Jesse Eisenberg Got the Role of Lex Luthor by Negging Zack Snyder, Who Wanted to Give Him a Different Part

Lex plays The Game. Warner Bros.

Jesse Eisenberg, Oscar nominee and level-six hoodie-wearer, has mastered what the Pick-Up Artist community refers to as “negging,” the art of decreasing someone's self-esteem in order to increase their interest in you. Eisenberg first revealed his nascent PUA skills by negging the world’s film-critic community with a trollsy piece in the New Yorker. We've had other clues, too, like Eisenberg's role in the mysteriously expanding Now You See Me universe. But just like super villain Lex Luthor, whom he is set to play, Eisenberg’s powers are more powerful than the general public may realize. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder unwittingly revealed that Jesse Eisenberg is skilled enough at the neg (is that a noun?) to win major film roles:

Snyder originally approached the actor for another part in the film. Snyder won't reveal that character. “Let's call it a secret, but nevertheless it was the exact opposite of Lex Luthor,” Snyder said, taking a break on the phone from drawing Justice League Aquaman in his storyboards. After Eisenberg declined, Snyder went back and offered him something “cooler,” the role of Luthor.

What that role could possibly have been, we may never know. Maybe it was Aquaman, or Wonder Woman, maybe it was Metropolis’s version of David Lipsky: A reporter jealous of Clark Kent for being so mysteriously super. Anyway, Jesse Eisenberg knows how play the game. He isn’t afraid of fan reactions, or maybe he has a long con working for that, too, because despite some disappointment at press images that make Luthor look Silicon Valley extra, Eisenberg claims it’s part of his goal to move away from traditional takes on the character. “When you're doing a movie like this and playing a character that's already been played, the further away it is from those previous incarnations the better,” Eisenberg said. “Because chances are, especially with a guy like Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey, you're not going to get favorably compared.” 

Well played, Jesse. We tip our fedoras to you.