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Interview

Hammer Time

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Hammer Time
Photo Source: Jason Merritt
For a young actor, could there be anything better than getting a role in a David Fincher movie written by Aaron Sorkin? If you're Armie Hammer, there is: getting two roles. Hammer plays twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the Harvard rowing champs embroiled in controversy over the creation of Facebook in "The Social Network." The 24-year-old actor won the dual roles despite a relatively short résumé that includes a stint on the CW series "Reaper" and a four-episode run on "Gossip Girl." He recently chatted with Back Stage about preparing to play twins, whether he ever got confused on set, and the awards-season buzz surrounding the film's supporting cast.

Back Stage: Are you on Facebook?

Armie Hammer: I have not heard that question as much as I thought I would, and it's a really easy answer: No, I'm not on Facebook. The irony of the whole thing is, all of the actors who were involved with the Facebook movie are not involved with the website at all.

Back Stage:
Ever going to cave to the pressure?

Hammer: I've caved to the pressure before—I had a Facebook page in college, when you needed it. College life was really lived on Facebook when I got to college, so I did have one, and I'm ashamed to say I became a bit of a Facebook addict for a little while. I would call myself Facebook sober at this point.

Back Stage: How did the role in "The Social Network" come to you?

Hammer: It was a much easier process for me than it was for Fincher or Sorkin. I came in when they needed to get the roles filled, and three and a half weeks before we were supposed to start production, Josh [Pence, Hammer's body double] and I came around. I went in twice and auditioned. The first time was with Aaron Sorkin and the second time it was with Sorkin and David Fincher. I got a call a couple days later saying, "Congratulations, this is going to be a great opportunity. You start tomorrow at 4 a.m." That was my life for about eight months.

Back Stage: At what point did you know you'd be playing twins?

Hammer: About a week after that. No one was really sure how they were going to do the twins, so they weren't sure what to tell us. Once they decided that they needed identical twins and that it would be easier for them to use actors instead of finding real twins, they let us know. Getting a call that you get to be in a David Fincher film written by Aaron Sorkin is one of the most amazing calls you'll ever get, and getting the call that you get to play two roles in a David Fincher film written by Aaron Sorkin is insane. It's the best thing in the world.

Back Stage: How did you wind up preparing?

Hammer: We did the rowing in Marina del Rey. We rowed every morning at about 4:30 or 5 a.m. After that, we'd go to Fincher's office in Hollywood and sit at a table with Fincher and Sorkin and discuss the scene, the characters, and all that. I worked with my acting coach and did a lot of research. I looked up twin psychology and tried to get in depth on that. Thanks to Aaron and his way of writing, he had come up with the characterizations for us, and he created these characters who were so complete on paper that, really, the research that was left for us was all the peripheral stuff: What's it like to go to Harvard? What's it like to be born in Connecticut? All that kind of stuff.

Back Stage: Did you talk to either Cameron or Tyler to prep?

Hammer:
No, not to prep. I talked to them post, which was really surreal. Creating these two guys in my head and finally seeing them incarnate was really strange for me. I'm glad I didn't meet them before, because I would have been like, "Well, Sorkin, I was with them for 20 minutes and I feel like I know them better than you do, so you should change this in your script." I never did that.

Back Stage: What did they think of your performance?

Hammer: I think they're happy. The way that all of us tried to approach our characters was with a sense of humanity and understanding where they come from, and not what they did but why they did it. Hopefully, they were happy that their perspective was shown in the movie.

Back Stage: Did you ever get confused which twin you were playing?

Hammer: There was a night when we were shooting for 12, 13 hours and it was getting late. You let them bleed together a little bit, but that was really something that we all tried to stay on top of. Having David Fincher being the consummate director was really great, having him there the whole time. We had a system: I would always start playing Cameron Winklevoss, and I would shoot the entire way like that until Fincher was done and he was happy with Cameron. Then he'd say, "Okay, switch." I'd go and change clothes, hair, and makeup and play Tyler. The first couple days were hard, but then we came up with a system and went with it.

Back Stage: What was working with Josh Pence like?

Hammer: Great. He is an amazing guy. He was so mature about the whole facial-replacement thing. He handled himself like such a gentleman and was such a team player who was there for everybody. Whenever I was on set, Josh was there. Having him there to lean on and create these guys together was really nice.

Back Stage: Did Fincher have one single piece of advice for you that stands out?

Hammer: He gives such good advice all the time that it's hard to grab one thing. His approach is the greatest learning thing. Watching how he approaches a scene, an actor, anything—he's so capable, it's really amazing to watch him do his thing.

Back Stage: There's already big Oscar buzz going for so many of the supporting cast in "The Social Network": Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, and yourself. How are you handling that?

Hammer: It's very surreal. I never expected anything like this. I'm more than happy to ride the coattails of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin.

Back Stage: If you, Garfield, and Timberlake all landed supporting Oscar nominations, what would that mean to you?

Hammer: It would be amazing and a huge honor. I'd be more than happy to lose it to Andrew Garfield. I think he did one of the more amazing jobs in the movie.

Back Stage: Any bets among the cast about who's going to get nominated?

Hammer: I think we're all too grounded and superstitious to place bets like that.

Back Stage: What do you have coming up next?

Hammer: I'm working on a great project, with an amazing writer-director, that's a small indie film I'm really excited about. We're going to make an announcement soon.


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