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David Fincher asked Social Network cast to really insult each other

In 2009, Empire magazine were on set when the most famous scene from The Social Network was filmed and described Garfield whispering abuse into Eisenberg's ear.

Andrew Garfield in The Social Network

In 2009, Empire magazine went onto the set of David Fincher's The Social Network – one of the best drama movies of all time – and got to witness the filming of probably its most famous scene. It's the Eduardo and Mark “you better lawyer up, asshole” scene (with Justin Timberlake's Sean Parker carping in the background). It contains some of the best Sorkin dialogue of the whole movie (fuck-you flip-flops), and should have guaranteed Andrew Garfield an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Nev Pierce describes the shooting of the now iconic scene; “At 12.45am on a Friday in December 2009 – day 34 of the 70-day shoot, take ten of this set-up – David Fincher shouts across, 'Andrew, disintegrate it! The computer! Disintegrate it!' It is a bastard-hard scene – bringing rage and hurt again and again and again. Garfield, in dapper dark suit and perfect US accent, is excellent, but drained. After stumbling over the same word one too many times, he bellows an expletive. Eventually, 25 Apple laptops will be obliterated.”

“At 5.05am, the various set-ups are exhausted and Garfield is too, when Fincher offers blessed words – 'Cut it! Movin' on' – and shakes his hand. Garfield calls out to the crew, 'Sorry if I was an asshole!' He wasn't. He was human. That's what Fincher employed him for.”

Pierce describes a technique that Fincher used to get the best performance out of Eisenberg during his close-ups. “Garfield leaves to change into his own, casual clothes, before returning to crouch behind the camera as it hovers close to Eisenberg. Just before the camera rolls, he leans towards him and hisses, ‘You’re a fucking dick and you betrayed your best fucking friend. Live with that.’ It’s shocking to hear. It certainly helps with the take. And it is evidence both of Garfield’s professional generosity and Fincher’s nous – for the abuse was at the director’s instruction, to help Eisenberg get in the right headspace for the scene.”

David Fincher is currently working on The Killer starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, about an assassin with a conscience. Andrew Garfield’s most recent project was thriller series Under the Banner of Heaven. Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut – When You Finish Saving the World – was released in 2022. It starred Julianne Moore and Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard.

If you’re a fan of The Social Network, check out our guide to the best movies based on a true story.