September 20, 2011

Jesse Eisenberg Has to Rob a Bank in "30 Minutes or Less"

Actor-on-the-rise Jesse Eisenberg plays an under-achieving guy who has to put aside his epic falling out with an ex-bestfriend in order to rob a bank, in Columbia Pictures' new, action-comedy “30 Minutes or Less.”

In the film, Nick (Eisenberg) is a small town pizza delivery guy whose mundane life collides with the big plans of two wannabe criminal masterminds (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson). The lowlifes kidnap Nick and strap a time bomb to him – with the promise that they’ll blow him up unless he robs a bank. With only a few hours to pull off the impossible task, Nick enlists the help of his ex-best friend, Chet (Ansari). As the clock ticks, the two must deal with the police, hired assassins, flamethrowers, and their own tumultuous relationship.
“Nick is a pizza delivery guy who dropped out of college a few years back and now feels a bit stuck,” says Eisenberg, describing his character. “It takes a bomb getting strapped on him to light a fire under him, so to speak.”

“The movie has an interesting plot and a clever premise, but what really sets it apart are the characters,” says Eisenberg. “When I look for a project, that is the most relevant thing to me – the concept is less important than the characters. The story is told through the characters’ perspectives, and there was a lot for the actors to do. The great premise is almost a bonus.”

For that reason, Eisenberg says, he was happy to have the opportunity to reteam with his `Zombieland' director, Ruben Fleischer. “Ruben puts an emphasis on caring about the characters even when they’re doing something despicable,” he says. “He always accounts for the emotional experience of the character, even if a scene is supposed to be an action scene or comedic, and that maintains an honesty for the characters, even set against the backdrop of a very broad movie. That’s the common thread between this movie and `Zombieland' – Ruben never compromises character.

“Jesse is really, really funny, but he’s also an amazing actor – he can add to the gravity of the situation, walking a fine line between showing his fear but also allowing the comedy to play,” says Fleischer.

That focus on character was an important factor in the development of the screenplay. Sometimes, it came down to the cast and filmmakers asking themselves what they would do if they had a bomb strapped to their chest. And sometimes, the answer that came back was to search Wikipedia for a hint in how to defuse it. “The movie is comedic, but there’s also a scary driving force behind it – the incredible fear you’d have if there was a bomb strapped to you,” Eisenberg explains. “As we were thinking about it, the little things that came out were absurd, the things you would search on the internet as you tried to find a way out of the mess. It’s so specific that it’s comedic, but it’s also real at the same time.”

Opening soon across the Philippines, “30 Minutes or Less” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit to see the latest trailers, get free downloads and play free movie games. Like us at and join our fan contests.

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