Jesse Eisenberg spoke to People magazine about the personal reasons behind his decision to star in Resistance, a World War II drama about the world-famous mime Marcel Marceau, who was a member of the French Resistance.
“When I learned about this story, I think I really connected to it because it’s really the story of this artist kind of finding a way to use his work for the benefit of other people. I lost family during the war in these parts of Europe. Marcel’s father is from an area close to where my family is from and where my family died. For so many reasons the story was very potent,” said Eisenberg in an interview that was published on the magazine’s website on Tuesday.
The film will be opening in theaters in the US and will be available On Demand starting March 27. Resistance was directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz and also stars Edgar Ramirez, Clémence Poésy, Ed Harris and Matthias Schweighöfer.
“The story is really about this performer Marcel, who is kind of like a fledgling performer doing one-man shows in small theaters. And then when the war breaks out, he is asked to help entertain these kids whom his cousin is saving. He is reluctant at first but then grows to not only like performing for them but realizes that the way to save their lives is to use his art. It’s this really amazing story against the backdrop of some horrific world events.”
Marceau was born Marcel Mangel to a Jewish family in Strasbourg. His father was a kosher butcher who was born in Poland and killed in Auschwitz. On his mother’s side, Marceau was a cousin of the Israeli singer Yardena Arazi. At 16, following the Nazi invasion, he was recruited into the resistance by a cousin. Reportedly, he honed his miming skills by keeping Jewish children quiet as he helped them escape to Switzerland.
People released a clip from the movie, which features Marceau making a daring attack on the Gestapo at a crowded street market.
This isn’t Eisenberg’s first time playing a famous real-life figure. He was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. He also starred in the fact-based drama Holy Rollers, about an ultra-Orthodox Jew who smuggles Ecstasy from Holland to the US.