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Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie


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Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie

By Matt McDaniel
Yahoo! Movies
September 17, 2010

Director Says He Put Justin Timberlake 'Through Hell' for Role in Facebook Movie. Justin Timberlake has been a professional performer for 17 years, and he's not yet 30 years old. He started at age 12 when he joined "The New Mickey Mouse Club." He was in the one of the biggest boy bands of the '90s, and became a multiplatinum solo artist in the 2000s. So it's probably been a while since someone made JT jump through hoops just to land a job.

But that's exactly what director David Fincher did before he cast Timberlake for a major role in "The Social Network." The movie is about the early days of Facebook and how the site went from a project in Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room to a global sensation. Timberlake plays Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster and first president of Facebook. But despite his fame -- or maybe because of it -- Fincher made the pop star work to land the part.

In an interview with, Fincher (who also directed "Seven," "Fight Club" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") admitted he was initially skeptical about casting Timberlake. He said, "Justin Timberlake was one of those 'do we dare?' kind of conversations -- he could easily have upset the apple cart in any number of ways." So rather than simply handing Timberlake the role -- standard practice for a star of his magnitude -- Fincher made him work for it. The director said, "[We] put him through Hell shooting screentest after screentest to make sure we could walk the razor's edge of 'extremely famous person as spoke of an ensemble.'"

Timberlake's track record in movies has been spotty at best. His first feature, 2005's "Edison," went straight to video. But he did receive critical praise for his dramatic turns in 2006's "Alpha Dog" and "Black Snake Moan." His biggest role in a major studio film -- besides providing a voice in "Shrek the Third" -- was in the disastrous Mike Myers comedy "The Love Guru." "The Social Network" will be his highest profile dramatic role to date, with Oscar buzz starting for the film long before anyone had actually seen it.

It is also understandable that there would be some hesitation to put such a familiar face in a movie where the cast is made up of mostly unknowns. For the lead role of Mark Zuckerberg, Fincher chose Jesse Eisenberg, who had a surprise hit last year with "Zombieland." Most of the rest of the young cast have been in relatively few films before this, but some are already on their way to becoming household names. Andrew Garfield, who plays Zuckerberg's former partner Eduardo Saverin, has since been named as the new Spider-Man in the 2012 reboot of that series. And costar Rooney Mara will soon reunite with Fincher to play the title character in the English-language adaptation of the bestselling novel "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

In the HitFix interview, Fincher also explained why Mara was the right choice for the highly sought-after role of Lisbeth Salander. He said that Mara is "smart and capable and works really hard." He also said that she has the right look to play the unconventional character. "She is ridiculously photogenic in a very interesting way -- she can be plain, or she can be exquisite in a matter of moments."

You'll get to see if Fincher's gamble with casting Timberlake paid off when "The Social Network" opens on October 1. His version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" starts filming soon and is scheduled to be released on December 21, 2011.

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