'Social Network': Director David Fincher explains the CG magic behind the Winklevoss twins

Hammer-PenceAudiences are seeing double this weekend in The Social Network, which features two characters based on the real life Winklevoss twins — a pair of 6’5″ future-Olympian rowers who claim that Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) swiped their idea for a social networking site. Stick around for the end credits and you’ll see that the twins are actually played by two actors, Armie Hammer and Josh Pence. Yet they look — and sound — completely identical. How did they do that?

According to director David Fincher, it was simple — although keep in mind that this is the same guy who put Brad Pitt’s face on a baby in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Hammer played the main twin in each shot. For shots that included both twins at the same time, Pence stood in for the second twin; Hammer later went into a studio, where he strapped his head into a harness to film that twin’s face and voice, which was then digitally superimposed over Pence’s face in the film. The result is a sort of hybrid actor with Hammer’s head and Pence’s body. Intricate split-screens and rotoscoping were also used for some shots. Piece of cake, right? “After Benjamin Button, you go, ‘It can be done,’” says Fincher. “Give us a case of Red Bull and a weekend, and we’ll figure this out.”

The director insists that he didn’t use all this CGI wizardry just for kicks. “For a long time, I held out for this idea that we were going to find two 6’5″ 220-pound scullers who were going to be able to act,” he laughs. “So we looked and we looked and we looked and finally, probably about four weeks out from shooting, I just said, this is crazy. We’re never going to be able to get [it]. We need an actor. We need one person to play two people.”

Fincher found that person in Armie Hammer, an actor who shared both the Winklevoss’ build and high-society charm. (In real life, Hammer is heir to the Armand Hammer oil fortune.) But the director still needed another actor to play the twin stand-in, so he made an appeal to Pence, an in-demand male model. “I said, “Look, if you agree to do this, all the over-the-shoulders are going to be you, you gotta learn all the lines, you gotta be there for every shoot day,’” recalls Fincher, “‘And when push comes to shove, I’m gonna lop your head off and put Armie’s head on you. It’s gonna be a completely thankless task.’ He’s so awesome. He said, ‘I’d love to do it.’”

How do you think they did, PopWatchers? Were you convinced that the Winklevoss twins were actually played by two people? And do you think Hammer deserves an Oscar nomination for the role?

More ‘Social Network’:
EW Review: ‘The Social Network’
Dave Karger: Can ‘The Social Network’ snag three Best Supporting Actor nods?
Dave Karger’s video chat with ‘Social Network’ stars and screenwriter
‘Social Network’: Natalie Portman was Aaron Sorkin’s secret weapon

Image Credit: Armie Hammer: Marion Curtis/Startraksphoto.com; Josh Pence:
Theo Wargo/WireImage.com

Comments (46 total) Add your comment
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  • will

    “I’m 6’5”, 220 pounds, and there are two of me.”

    • linz

      loved that line!

      • v

        ME TOO!!

  • tracy bluth

    The real twins sound like such jerks in interviews.
    Despite all the rave reviews and loving everyone involved, I have no interest in seeing this. What is wrong with me?

    • yum yum girl

      you have anti-social anxiety networking disorder…or just like rom-com flicks or maybe live on Gilligan’s Island..nah really it is cool..i fell asleep when I saw the Godfather in theaters

      • Keil Shults

        Anyone who falls asleep during theatrical screenings of The Godfather needs to stay asleep.

        Just kidding.

        Or am I?

    • Carrie #2

      You’re not crazy, Tracy. I saw it and did not enjoy it. It’s okay, but to me it’s not the phenomenon everyone says it is. I didn’t enjoy having to listen to egotistical Harvard geniuses, and I didn’t think they were interesting or impressive. The movie didn’t raise any of those “is he good or evil-or both?” kind of questions for me, and plus it was all told out of order and that confused me. Jesse Eisenberg is terrific, but otherwise I don’t get the hype.

