“In terms of preparation, I studied mime for nine months… and really enjoyed and indulged in immersing myself in that world.” – Jesse Eisenberg on Playing Marcel Marceau
Academy Award-nominee Jesse Eisenberg is likely best known for playing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the The Social Network, and he is again delving into biopics with Resistance, in which he portrays the young Marcel Marceau. However, the film isn’t strictly about being a mime, it’s about Marceau’s compelling history as a resistance fighter during World War II. Speaking with Decider about the role, Eisenberg spoke about the difficulties of portraying a person best known for his skills as a mime.
Eisenberg explains that playing a performer who was best known for being a mime came with its own challenges, explaining:
“In terms of preparation, I studied mime for nine months with this amazing choreographer, Lorin Eric Salm. He’s a student of Marceau, an expert in Marceau’s life, and a wonderful choreographer. I studied these routines for months and really enjoyed and indulged in immersing myself in that world.
It was a totally different preparation than any other kind of role because there’s so much to learn. I’m playing a guy who’s considered the best, so I had to be kinda proficient enough to look like a young version of him. I’m playing him before audiences saw him. He didn’t have to be perfect, but it had to look like there was an agility, or a curiosity, or an excitement, that would lead somebody to be the best at this particular craft.”
One particular challenge was finding Marceau’s voice because there wasn’t any examples of how Marceau spoke when he was a younger man. In addition, Eisenberg delivered the lines in English because it was an American production. He says, “I studied with this accent coach, again for nine months, because I had so much time before the movie started. We found a middle ground between being French, and also French with Yiddish influence because that’s what they would have spoken… Then I was surrounded by French cast, and my brother’s French—so I was surrounded by French actors who were really helpful.”