18 Things to Know About Jewish Actor Jesse Eisenberg

The "Fleishman Is in Trouble" actor had a late-in-life bar mitzvah as preparation for a role.

Come with us, if you will, on a journey back to the early 2010s. Colorful skinny jeans and the galaxy pattern were the peak of fashion. While Twitter and Instagram were slowly taking off, everyone was already on Facebook and Tumblr. And Jewish actor Jesse Eisenberg was lowkey an it-boy, starring in a truly obscene number of movies between 2009 and 2015.

Thankfully, Jesse has made the jump from YA and teenage-forward movies like “Adventureland” and “Zombieland” to more dramatic roles, including his part in the upcoming “Fleishman Is in Trouble.” So let’s learn a little more about him, shall we?

Here are 18 things to know about Jesse Eisenberg.

1. Jesse Eisenberg was born in Queens, New York on October 5, 1983 to a Jewish family.

2. His Ashkenazi ancestors come from Poland.

3. He had a secular Jewish upbringing and didn’t have bar mitzvah until later in life! (More on that later…)

4. Jesse began experiencing anxiety at a very young age, and his parents enrolled him in acting classes to help him combat it.

“Performing roles provided him with prescribed sets of behaviors that helped him order what he’s called his ‘erratic inner life,'” reporter Johanna Schneller wrote in 2013.

Listen to him talk about his early roles in this video for W Magazine:

5. For college, Jesse attended the New School in New York, where he was a liberal arts major. His focus was in democracy and cultural pluralism.

6. When he was a senior in high school, Jesse landed his breakthrough role in the indie film “Roger Dodger.” You can watch the trailer here:

7. In the 2009 movie “Zombieland,” Jesse’s character is afraid of clowns — which is ironic because, at one time, his mom was a party clown.

Check out this clip where his character takes on a zombie clown:

8. He starred alongside fellow Jew Andrew Garfield in the 2010 film “The Social Network,” for which he received an Oscar nomination.

9. Jesse hosted SNL in 2011 where, for his monologue, he was joined onstage by Andy Samberg as Mark Zuckerberg — and the real Mark Zuckerberg. That’s a whole lot of “-bergs!”

Check it out:

10. Jesse is proud to be Jewish!

“I can’t separate myself — nor do I want to — from my history, and I really like to embrace certain parts,” he told Haaretz. “It’s hard not to be proud of a group that promotes civil rights, education and social justice. But the religious aspects of it have not been a part of my life.”

11. He learned how to do some magic tricks for his roles in “Now You See Me” and “Now You See Me 2.”

12. Jesse played a Hasidic Jew in the film “Holy Rollers” and prepared in an interesting way: by having a bar mitzvah!

“The day after I read the script, I went to Borough Park in Brooklyn, where a lot of Hasidim are concentrated, to see if I could realistically play this character,” he told W Magazine.

He went on to explain that after meeting with a Chabad group, “they were so eager to give me a bar mitzvah that they didn’t mind that I only knew the most basic prayers. They didn’t make me learn anything, and I didn’t get any checks from my grandmother.”

13. Like a lot of Jewish moms, Jesse’s mom wanted him to be a doctor.

14. He had one of the most iconic interview exchanges of all time:

15. In addition to acting, Jesse is also a writer and playwright. In 2013, his play “The Revisionist” opened Off-Broadway.

According to journalist Naomi Pfefferman, the play “tells the story of David, a callous 20-something Jew from Manhattan who visits an elderly cousin in Poland seeking a quiet place to revise his ill-received science fiction novel. His cousin, Maria, lives alone in a tiny apartment whose walls are covered with photographs of her American relatives, whereas David rarely sees his own New York family.  While in Poland, however, he learns how Maria survived the Holocaust by passing as a Catholic girl, and he leaves her home a somewhat changed man.”

16. Jesse doesn’t watch his own movies or read reviews of his plays because he’s very self-critical.

On the subject of reviewers, he told the Jewish Journal, “even if they say this is the greatest thing on Earth, I’m like, ‘What about the other planets?’”

17. Jesse married his longtime girlfriend Anna Strout in 2017. Together they have a son named Banner.

18. Jesse is starring in the upcoming mini-series “Fleishman Is in Trouble” as the titular (Toby) Fleishman. Other Jewish actors in the cast include Adam Brody (from “The O.C.“), Lizzy Caplan and Josh Radnor (from “How I Met Your Mother“).

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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