Jesse Eisenberg

Hollywood holds a special place in its heart for awkward, self-doubting, super intelligent young men. Woody Allen was probably the first to create a career out of this particular type of personality – but it was Jesse Eisenberg who picked up the mantle in 2010.

Jesse Adam Eisenberg was born in Queens, New York, in October 1983 to Barry, a sociology professor, and Amy, a professional clown.

He began to pursue acting in school – aged nine he turned to plays to fit in - and went on to study at a performing arts college.

As a teen he began to act professionally – he made his Broadway debut as an understudy in 1996, and his first TV appearance came in 1999 on the series Get Real.

But in 2002 he won his first film lead role – playing a 16-year-old virgin seeking advice from his sleazy uncle in Roger Dodger.

While the independent movie wasn’t a commercial success, Jesse received critical acclaim for his performance and won his first award at the San Diego Film Festival. He also appeared in The Emperor's Club.

It was two years before he was back on the silver screen with a role in The Village, which he followed up in 2005 with the acclaimed American drama, The Squid and the Whale.

In 2007 he took on four film roles, including Cursed, The Education of Charlie Banks and action-adventure thriller The Hunting Party in which he starred opposite Hollywood heavyweight Richard Gere.

Jesse's award-winning turn in Roger Dodger hadn’t just caught the eyes of the critics – director Greg Motolla was equally impressed. And after meeting the youngster over dinner, and without an audition, he offered Jesse the lead in his 2009 coming-of-age comedy Adventureland.

Playing a teen working at a derelict amusement park over the summer – Kristen Stewart was also cast – he again received praise for his portrayal in the cult movie. His star was on the rise.

That ascent to fame was further accelerated by his next film role, appearing alongside Woody Harrelson in Zombieland. The comedy was a big commercial success, liked by both critics and fans.

Though Jesse was undoubtedly more prolific by the end of 2010 – earlier that year he played a Hasidic Jew in Holy Rollers as well as parts in Camp Hope and Solitary Man – nothing could have prepared him for the success of The Social Network.

Aged 27, Jesse found himself playing a real-life character, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, in a fictionalised account of the origins of Facebook – the pair never met prior to filming.

"I have a great affection for the character," Jesse has said. "I understand that there are a variety of reactions to the character, because he does some things that are hurtful to the other characters. But from my point of view, everything he does is justified."

The film, which also stars Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, was an instant hit, topping the box office and immediately generating Oscar buzz.

And it was Jesse's uncompromising performance that was at the centre of all the excitement.

The nominations started to flood in; for his work in The Social Network, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actor Award, a BAFTA, Critics Choice Award and, of course, his first Academy Award, amongst others.

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