Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Winklevii

We all remember this great scene from The Social Network:

Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield kill it, and the scene is delightful. But, you may ask, what exactly is the purpose of the third character, that guy whose only appearance in the movie was in this scene, and whose single line was, "Sweet"?
Please hold that thought.
One of the many things that The Social Network nailed was its casting. Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, Garfield as Eduardo Saverin, Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, Max Minghella as Divya Narendra, were all pitch-perfect. Everyone else in the movie shone as well; Rooney Mara as Erica Albright, Brenda Song as Christy Lee, and many others. I don't think anyone can even quibble with the casting of this movie.
Yet when it came to the strapping Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, casting became a challenge for director David Fincher, as he explained to Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly:
"For a long time, I held out for this idea that we were going to find two 6'5" 220-pound scullers who were going to be able to act. So we looked and we looked and we looked and finally, probably about four weeks out from shooting, I just said, this is crazy. We’re never going to be able to get [it]. We need an actor. We need one person to play two people."
Indeed they found their one person: Armie Hammer, again perfect casting. Markovitz, in the same article, calls Hammer "an actor who shared both the Winklevoss’ build and high-society charm. (In real life, Hammer is heir to the Armand Hammer oil fortune.)"
So now Fincher faced the challenge of turning one actor into two characters.
Enter actor and model Josh Pence. Pence had read for the part of Tyler Winklevoss several times, and he finally got the part. What he didn't know, though, was that Fincher planned to use CGI (computer-generated imagery) techniques to pull off some magic. Pence signed up for one thing, and ended up doing something completely different. Fincher, again in his EW interview with Markovitz:
"I said [to Pence], 'Look, if you agree to do this, all the over-the-shoulders are going to be you, you gotta learn all the lines, you gotta be there for every shoot day. And when push comes to shove, I’m gonna lop your head off and put Armie’s head on you. It’s gonna be a completely thankless task.’ He’s so awesome. He said, ‘I’d love to do it.'"
Again, Fincher:
"Hammer played the main twin in each shot. For shots that included both twins at the same time, Pence stood in for the second twin; Hammer later went into a studio, where he strapped his head into a harness to film that twin’s face and voice, which was then digitally superimposed over Pence’s face in the film. The result is a sort of hybrid actor with Hammer’s head and Pence’s body."
So although Josh Pence's body appeared throughout the movie, his face never did, and he didn't utter a word.
Well, at least not while playing a Winklevoss.
We now circle back to the clip above. The cool, understanding dude in the stocking cap is none other than Josh Pence, for the first and only time with his own head on his shoulders. Fincher added that character to the scene just so that Pence's face and voice would forever be a part of The Social Network.
Sweet indeed.