It was first reported last April by Movieline‘s Kyle Buchanan that Social Network director David Fincher made Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara perform an eight-page scene — the first in the film, a breakup scene — 99 times.
The same story is reported in Mark Harris‘s New York article about the making of The Social Network.
“Yes, you do a lot of takes,” says Social Network costar Armie Hammer, “but you feel extremely protected. He told me he knows that actors are inherently vain — we sit in front of a mirror and think to ourselves, Oh, in this moment, I’m gonna give him this look. And he didn’t want us to bring that to set.”
“So many Oscars are won in the tub,” Fincher tells Harris. “I want to take [the actors] past the point where they go, ‘But I had it all worked out!’ You have to be hypervigilant, especially with [Aaron] Sorkin’s writing, because sometimes actors will want to add another course to the meal that isn’t there. They’ll think that if you pause between sentences, it gives the lines meaning, and we had to disabuse everyone of that notion. And once they got that, they took to it like ducks.”