A status update on The Social Network's real-life rowing twins
This is an article from the Oct. 11, 2010 issue
In addition to the expected cluster of cast members, random celebrities (Gina Gershon, Adrien Brody) and assorted hangers-on, a pair of Olympic athletes were present for last week's New York City premiere of The Social Network. Of course, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss had a particularly compelling reason to attend the festivities. The 29-year-old twins, who finished sixth in the coxless pair rowing event at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, were Harvard undergrads when they created the social networking site ConnectU. Odds are good that you know the rest of the story: They hired an ambitious, tech-savvy, gawky classmate, Mark Zuckerberg, to help build the database. Zuckerberg turned around and improved/appropriated the code, dropped out of school and launched Facebook. This (a)morality tale forms the movie's central plot.
The twins—"near-comically-perfect supermen," in the words of the reviewer for The New York Times—are depicted in the movie as the aggrieved parties (the "enemies" cited in the movie's promotional poster, above, right). But by most measures they've still done O.K. for themselves. Apart from settling a lawsuit against Zuckerberg for a reported $65 million (they're currently appealing the settlement, contending they weren't given an accurate valuation) and recently earning M.B.A.'s at Oxford, they've established themselves as two of the world's best oarsmen. Both are members of the U.S. team; reside in Princeton, N.J., where they train at the National Center; and are likely to be in boats at the 2012 Olympics in London. "We feel like we were betrayed and sabotaged," says Tyler. "That being said, we're proud of how we handled it. We used a lot of the lessons from sports to overcome a pretty big challenge."
Portrayed in the movie by the same actor, Armie Hammer, Tyler and Cameron both hit the LIKE icon on the film. "In my opinion it's a generational movie," says Tyler. "It reflects the public record accurately but also shows [the Facebook dispute] from a different perspective. Really, an excellent movie." Of course, plenty of folks knew Tyler's opinion already. Several weeks ago he posted a trailer for The Social Network on his Facebook page.