39-year-old Frenchman wasn’t quite sure how to react. “I didn’t want to go up on stage, it was intimidating,” says the square-jawed alpha male. “In the end, it was not a big deal. The room carried me. I saw Jude Law smiling, he looked happy! De Niro, too!”

That Dujardin now finds himself in such rarefied company is no mystery. He is France’s highest-paid male actor, after all. What’s surprising is the vehicle that launched him there. The Artist is a silent, black-and-white love letter to 1920s Hollywood. To be sure, it’s a risky old-fashioned cocktail—no dialogue and no color in the post-Avatar era?—but it’s also one of the most creative, joyous films of the year. Dujardin plays George Valentin, a silent film star in the mold of Douglas Fairbanks, whose pre-talkie stardom withers away with the arrival of sound. In a cruel twist of fate, his would-be lover, Peppy Miller (played by the intoxicating Bérénice Bejo, who happens to be the director’s wife), becomes the toast of the town.
Dujardin’s virtuoso performance relies heavily on exaggerated physicality and facial gymnastics—a flick of a cigarette, a timely lift of the eyebrow—techniques no doubt honed in his years of comedy work, including roles in two highly successful spy-film spoofs (think The Bourne Trilogy meets The Naked Gun). “He’s a real classical actor,” says fellow Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius, who directed Dujardin in all three films. “One movie I made with him was set in the ’50s, the other in the ’60s. In the first one, he looked like a young Sean Connery, in the second, Ben Gazzara. He’s very flexible.”
With the Weinstein brothers hell-bent on hyping The Artist all the way to Oscar glory, Dujardin has a shot at the same crossover success that France’s Marion Cotillard enjoyed after she earned a golden statuette for her performance in La Vie En Rose. But does the veteran actor—who lives happily in Paris with his wife, actor Alexandra Lamy —crave that level of stateside acclaim? “I have to go for a good reason, not only to be involved in an American movie,” he says of Studio  City. “But first I have to learn to speak English.”

These Are the iPhone Apps You Should Download this Month

Fargo Soundboard [Free]
When the Coen brothers made Fargo, their big-time paean to small-town crime, they did not anticipate the film would rack up two Oscars.that, they thought, was rarer than a snowball in hell. Little did they know that 15 years later some crazy computer jockey would honor their classic with a compendium of memorable soundbites. All the .Minnesota nice. colloquialisms are here to remind you that .You betcha!. was a catchphrase long before that dame from Wasilla claimed it as her own.

Despite the misleading name, this app does not chronicle the many Manolos of one Carrie Bradshaw. What it does is generate a personalized fashion show inspired by the best street style in Paris and New York (sorry, Milan). Download looks from the models, editors, and buyers who swarm Fashion Week and set them slideshow-style to your favorite Ting Tings track. The result is far more lively than your average style blog.
One day, you.ll be able to sit your grandchildren down and say, .I was there.. They.ll say, .For what, Grand-Mé?. That.s whenyou’ll take the heart-shaped locket from around your neck, open it, and reveal the faded image of Edward Cullen.s porcelain visage. Yes, you old were once a Twihard. And because been so devoted to the lusty vampire saga, you.ll definitely want this official Twilight movies app to get up-to-the-minute news about this month.s The Twilight Saga.Breaking Dawn, Part 1. (Also to post threats to Kristen Stewart on the public message board.) Now can we please stop talking to the future you?
It.s confusing.
This portable portal into the past lets you snap a photo of your local cityscape and find out what was there before all those Wal-Marts. Pivot with the compass to find nearby windows onto history, then examine the historic photographs uploaded by your neighbors. A transition fade effect lets you superimpose the vintage view onto the contemporary, observing what has changed for better or worse. At the very least you’ll travel back in time to last year, when augmented reality was
all the rage.
iSpoof Walken [$0.99]
Before Fatboy Slim and Spike Jonze teamed up to convert Christopher Walken into a cult-y kook, he was still kinda just didn.t know it. Now that the secret.s out, some savvy app developers have taken advantage of Walken.s peculiar brand of weirdness to create this ode to the arch duke of halting speech. Each item in the interactive .personal study. has a story behind it. With one touch of a finger, you can call upon the Walken avatar to predict the future, bro down on his favorite sports, sing, and even swear at you. Think of him as the crazy uncle you never knew you wanted.
The A.V. Club is about as serious as the Onion gets. In the special entertainment section, the paper’s legendary satirists let their pop culture nerd-flags fly. Now this dedicated film app lets you power-gorge on all the movie news, interviews, features, and reviews you can cram into your cranium. When finished absorbing the Onion.s unique take on the film festival circuit, turn to special features like the New Cult Canon and Scenic Routes.
Among the many fine attributes of alcohol.including its ability to render dinner with your parents a tolerable the fact that it lends itself to experimentation. With Pocket Cocktails, you can finally unlock the Secrets of the Spirits. The exhaustive recipe Rolodex includes exotic drinks with names like the Presbyterian and the Missouri Mule. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions, then compare your work to the high-quality images. And to think all this time,
you thought a vodka tonic was as good as it gets.

