Change of pace for Jesse Eisenberg in '30 Minutes or Less' 

It’s always interesting to see how an actor follows up an Oscar nomination. After his acclaimed portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” Jesse Eisenberg is appearing in the summer popcorn action-comedy “30 Minutes or Less,” opening Friday.

It’s decidedly more lowbrow, but greatly entertaining.

He plays Nick, a pizza delivery guy in Grand Rapids, Mich. A couple of thugs, played by Danny McBride and Nick Swardson, catch him, strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank. He calls on his best friend Chet, played by stand-up comic Aziz Ansari, for help.

Of course, things go terribly awry.

Eisenberg, 27, and Ansari, 28, recently visited San Francisco, stopping by Goat Hill Pizza on Potrero Hill to meet with press and fans over tasty slices.

Eisenberg seems unfazed by his recent brush with Oscar glory. Asked if he ever thought he’d win, he responds, “I never thought be in a movie.”

As for Facebook, he says he follows news, but knows very little about technology or social networking. He even improvised a line in “30 Minutes or Less” about Nick not having a Facebook account, and being “off the grid.”

The “30 Minutes” shoot took place in August, during Ansari’s break from his TV show “Parks and Recreation.” The weather was stifling, and Eisenberg says he was sweating profusely under his strapped-on bomb vest and army jacket.

What’s worse is that, since the story takes place over one day, the actors wore the same clothes for the entire shoot.

“A few weeks ago I saw a guy wearing that shirt that I wear in the movie, and I wanted to hit him in the face,” Ansari jokes.

Working together, the actor and comedian quickly formed a rapport. Ansari says, “What you see onscreen is only a slight variation of our real life.”

Eisenberg says, “Aziz is so funny, I felt like I didn’t have to be as funny. My character is in this incredibly dire situation, so I felt relieved that he was doing it. It made me feel like I could just indulge in the fear that my character has and keep the stakes real.”

During the course of the film, the friends are required to fight with each other. Anzari admits, “We’re both guys that have never been in any real brawls.” Indeed, their fight looks more like struggling and grappling than anything precisely violent.

Eisenberg adds, “It’s choreographed clumsiness.”



30 Minutes or Less

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson

Written by Michael Diliberti, Matthew Sullivan

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Rated R

Running time 1 hour 29 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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