The Associated Press
GREENWICH, Conn. — Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are no strangers to the spotlight.
After waging a closely watched legal battle with Facebook, the Greenwich natives and Olympic rowers know all too well what it’s like to be scrutinized in newspapers, blogs and books.
Now they’re preparing to see their story told once again, this time, on the big screen.
The upcoming David Fincher film The Social Network depicts the Winklevosses’ four-year legal dispute with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a former Harvard University classmate who they say stole their idea for the popular social networking site.
The Winklevoss brothers sued Zuckerberg in 2004 saying he agreed to finish the computer code for their site, ConnectU, but repeatedly stalled and eventually created Facebook using their ideas. The lawsuit began to draw widespread media attention after Facebook was valued at $1 billion in a 2006 bid by Yahoo. The legal dispute was settled in 2008 for $65 million in cash and Facebook shares, according to published reports.
That the controversial origins of Facebook, which is reported to have more than 500 million active users, would become the focus of a big-budget movie comes as little surprise to the twins.
“The whole controversy with Facebook has taken a life of its own,” Tyler Winklevoss said in a phone interview in July from England, where the brothers are continuing their studies. “It almost seems like a logical progression. … We didn’t go from zero to 200 miles per hour overnight.”
The film, from a screenplay based on the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich, stars Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, 29 years old on Aug. 21, are played by male model Josh Pence and actor Armie Hammer, respectively, with Hammer’s face superimposed on Pence’s body using computer graphics imaging technology.
The movie will be released in theaters on Oct. 1.
The brothers say they have not seen the film but have viewed the trailers and read the screenplay which is heavily based on news articles, interviews and other public documents.
“I thought the trailer captured the controversy quite well,” Tyler said. “It’s obviously a dramatization to some extent [but] the movie appears to be up-to-date with the journalistic record.”
Tyler said it was not until the filmmakers finished shooting most of the scenes that he and his brother got to meet the actors who portray them. Hammer and Pence deliberately did not meet the brothers beforehand because of concerns that the actors might not respond as well to the filmmaker’s directions for portraying their characters, according to Tyler’s and Cameron’s understanding.
The way the twins ended up connecting with the actors: Facebook.