      • guest

        Hahahaha…you say you had trouble following the plot because….ooh! It jumped around in time and made your brain hurt? No WONDER you didn’t appreciate all of the Harvard references in the movie…someone who is as clearly dim as you saying that you don’t think that the people in the movie are “impressive” is the lamest case of sour grapes I’ve ever heard! HAHAHAHAHA Note to anyone else reading this: if the concept of “flashbacks” makes your head hurt, then don’t see this movie. Or anything out there with a plot. However, if you can handle flashbacks and Aaron Sorkin’s typical lighting-fast repartee, ignore Carie #2 and go see it!!!! :)

      • Carrie #2

        Wow, you’re insulting my intelligence and you CAN’T SPELL MY NAME RIGHT. So, shut up and I’ll keep my opinions and you can keep yours.

      • Daemien Navarre

        Yeah… you’re better off sticking to the Twilight series, Carrie…

    • susan

      I don’t know whats wrong with you it was a great movie!!!!

  • Henry

    I saw this at a screening and had NO idea there was CGI involved. I was like, wow, where’d they find those twins? Thanks for the insights.

    • n

      I felt the same way. I was also thinking, wow, 80s James Spader x2…so awesome! But even just one is enough.

  • Joey

    I don’t even get why he had to go to all that trouble of super-imposing archie’s head onto the model’s body–couldn’t the actor just have played both parts?? That’s been happening on tv and movies for years.

    • Laurie

      Agreed. Disney did one actor playing two roles back in the 1960s with the original Parent Trap.

      • Carrie #2

        And the 1998 remake!

    • Jacob

      The actor did play both parts, but some of the shots were too complicated to be re-shot with the same actor, so they just superimposed the head. It’s not a bad idea, seeing as how it probably saved a ton of time on-set, relegating the more difficult stuff to post, where time isn’t quite as imposing as it is during production.

    • Ray

      He did play both twins. But some shots can’t be done via composites or split screen, so they have to superimpose Hammer’s face on the model’s head. But Hammer spoke all the lines and acted all the scenes.

  • Sara

    I couldn’t tell there was CGI at all. I thought Armie just played both roles and that Josh was a stand in where needed.

    • HotMama

      Sara,
      I thought the same thing, because I watched the credits and I saw Armie Hammer’s name listed as playing the “Winklevi.”

  • MrFord

    I thought it was a great use of CGI. I believe CGI should be used to look as real as possible. And this totally fooled me, Armie Hammer looked like legit twins. And kudos to Josh Pence for standing in. There are exceptions to the CGI reall feel, like if it’s going to be all stylized like Scott Pilgrim or Sin City.

    And yes, Armie Hammer deserves an oscar nod!

  • JoshP

    They were one person? WHAT!?

  • Kries

    Thought the film was wonderful and thought Armie did a great job. Aaron Sorkin can write like no other!

  • moviemanstan

    It was a great use of CGI, even better than Benjamin Button.

  • Yabby

    Can I say that I loved the movie, but the CGI ‘cold breath’ scene pulled me out for a second!

    • Nondescript

      Agreed. As did Sorkin’s cameo.

  • mscisluv

    Why is EW going so overboard on the coverage of this movie? I understand that it was well reviewed, and that they apparently paid for ad space on this site last week, but isn’t there something else to cover? I feel like there have been 10 articles in the last two days just on this one film!

    • Keil Shults

      I’d rather a film like this (intelligent, witty, doesn’t pander to its audience) get widespread coverage than the films that typically saturate our media coverage (Transformers, for example).

    • Linda

      Would you rather see the 254th Twilight cover?

  • Dyana

    Phooey, this kind of puts a damper on the fantasy I concocted while sitting through that movie.

    • Tucco

      No kidding. I was so ready for whomever was playing the two Winklevi to take over in my twin fantasies for the Weasleys.

  • Carrie #2

    Question: other than “they can do it fancier, so why not?”, why didn’t they just do split screens? It’s an established technique, it looks fine, and I bet it’s nowhere near as expensive!

    • Keil Shults

      Then we all wouldn’t have gotten to know each other via the EW Comments section.

    • Nondescript

      Because it may work fine but it has it’s limitations and is easy to spot. I had never seen this actor before and I had no idea they were using CGI. I took for granted that they had found two very large identical twins who could act very well.

  • Amy

    yes he deserves an Oscar nod…..because there were enough nuances that made the brothers different….it was fantastic!!!

  • johnnormanhoward

    I saw it this weekend and while I thought it was good, it is definitely overrated. “The film of a generation” – no way.

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