Droid Rage: The Best Android Apps to Download this Month

EpicMix [Free]
It’s mighty hard to become a real king of the mountain without a social media app to sing your praises. So you can understand our relief when we discovered this modern marvel from the folks at Vail Resorts. Yes, it supplies you with maps, weather updates, road conditions, even live webcam shots from all five of Vail’s resorts, but the big plus is that it lets you locate your pals on the slopes and show them just how many vertical feet you’ve shredded. Better yet, check in at the top of the hill and earn badges as you descend. Second place is first loser.

Stardunk [Free]
How do you top a hyperaddictive multiplayer online basketball game? You create a hyper-addictive multiplayer online basketball game beyond the Earth-bound reach of LeBron James, of course. Like Space Jam without the cartoon bunny, Stardunk trades the hard court for zero gravity. The concept is simple: Shoot the ball into the basket before time runs out. Thanks to the crisp, intergalactic graphics and international leaderboard (4 million downloads and counting), this just became the surest way to kill an hour or three.
Retro Camera [Free]
Nothing screams now like a smartphone picture funneled through a vintage filter. With the latest entry in the virtual photography arsenal, you can choose from five different "cameras" the pinhole among them.and doctor your pics using film scratch, sepia tones, black and white processing, and other retro techniques. Just imagine how much cooler your best friend.s baby shower will look set in the 1940s.
Intrepid internet explorers are no doubt familiar with the craggly visage and insidious smile of the teary-eyed Forever Alone face. A product of the Rage comic meme launched on the notorious message board 4chan, it spread far and wide in 2010. With this new widget, the Forever Alone face will make itself at home on your phone’s dashboard, smiling brightly whenever you get a text. And while you’re waiting for said text? Well, the little guy will be more than happy to remind you that it’s Friday night and you’re at home watching Franklin & Bash in your underpants.
Goodfellas Pro [Free]
To all those bull-headed gavones who insist The Godfather is the greatest of all mob movies, we offer this mobile soundboard with 36 quotes from Martin Scorsese’s genre classic Goodfellas. Remember Joe Pesci’s timeless "How am I funny?" monologue? Of course you do. The film, based on the real-life story of mobster-turned-FBI informant Henry Hill, is famous for its firecracker dialogue. So go ahead. Push a button—say, "Bang this broad" or "Fuck him in the ear"—and wait for the line to come back to you in that distinct wiseguy cadence. It’s like having Pesci in your pocket.
Post Secret$1.99
It’s been almost a decade since the PostSecret community established itself as the preeminent place to display those skeletons dragged out from your closet. Now Android has wisely welcomed the irreverent, sometimes shocking website onto its platform, giving blabbermouths 140 characters in which to share their hush-hush revelations. Pair them with a photo and—voilà!—you’ve got yourself a nifty postcard from the land of oversharing. What a load off your chest. To encourage even more scaring er, sharing, feel free to “heart” the ones you like best.

Documentarian Gary Hustwit Takes on City Design in ‘Urbanized’

“If something doesn’t exist, it just makes me want it more,” says 46-year-old self-taught filmmaker Gary Hustwit. The former music promoter (SST Records) turned book publisher (Incommunicado Press) turned DVD label co-founder (Plexifilm) began producing and releasing music documentaries, like the Wilco hit I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, after finding himself unimpressed with the quality of indie cinema.

In 2007, the California native jumped into the director’s chair and focused his lens on one of his biggest passions: design. He released the critically acclaimed graphic design film Helvetica that year, followed by the industrial design doc Objectified in 2009. Now he’s bringing the trilogy to a close with Urbanized, which premiered to rave reviews in September. By examining specific projects and interviewing prominent architects, developers, and city officials from Santiago to Copenhagen, Hustwit sets out to explain how urban design affects daily life. “Simple things like how you get to work or where your house is and your daily routine are totally dictated by how your city is laid out,” he says. When asked to name his favorite metropolitan area, Hustwit responds as if confronted with an impossible choice, “That’s like asking me what my favorite font is. I don’t have one.”

