Eisenberg, 29, portrays J. Daniel Atlas, a cocky street illusionist who is approached by a mysterious masked-man with an invitation to join a group of magicians called the “Four Horsemen.”
Atlas is set up with three other magicians, a hypnotist played by Woody Harrelson, an escape artist played by Isla Fisher, and a con man portrayed by Dave Franco.
Together, the eclectic group travels from city to city performing elaborate stage shows, which often end in a million-dollar heist at the expense of someone in the audience.
The chemistry between the four is kinetic, something Eisenberg attributes to the actors’ mutual affinity for improvisation and their ability to keep things fresh during 14-hour shoots.
However, the Queens-native hasn’t always been so lucky with co-stars.
“You work with people all the time and feel uninspired. There are tricks to becoming inspired,” he shared. “Somebody once told me a very interesting story, they were working with an actor who they weren’t really getting a lot from. But he had an interesting thing on his lip, so she just looked at his lip because it was an interesting part of his face.”
Rounding out the impressive cast is Mélanie Laurent, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine. Eisenberg admits that he was especially nervous to go toe-to-toe against Hollywood veteran Caine in the film.
“One of the weird things about my job is that it allows me to behave in such a strange way in that I am really dismissive of him [Caine] and obnoxious towards him. In between takes I would apologize to him. But he was so sweet and encouraging,” he said. “He is a great actor and that is the important thing. That you are working with people who are taking it seriously and are great.”
He admits that while he isn’t a huge movie-goer, he was drawn to the “Now You See Me” script thanks to its unique take on the average heist movie.
“It’s not violent. They’re doing things that are really elegant, it is not all about aggressive men hurting each other,” he said. “It is exciting without being offensive, which is rare.”
The actor also found the role as an over-confident, brash magician as the “perfect anecdote” to the dramatic off-Broadway play he was acting in at the time. And although he is notoriously private, Eisenberg didn’t have trouble tackling the showy role once he found an emotional connection to the part. He admits, however, that he did find it difficult at times to shed the character at the end of the day.
“When you sign on to a part, you gradually take on some characteristics and it ends up infecting your life. If you spend 14 hours a day acting brash and arrogant, when you go home you only have 10 hours not in that role,” he said. “It naturally bleeds into your personal life.”
The art of performing magic also bled into Eisenberg’s life. The actor, as well as other members of the cast, picked up a few tricks from the film’s magic consultant, David Kwong, along the way.
“Everybody kind of got pretty good at what they do in the film. Woody Harrelson learned a lot about hypnotism,” he said. “Dave Franco, he got very proficient at throwing cards, so he could throw them from like 20 feet away and hit a target. I got pretty good at sleight of hand stuff.”
“Now You See Me” opens in theaters Friday. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
Watch the “Now You See Me” Trailer Now
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