Listening In: Jesse Eisenberg
Musical-theater enthusiast Jesse Eisenberg, costar of this month's zom-com Zombieland, on the soundtrack to his life.
What’s the first rock album you owned?
My sister bought me Green Day’s Dookie when I was 11 because, according to her, I was gay. I’d only listened to musical theater up until that point, so it was something of an intervention. It confused me. I couldn’t figure out what Dookie was about. I realized later that not every album has to have a plot.
What’s your dream concert lineup?
Jesus and Mozart. No, wait, I’m mixing this up with my answer for “Who would I want to have dinner with?”
Do you and your girlfriend have a favorite song?
She only listens to feminist anthems, and I can’t get into Cat Power. My favorite band is Ween. I know every lyric. They never let you in on the joke, which I love.
Who did you listen to in high school to be cool?
I was just lucky to get away unscathed. Once, I was listening to Björk’s Dancer in the Dark soundtrack and this rough kid came up to me and said, “Yo, what are you listening to?” And I said, “Nothing.” So he pulled the headphones out of my ears. I was so nervous that he would hear this screeching woman and think I was also a screeching woman. But after a minute he was like, “That’s pretty cool.” Then we went our separate ways and never spoke again.
What was the last concert you attended?
I’ve only been to two concerts in my life and one of them was They Might Be Giants. I saw them three months ago in New York. It was good, but I know the band’s music so well that I only notice it when they can’t hit the same notes.
Which band comes after Pearl Jam on your iPod?
Phoenix. The song “Rome.” We’re trying to use it for a movie I’m doing in which I play a Hasidic Jew who became an Ecstasy mule in the late ’90s. It fits nicely.
Name an artist that a costar has turned you on to.
[Zombieland’s] Woody Harrelson gave me Radiohead’s OK Computer. I didn’t want to tell him I already had it. But I bought him a book of Yasmina Reza plays, and the first thing he said was, “I already have this.” Obviously, he wasn’t as concerned with being gauche as I was.
Can you remember the first song you slow-danced to?
No, but I distinctly remember what was playing when I saw a nude woman for the first time. It was Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.” I was 17, and my friends and I went to a strip club in California. So now when I hear that song, I picture this woman waving at me through her legs. It’s not a moment to be proud of.