At 35, Jesse Eisenberg has already had an accomplished career, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, a published book of short stories and nearly defeating both Superman and Batman in “Dawn of Justice” (2016). Still, when Salma Hayek walked on the set of “The Hummingbird Project” (2019), his latest film directed by Kim Nguyen, Eisenberg did not know what to do with himself.
“To be frank, she’s intimidating to me. Not only did I grow up watching her, but she’s one of the actresses who transcends the profession. She’s almost more iconic than she is an actor, even though she’s a wonderful actor,” Eisenberg told Arab News.
The feeling was mutual. The Lebanese-Mexican actor, who has also found success as a producer, CEO, and activist, including spearheading an animated adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” saw something in Eisenberg as well.
“In person, she came up to me and said, ‘I suspect you have other ambitions, don’t you?’ I said, ‘yeah, I write plays, books, and I’m involved in other stuff.’ She said, ‘Yes, I can tell. You remind me of myself.’”
“I thought it was so nice, and I really admire what she’s doing. In fact, she’d written a piece for the New York Times about Harvey Weinstein that was coming out the next day and she asked me to take a look at it… It was phenomenal. She was able to write not just about assault, but the humiliating and constant whittling away of her own agency by this horrible person,” Eisenberg explained.
In “The Hummingbird Project,” Eisenberg and Hayek’s characters are competing to create a direct connection to the New York stock market, in order to get a competitive edge in high frequency trading. Hayek plays Eisenberg’s former boss, someone his character is still intimidated by, as art imitates life.
“My character thinks of her as this icon. The fact that she personally carries so much power was very helpful to me and for the scene,” Eisenberg said.