Aaron Sorkin: Motivation to Tackle Facebook


From the quotable monologue of "A Few Good Men" to the crackling dialogue of "The West Wing," there is no mistaking Aaron Sorkin's writing style. As one of Hollywood's most successful writers, Sorkin is back in the spotlight with the upcoming film, "The Social Network," the story of internet behemoth Facebook's controversial founding.

Sorkin said he jumped at the chance to pen the story of Facebook's creator and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and the website that changed the world.

Facebook on the Silver Screen

"I knew immediately that I wanted to do it. It was the fastest I've ever said yes to anything," he said.

The movie, which premieres on Friday, Oct. 1, already has garnered enormous media buzz and is expected to top the nationwide box office.

In an interview with "Nightline's" Bill Weir, Sorkin said it was the characters involved in Facebook's much-debated creation that drew him to write the screenplay.

"It's a classical story -- these themes of loyalty and betrayal, of friends and enemies," he said. "It immediately struck me as something that Aeschylus would write or that Shakespeare would write."

VIDEO: The Social Network dramatizes the business battle over Facebook.
'The Social Network' Movie Trailer

No stranger to lawsuits, Facebook has been under fire almost since its inception. In November 2003, Harvard students Tyler Winklevoss, Cameron Winklevoss and Divya Narendra sued Zuckerberg, claiming he had stolen the code written for ConnectU, another social media website the group had been working on, to launch Facebook on his own.

Facebook Lawsuits Helped Form 'Social Network's' Plot

Later Eduardo Saverin, one of Zuckerberg's close friends from Harvard and Facebook's original CFO, sued as well.

Sorkin used the lawsuits to structure the complex screenplay for "The Social Network."

"The defendant, the plaintiff and the witnesses ... ended up telling three very differently versions of the same story," he said. "I decided to embrace the idea that there were three different versions of the story. That was the story I was going to tell."

Zuckerberg, played by "Adventureland" actor Jesse Eisenberg, is portrayed as an awkward outcast turned internet rock star, complete with groupies.

In writing the characters, Sorkin said he took great pains to be accurate. He conducted numerous interviews, consulted public documents from the many depositions taken in the course if the lawsuits, and used Zuckerberg's blog entry from the October night in 2003 when he created Facebook's predecessor, a program called "Facemash" that rated female students' looks.

Writing the Founding of Facebook

"He had just been broken up with by a girl and was feeling bad," Sorkin said. "He was drinking, and he was blogging before he began hacking, creating this website. It all happened in one night."

Sorkin said he wrote the Facebook creation scene for the movie based upon the blog post in painstaking detail, including Zuckerberg's drinking. On his blog that night, Zuckerberg wrote, "I won't lie to you, I'm pretty inebriated."

Even what Zuckerberg had to drink that night became a point of contention in writing the film. Sorkin originally wrote that the Facebook creator had mixed himself an orange juice and vodka.

"The ice clinking and the stuff pouring, it's just more cinematic than just popping open a beer," he said.

But when director David Fincher learned Zuckerberg was actually drinking Beck's beer that night, he insisted Sorkin change it.

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