“WeWork Wants To Raise Human Consciousness” Lee Eisenberg & Drew Crevello Talk ‘WeCrashed’


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an ageing hard drive? No, WeCrashed is a TV series about the WeWork empire expertly told by Lee Eisenberg (Good Boys) and Drew Crevello (The Long Dark). It chronicles the love story of Adam (Jared Leto) and Rebekah (Anne Hathaway) Neumann and how they built a global brand worth $47 billion and how it spectacularly crashed. WeSpoke with the writing duo about bringing the intriguing story of this iconic startup to the screen.

We commenced our conversation by asking why audiences are attracted to stories of unimaginable success followed by equally unimaginable failure. “On the way up there’s envy, jealousy and delight. Rags to riches stories are popular,” opined Eisenberg. Audiences like to travel with the struggles of characters until their visions materialize. “As they succeed, you feel the success with them.

Like many tales of idealistic tech entrepreneurs wanting to create a better world, “they lose their way. They become corrupted by money, power, and constant edification of their unicorn status.” Lee Eisenberg compared this startup experience to the Greek legend of hubris when Icarus flew too close to the sun and his wings melted. “When they fall, there’s an element of Schadenfreude because there’s a lesson to be learned.

Creative Screenwriting Magazine

Lee Eisenberg

Drew Crevello reinforced the notion of the Greek tragedy in WeCrashed. “Comedy and tragedy are classic literary forms for a reason.WeWork’s charismatic founder Adam Neumann and his wife Rebekah did aspire to lofty ideals. “The tragedy lies in what could have been and all the good they could have done had they not strayed.

Based on the hit Wondery podcast WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork, team Eisenberg and Crevello had a solid foundation on which to build their story. “The podcast is an efficient, economical overview of the story so we used almost all of it,” said Crevello.

We took the podcast, the newspaper articles, the documentaries and the books and we tried to fill in the spaces in between,” he continued. He cited various pivotal moments where they made an educated guess on Adam and Rebekah’s reactions to major events. “What might it look like when he was ousted from the company or when they made four billion dollars between them?

The Neumanns – Narcissists or Visionaries

Adam Neumann embraced the entrepreneurial spirit for many years before WeWork was even a kernel of an idea. He sold onesies with kneepads for babies and collapsible shoe heels for women. “His driver’s education instructor in his native Israel told Adam that he was either going to become a billionaire or go to jail,” said Lee. Neumann was also diagnosed with dyslexia when he was young. “You develop coping mechanisms when you have learning disabilities.” Adam’s superpower was his ability to talk his way into the offices and wallets of his investors. However, he lacked a viable business model. He was a hustler with more of a get-rich-quick mindset than a strategic businessman.

Rebekah once told Adam that all his businesses will fail because he didn’t believe in them. “Do what you love and the money will follow,” she asserted, which later became the motto of WeWork.

Rebekah’s spiritual yoga babble became the alluring narrative of what WeWork became.” Adam latched on to this and pitched his co-working space idea in that way. “He was inspired to create communities by using the language of elevated consciousness to entice investors, employees and become members.” This New Age yoga babble perfectly complemented the fact that Adam was raised on a kibbutz and WeWork’s co-founder Miguel McKelvey (Kyle Marvin) grew up in a five mother collective.

In addition to their WeWork Ying and Yang, Crevello wanted to explore Adam’s loneliness. “Our job as writers is to work out what makes this guy tick. Adam came to the United States without speaking much English and moved thirteen times before he was eighteen.” Rebekah was similarly lonely by living in the shadow of her successful cousin Gwyneth Paltrow.

Creative Screenwriting Magazine

Drew Crevello

Their combined loneliness was braided by co-dependence. “They were perfume to each other and poison to those around them,” mused Drew. They both supported and sabotaged each other. “They brought out each other’s worst impulses. It was a dangerous and romantic relationship.

