There were no Hiccups in Jesse Eisenberg’s visit to IWU

By admin Oct 31, 2015

Rosa Zapata, News Editor

On Monday, Oct. 26 actor and author Jesse Eisenberg came to Illinois Wesleyan University before he kicked off his tour for his debut book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups.

IWU’s Center for Human Rights and Social Justice sponsored the event. Joanne Diaz, IWU professor of English, moderated the event. She asked Eisenberg several questions about his book and then opened up the floor for more questions from students.

In her Shakespeare 393 class earlier in the day, she expressed some nervousness and anxiety about moderating, but she was confident as can be on Monday night.

In Bream Gives me Hiccups, Eisenberg takes on the perspective of several radically different characters such as a nine-year-old boy and a man who struggles with his expression of sexuality while trying to pick up a woman in a bar.

“In this book, there are many characters, and I like it because to me it feels at once totally similar because they’re all experiencing a crisis of identity. They’re dealing with a profound insecurity or some kind of confusing arrogance,” Eisenberg said. “I like to write about those kinds of things because that’s probably what I struggle with, and it’s cheaper than going to a therapist.”

Given Eisenberg’s relatively extensive list of literary publications, many wondered how he finds the time to write while also acting.

“I have a deceptively busy-looking schedule. When an actor acts in a movie, they act in it, then they’re done, and they put posters up for the movie and it gives people the illusion that I’m still busy even though the movie was filmed a year ago,” Eisenberg said.

“Actors have this fear of eventually aging out of desirability, and that’s something I think about so I eat fish eggs to stay young and I inject myself with a live squid,” Eisenberg joked. “I try to always be doing something, more out of the fear of not being hired than the enjoyment of the actual thing. I don’t hate it, but sometimes I just want to eat a muffin.”

Irv Epstein, director of the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice and IWU professor, was crucial in bringing Eisenberg to campus.

“Over the past two and a half years, the Center for Human Rights and Social Justice has been fortunate to sponsor a number of activities that help keep social justice and service at the forefront of what we do at a liberal arts university,” he said in the event’s introduction.

Epstein praised Eisenberg for his “remarkable talents,” but also mentioned his work regarding social issues. He talked about Jesse’s “involvement in the dramatic presentation in the Theater of War where the use of Greek tragedy before an audience of soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan highlighted the ways in which our soldiers confront the same issues that were present 2,500 years ago as evidence of his dedication to social justice issues.”

Epstein also mentioned Jesse’s volunteer work in the Middle Way House.

According to Eisenberg, The Middle Way House is a domestic violence shelter and transitional housing unit for women and children located in Bloomington, IN.

“I’ve been involved with them for over a decade because my girlfriend’s mother is the executive director there, so I’ve seen it grow from a single-family house to this huge, sprawling, multi-building organization that not only takes in victims of domestic violence, but also educates schools in southern Indiana about the effects of domestic violence,” Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg also encouraged students to partake in the volunteer programs available at the Middle Way House. To reach Middle Way House, call (812)-333-7404 or visit their website,

Even though the event was confirmed and announced only days before, Hansen Student Center was overflowing with visitors. The original plan was for 150 chairs, but the crowd far exceeded that. IWU sophomore, Zoe Bouras was one of many students to enjoy Eisenberg’s talk.

“I thought it was great that Wesleyan was able to get Jesse Eisenberg to come and speak. The event was really well-attended, and I think people enjoyed having him and being able to get their copies of the book signed. He was really interesting and funny,” she said.

By admin

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