Aaron Sorkin: I've never met Mark Zuckerberg

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Aaron Sorkin at the Baftas
Image caption,
Sorkin's Bafta was one of three his film won on Sunday

The Social Network, newly released on DVD, was a box office hit last year and has been winning one award after another since.

Telling the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the early days of the website's creation, David Fincher's drama won three Bafta film awards on Sunday and is nominated for eight Oscars.

Writer Aaron Sorkin has already collected a cabinet full of trophies for his screenplay - a Bafta being the latest - and may have more to come.

But while the movie has delighted critics, audiences and awards bodies, Zuckerberg himself has kept his counsel.

The US entrepreneur took light-hearted issue with actor Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays him in the film, on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live.

The movie, he said, was "interesting" - one of the few comments he has publicly made about David Fincher's production.

"I don't think any of us would want a movie made about the things we did when we were 19," says Sorkin.

"But I know that I would want it told from only my point of view, and not include the points of view of those that are suing me and are very emotionally angry and hurt about me."

The other points of view in question belong to twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who alleged Zuckerberg stole their idea for an internet social directory.

Another belongs to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who - the movie suggests - felt he was frozen out of the company after financing its inception.

With no access to Zuckerberg, Sorkin had to rely on sworn statements given in depositions by all the parties involved along with other sources.

Image caption,
Actors Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg collected one Bafta on David Fincher's behalf

He also collaborated with author Ben Mezrich, whose book about the affair - The Accidental Billionaires - was written at the same time as his screenplay.

"I've never met or spoken to Mark," the West Wing creator says. "[But] he's been a terrific sport about it.

"The day the movie opened in the US, he shut down the Facebook offices, bought out an entire theatre and took his staff over to see it.

"Mark needed this movie like a hole in the head," Sorkin continues. "I think the way he handled it is to be admired."

Yet Sorkin says that even if Zuckerberg came to him with his version of events, he would not write an alternate "what really happened" film.

"What really happened was that two separate law suits were brought against Mark Zuckerberg," the 49-year-old says.

"The defendants and witnesses all swore an oath and came out telling three different versions of the story.

"I didn't pick one and decide it was the truth. I liked there were three different - and often at times conflicting - versions of the story.

"I didn't add anything to spice it up at all. Everything you see is something that somebody testified happened."

In order to pack all the information in, the screenplay was about 40 pages longer than the industry average.

Yet it did not translate to an extra 40 minutes on screen, thanks to the fast-paced dialogue Sorkin penned.

"I like dialogue," he says. "It sounds like music. What the words sound like are as important to me as what the words mean."

Sorkin is considered favourite to take home an Oscar for his screenplay. Speaking a month ahead of the ceremony, though, he is modest about his chances of winning.

Image caption,
The Social Network is up for eight Oscars including best picture, director and actor

"It's bad luck to prepare an acceptance speech, so I don't," he says.

"It's not hard for me to remember the people I want to thank or who are important to me.

"So if something terrific happens and my name is called it won't be difficult."

Sorkin set up a Facebook account while researching the film. But he shut it down soon after and has not returned.

"The movie isn't really about Facebook," he tells the BBC News website. "It's a story with themes as old as storytelling itself.

"Friendship, loyalty, betrayal, power, class and jealousy - just set against a very modern backdrop."

The Social Network is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 14 February.

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