After thoroughly enjoying the image of Jake Gyllenhaal playing in a bed of red rubber balls at Ikea, I felt like more Young Jake Gyllenhaal today. So I've gone back even further to one of my favourite films, October Sky, and Jake's remarkable portrayal of a young man with dreams of rockets and space while being faced with the dark reality of a life - and possibly injury or even death - down the pit.
This video is pertinent because, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will see Jake in Space again in the Moon Project, and no doubt he will remember his early foray into the realms of space exploration. The video is also pertinent because there's a good chance it won't work for all - I had to hit my PC a few times to get it going - and Jake begins by giving a message to all those in 'cyberspace' who may be trying to download the clip and having trouble. Jake then reveals he's been having his own troubles downloading (Twisted Logic, you're in good company!).
'It will download - He'll get the whole thing soon enough. I've been having a little trouble downloading lately, maybe because I'm not on the network. I'm on AOL so... when I'm at school it's easier, it's faster.'
The conversation then turns to Jake's freshman year at Columbia, from which he had been enjoying a break for October Sky. 'I was on a break - I'm going a little over but I'm on a break and I go back to school on Monday... It's coming along pretty well, actually. It's an amazing school, Columbia, amazing people, amazing teachers, amazing experience so it's very interesting.' That sounds to me like someone who's trying to convince himself that he doesn't mind going back to school.
Jake is asked what the reaction will be to him from his fellow students when the film is in the cinemas: 'I don't know, I hope... there are things that I hope and things that people say to me... I don't really know how they'll react or what people will say. I think there's, especially being at Columbia - there are people with special skills and special talents all over the place. So it's not like that abnormal to have someone doing something like this. There are people who've written novels and they're only freshmen! People who know how to take apart a computer and put it back together again - things I would never, could never do and never would think of doing and they're doing it! So I would hope that they... should have the same respect for me as I have for them and it's exactly the same.'
And asking a question that no doubt Jake will be asked again when he gets going on the Moon Project - 'How much do you know about space travel?' (How much can any of us know about space travel?) Also, does Jake understand any of the books that Homer is given to read by his teacher? 'Oh yeah - I think that underneath the mathematics of the situation and equation, there's a logic to it that can shine through. And especially equations that he works with - things like s equals one half 80 squared. If you draw it out, it makes sense. That's sort of how I did it. I'm more of a logical English guy so I do with words a little better than I do with numbers but that's how I drew similarities between the two of us.'
Jake is then asked if he ever had experience of experiments blowing up during his own chemistry classes! Laughing, Jake replies 'Well, I have to say, not necessarily literally, but probably I did all the stuff with my voice and personality of blowing things up and annoying people. Dissecting frogs maybe. Or a baby pig, I think it was when I was in 9th Grade - I think that got a little out of control at times. I don't think I should go into specifics!' Now there's an image...
Finally, Jake is asked about what primary research he did to play Homer and whether he used any props. His answer reminds me of how later on Jake would record Robert Graysmith in preparation for Zodiac, using a range of recording devices. 'It's interesting cos I think that with Chris Cooper [being hugged by Jake below], I know that Homer gave Chris his father's rings and his father's watch and told him certain things about his father. But I think in terms of the character of Homer there are two things. And there's one the character that I create, drawing from myself and from my own experiences, and then trying to adopt the characteristics of Homer, the real Homer, and do service to him as a character, as a human being really. But I think that the connection between the two of us are the rockets and learning about the rockets, it's really what helped me to develop the character besides the accent and besides asking him.'
'And specific situations when I wanted specifics about a scene, especially actually emotional scenes. I knew they were emotional for him in real life - I wanted to do these scenes service, so I would talk with him about different aspects of what was going on, how was he feeling for a ... or I would just let him talk and I didn't even want to ask too many questions. I felt like I just wanted to know what he was going through.'
'And so, then also, friends of his came to the set and I would ask them questions and I kept a notebook so I had notes from what they had told me. And even lists of personality traits. I heard from one of his friends that he used to carry like a transistor radio everywhere he went to listen to the latest news, and even on his bike. He was the guy with the transistor radio. And I thought to myself 'What kind of person carries a transistor radio with them all the time?' So that added to it and just different things.'
Crawford's big night
Tonight is the premiere of the documentary Crawford, for which Jake is on the advisory board, along with Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Brad Silberling (Moonlight Mile director with Jake below). Crawford tells the story of a small town in Texas (a population of only 700 or so), which suddenly found itself the centre of attention when a new resident moved in - George W Bush. This film looks at what it was like for the citizens of the town to live through the years of the Bush presidency after being shoved so unexpectedly into the spotlight after Bush's arrival at the head of an army of media. Fittingly, the premiere is at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, and the possibility exists that Jake may choose to attend tonight.
The Austinist has published an interview with Crawford's director, David Modigliani, whom they asked how he came to have such high-profile advisory board members as Jake Gyllenhaal: 'Those folks really responded to the film - to the idea that Crawford is a microcosm of the country. They found themselves identifying with people they thought they never would because they had shared the same experience of the Bush era. The same boom and bust. The same feeling of having been used. Their interest probably helped a bit with fundraising, but their real contribution to the film was their notes on an early cut of the film. They're good storytellers, with a great feel for film.' That's a great tribute to Jake. Here is another look at the trailer.
Includes pictures from IHJ.