Movies | November 12, 2021 10:31 am

Aaron Sorkin Thinks You Thought “The Social Network” Would Be a Rom-Com

The writer/director made the truly puzzling comment while defending the decision to cast Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball

Aaron Sorkin attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. Recently the writer/director weighed in on cancel culture and defending his controversial decision to cast Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Aaron Sorkin attending the 90th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, CA.
Dan MacMedan / Getty Images

On Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter published a new interview with Aaron Sorkin about his forthcoming film Being the Ricardos, and while the chat features the writer/director weighing in on cancel culture and defending his controversial decision to cast Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, there’s one comment that stands out as truly bizarre.

Sorkin was asked about the backlash to Nicole Kidman — who isn’t exactly known as a comedic actress and doesn’t really resemble Ball — playing the trailblazing sitcom star, and he responded by claiming that … people thought The Social Network would be a rom-com?

“As far as audience anticipation, that’s something I’m just not worried about,” he said. “I’m certain that when people see the movie, they’ll leave feeling that Nicole has made a very solid case for herself, but moreover, I’ve found that you can really leverage low expectations. I learned that with The Social Network. People assumed it was going to be a romantic comedy, where, like, Paul Rudd ‘friends’ Drew Barrymore and they fall in love. And I just thought, ‘Great, they’re not expecting what they’re about to see.’”

This is, of course, an insane assertion. There is no universe in which anyone could watch the trailer for The Social Network — in which Jesse Eisenberg, clearly identifiable as Mark Zuckerberg with his trademark hoodies and blank stares, talks about creating Facebook and other characters dramatically scream things like “WE’LL SUE HIM IN FEDERAL COURT!” while a Belgian women’s choir sings a haunting cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” — and come away thinking it’s going to be a romantic comedy.

Let’s not forget either that this is a trailer that was viewed roughly 10 million times on YouTube and another 250 million in theaters and on TV. To argue that there were low expectations surrounding the 2010 movie before it came out is also totally nuts. The film was highly anticipated and Oscar-buzzy from the get-go — and again, that had nothing to do with anyone mistakenly believing they were about to watch Paul Rudd and Drew Barrymore, two actors who had nothing to do with the movie and are not-at-all related to it in any way, fall in love.

So what the hell is Sorkin talking about? It doesn’t sound like he was trying to make a joke, and given that he prefaced the comment with a line about “audience anticipation,” it seems unlikely he was referring to the Hollywood producers he was shopping the screenplay around to before it came out. (Even if he was, how could any of them possibly think an adaptation of a book called The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal  would be a rom-com? It’s all right there in the title!)

The idea that The Social Network would be mistaken for a romantic comedy is just as outrageous as if Sorkin had claimed that people thought The West Wing would be a reality dating show. But, if you must, you can revisit the trailer below and look for any potential signs of a Rudd-Barrymore romance.