Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning Tapped for Kelly Reichardt Eco-Thriller

Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning Tapped for Kelly Reichardt Eco-Thriller
Jesse Eisenberg is expected to play an eco-terrorist alongside Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard in "Night Moves"
(Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)

It has been an eventful last few days, sort of, for the actor Jesse Eisenberg.

On Friday, it was announced in Variety that he was in talks to play an eco-terrorist in Kelly Reichardt’s upcoming “Night Moves,” which is to start filming in Oregon in October.

Yesterday, he was attending the USA vs. Spain gold medal basketball game at the Olympics when an NBC commentator mistook him for his “Social Network” character, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. “Every executive of note it seems worldwide is attending these games,” one of the commentators said, compounding the error.

How long before Eisenberg is asked to explain what his strategy is now that Facebook shares have fallen from $38 on May 18 to $21.81 (as they were on Friday), or how he thinks the potential issue of 1.6 billion shares, starting Thursday, will impact the price.

Written by Reichardt, “Night Moves” is expected to star Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard as a trio who plot to blow up a dam. “Eisenberg will play the ringleader,” Variety’s Jeff Sneider reported, “while Fanning will play a wealthy young girl who funds the plan. Sarsgaard will play the mastermind behind the bomb.” It is not known to be connected in any way to Arthur Penn’s 1975 film noir – an elliptical commentary on Watergate – of the same name.

The casting of the “Social Network” Oscar nominee could have had intertextual implications had Rooney Mara, who played Eisenberg’s love object in that film, agreed to be in “Night Moves.” Reichardt’s team approached her last year apparently, but she was never officially involved in the project, says Sneider.

With the exception of her debut “River of Grass,” Reichardt, who also directed “Old Joy,” “Wendy and Lucy,” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” has worked in a quiet, minimalist style that has made her one of America’s most interesting independent filmmakers – a kind of specialist in reflective road movies laden with subtle allegorical meanings.

Although Michelle Williams starred (with a dog) in “Wendy and Lucy’” and in “Meek’s Cutoff,” in which she played the most principled of the seven pioneers faced with a crisis on the Oregon Trail in 1845, Reichardt has seldom worked with “name” actors. If all sign on, Eisenberg (who replaces “Meek’s Cutoff”’s Paul Dano in the new film), Fanning, and Sarsgaard will be the starriest cast with which she has worked.

The news that “Night Moves” is a thriller, however, shouldn’t imply that Reichardt will be changing style. It would be a major shock if she were to turn in a talky suspense movie in the mode of a conventional Hollywood genre flick.