Sarah Silverman Picks Thirteen Songs that Will Tear Your Heart Out

In 2009, foul-mouthed comedian Sarah Silverman and goofy late-night send-up Jimmy Kimmel publicly ended their six-year relationship. Before they split, the two seemed inseparable. They were the First Couple of Comedy, famous for their rolicking game of viral video one-upmanship, which involved singing about fucking Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, respectively. They appeared in Esquire together. Silverman was a frequent fixture on Kimmel’s couch. They even reunited or a short spell. So to see two people who seemed so right for each other fail to work things out was, in a word, heartbreaking.

“I love me some heartbreak,” admits 40-year old Silverman from her home in Los Angeles. But don’t pity the best-selling author of The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. These days, she’s in such high demand that a committed relationship might have to wait.
In addtion to developing a sitcom for NBC, she stars in this fall’s Take This Waltz, a tender romance directed by Sarah Polley. Silverman plays a recovering alcoholic who witnesses the cracks in the marriage of her brother (Seth Rogen) and his straying wife (Michelle Williams). In real life, Silverman avoids alcohol, relying instead on long walks through New York, “especially late at night when the streets are emptier.” That, and songs about pain. Here, we asked her to tap into that special, one-of-a-kind agony that comes from an aching heart, and choose 13 songs that might help one get through it.
Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” I believe this song is about heroin addiction. But to me, it’s about how pain means feeling something, and is therefore better than feeling nothing at all. I guess it’s why cutters cut and why some people pick fights in bars. It’s proof you exist.
She and Him’s “Sentimental Heart” This is a great breakup song by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. It’s the perfect soundtrack to heartbreak, and it came out at just the right time to lull me into a downward spiral. O-o-old habits die hard when you got / when you got a sentimental heart.
Rilo Kiley’s “Does He Love You?”
This was the first song I heard by Rilo Kiley and it reminded me of Janis Ian in how seriously it takes itself—in a great way. I love that it’s very melancholy, but in the end comes to fruition with a furious crescendo.
The Killers “All These Things That I’ve Done”
I love this song for many reasons, mostly because it’s anthemic. I also very much enjoy songs that have different parts—“A Day in the Life,” “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” “Layla.” Seeing the Killers live just enhanced that love. Brandon Flowers is so charismatic, you can’t take your eyes off him.
Janis Ian’s “In The Winter”
This is the most dramatic song there is. It’s about a woman who’s deeply alone and desperately in love with a taken man who doesn’t love her back. You have a    lovely home / just like a picture / No, I live alone / I found it easier / you must remember how I never liked / the
party life / up all night / lovely wife / you have a lovely wife.
Conor Oberst’s “Cape Canaveral”
This song was playing on the radio at a crucial time for me. The lyrics, for whatever reason, gave me the strength to change something that was wrong in my life. Victory’s sweet/even deep in the cheap seats. It brought me back to what’s important at a time when I was compromising all that because of all sorts of fears.
Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen”
Again with the Janis Ian. This whole album is heartbreaking. She wrote it when she was 17 and every song is super sad and super perfect. As you might imagine, it’s about being 17 and having no friends and no one to love and feeling awkward and alone. The first time I did stand up on Letterman (they let you pick the music you come out to), I had them play me in with “At Seventeen.” Which is not a comic’s usual choice for getting the audience pumped.
Patty Griffin’s “Long Ride Home”
This is one of my all-time favorites. It is heartbreaking. It’s about a woman who just buried her husband of many years and is now riding home in the limo from the funeral, heading towards her new life alone and reflecting on everything she did and didn’t say.
Mary Gauthier’s “I Drink”
This woman is amazing. She cuts to the core with simple words, simple storytelling, and she transcends so much pain—it’s awesome. Fish swim/Birds fly/ Daddies yell/Mamas cry/old men sit and think/I drink.
Jenny Lewis’ “Born Secular”
Jenny Lewis is the lead singer of the amazing Rilo Kiley, and she’s done some solo albums that are equally brilliant. This is a song about disillusionment and the absence of God (from what I can tell). There are not a lot of lyrics, but when the words run out the music continues for a long time, with the drums building and building in the coolest way.
Akron/Family’s “Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead”
This song was on the World’s Greatest Dad soundtrack and it touched me so deeply when I heard it. Lyrics like Don’t be afraid/It’s only love repeated over and over with additions and slight changes in the arrangements—it’s the kind of stuff you need to have pounded into your head.
Fiona Apple’s “Love Ridden”
I think this song is about a woman who has given up on a man she loves but knows isn’t right for her—maybe? Anyway, it’s beautiful and sad.
Adele’s “Someone Like You”
From the stark piano to the resignation in her voice—oh, this song. It makes you happy to be sad and alone.