If Shakespeare had social networking

The way director David Fincher sees it, “The Social Network” isn’t about Facebook. Or even about Mark Zuckerberg. Instead, it’s an age-old tale of what happens when there is a ton of money — and just as much ego — tied up in a new idea.

Are you a Facebook addict?

The answer is no! Next question. [Laughs] But that doesn’t mean I don’t identify with the characters in the movie, especially in Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. But identifying with characters is not why I wanted to shoot this movie. I know that most of the audience likes to identify themselves with a person in the movie they go and see. That’s not what I do. There are soccer players for that job, aren’t there?

What most attracted you to Mark Zuckerberg’s character?

I’m fascinated with individuals who accomplish extraordinary things without getting to appreciate it in its entirety. I saw Mark Zuckerberg on CNN and I knew this kid was a genius. But you could see he didn’t know what he was doing there and what he accomplished with Facebook.

Did you try to meet him?

[Laughs] When I got on the project, [producer] Scott Rudin already got in touch with the communications director at Facebook, who had drawn a list of conditions. Among them: that the film wouldn’t be set in Harvard and that we wouldn’t use the name Facebook. There was no reason to go any further in the discussion.

There was a risk, then, of compromising on the reality behind the movie.

I received some advice from Aaron Sorkin, the film’s screenwriter. If we do our job, everybody will disown what we did — you can be faithful to the movie, but not to the perception people will have of it. And this is not the subject of the movie. “The Social Network” is about youth, pride, venality and the horrible reality of a trial with 15 billion U.S. dollars at stake. It’s a Shakespearean drama.

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