Their loneliness helped us crack them as characters not as caricatures

Lee Eisenberg had his own interpretation of the Adam’s mindset. “Was he a visionary, opportunist or conman? Is he cynical or optimistic? All these adjectives are in the stew of the character.” Lee and Drew wanted the audience to debate these traits after watching the completed show. The writers were amazed at some of the strong opinions the audience had of Adam. They relished the heated debate. “We were excited to tell a story that existed in the gray,” declared Lee. “It’s not clear where Adam exists in the good versus evil spectrum. It’s probably somewhere in the middle.

The hole in each of their hearts was filled by the other

Drew Crevello echoed these polarising sentiments. “There was a group of audience that felt we weren’t harsh on the portrayal of the Neumanns. There’s a real bloodlust in some audience. If a character has done wrong, they should receive their comeuppance.

The writers were more interested in exploring what drives someone to desire becoming a trillionaire than passing judgment on the morality of their characters’ behavior. “What drives them to build a company worth more than Ford and then allowing it to come crashing down?

Rebekah came to the WeWork camp with a disheartening sense of comparison to her cousin Gwyneth. She envisaged herself building a similar success in her own right. Imagine what she felt seeing Gwyneth become an Oscar-winning actress while she was a struggling actor? Gwyneth added to Rebekah’s insecurities by marrying a rock star and embarking on many successful business ventures while she floundered. She was always sidelined as Gwyneth’s cousin and Adam’s wife in the public eye, but rarely perceived as a business woman with the Midas touch.

Creative Screenwriting Magazine

Adam Neumann (Jared Leto) Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Needless to say, the actors also shaped the characters that they played. Jared Leto brought an empathy to Adam’s role so he couldn’t be exclusively a hero or villain. “All the actors felt a responsibility and a fidelity to the truth,” said Lee. “They never wanted to take pot shots at them.” Kyle was also a difficult character to cast, because he was so instrumental in the WeWork story who’s name was often forgotten despite his talent. “Miguel never missed a beat, but he lacked the confidence to stand up to Adam.

Anne Hathaway added a distinct dimension to Rebekah. “This is a woman who throws herself recklessly from identity to identity,” said Crevello of Hathaway. “She’s [Rebekah’s] an actor, yoga teacher, marketing executive and co-founder. There’s something dangerous about someone doing that and you know there’s a crash coming.” This is in sharp contrast to how the character was originally conceived – “a New Age, privileged dilettante.

Curiously, neither Adam or Rebekah experienced any redemption after their company collapsed; even after reflection. It seems they were more in love than ever and had six children post WeWork. They certainly had misgivings and bones to pick, but no regrets.

Despite the idealized WeWork vision, it did represent a millennial idea of building a unicorn startup. The death of the Neumann-led company was considered a tragedy in the millennial world. A millennial writer on the show, Eleanor Burgess, described the story as, “the death of the millennial dream.Wework was emblematic of an entire generation of people who just got out of school and wanted to make their mark on the world. It was a perfect storm. They were optimistic. They felt they can do it all. “We can change the world, do good, be personally satisfied, and make lots of money,” exclaimed Lee.

Eleanor Burgess also agreed that the Neumanns were wrong to misbehave, but her idealistic generation was also wrong, and perhaps slightly delusional to blindly play along with it. Sometimes doing good and free market capitalism simply aren’t compatible.

The Neumanns both embraced and manipulated this ideal in order to attract investors and membership, at least on a subconscious level. They didn’t overtly mislead or lie. “It was a tricky blend of self-delusion and manipulation.” This may be the result of their backgrounds. “I think Rebekah believed everything she said, whereas Adam was a bit more strategic,” said Eisenberg. They harnessed this energy to, at times, exploit their workers.

In some respects, the rise and fall of WeWork mirrored the relationship of Adam and Rebekah. Adam was on the road focusing on fund-raising for extended periods while Rebekah was treading water as the chief brand and officer of the company. She always yearned for her moment in the spotlight which eluded her. “She really wanted to find her place in the company and her place in the world,” continued Eisenberg.

WeWork weaponized optimism

Crevello described the WeWork strategy as “weaponizing optimism.” This is exemplified in the “summer camp” episode. “The lines between work and play were blurred.


Improve Your Craft