It's not going to be long before Jake Gyllenhaal is back in Morocco filming a movie that couldn't be much further removed from Rendition, in a role a world away from that of Douglas Freeman. When Jake appeared on the Late Night with Jonathan Ross show last October, he seemed to show the symptoms of someone who has eaten too many tangines, his daily dish during Rendition's filming. But, despite Jake's well-publicised distaste for a certain herb, it seems that when he was in London working on This Is Our Youth a few years back, Jake developed a liking for a Moroccan restaurant.
Back in August 2002, as part of the publicity for The Good Girl, Jake was interviewed for Los Angeles Magazine in an apartment he was sharing with a bunch of old friends - Jake appears to have been resident chef and washer-upper, although the fact that this was a a temporary arrangement is borne out by the apartment's state of unlivedness and the fact that Jake deplored the lack of a knife-sharpener. Is one supposed to have a knife-sharpener? I thought they were naturally blunt...
Here is some background, as Jake settled down to make the lucky interviewer a breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon: 'Although Gyllenhaal's Fairfax-area house looks comfortably suburban (down to the pristine and seemingly unused living room), and the kitchen is a classic '30s model done in narrow white tile, the appliances crowding the counter space aren't mixers and coffee grinders but phones and a fax. The workmanlike decor extends to the dining room, where two of his roommates are huddled over a laptop. Sierra, he explains, has been a friend since childhood; Aristotle's her partner in a clothing design and wardrobe business.'
'The third roommate, Matthew, is asleep, having stayed up for the World Cup. In this domestically distracted environment, the actor's been forced to lower his culinary standards, but then, his career keeps him away from home a lot. Still, he stares at the offending slices [of tomato], shaking his head in disbelief. "I'm using a serrated knife."'
Back to the Moroccan restaurant... When Jake was in London: 'Being on his own exploring a new city was a kick. "There was this bar," he recalls, "that had amazing Moroccan food, and you'd smoke hookahs afterward. It was so chill. It was actually right behind the Ivy--the most famous restaurant in London--down in the basement of this sketchy building."'
Elsewhere in the interview, Jake says of his parents: 'My parents are both really good cooks. I was told if I was going to spend money on anything, I should spend it on food.' Also 'He went to Columbia University but left after two years, realizing "all I wanted to do was act." He squats to retrieve a mixing bowl from an under-the-counter cupboard. "Now I'm trying to reassess that."'
Jake recalls being interviewed by Susan Sarandon for Interview magazine in a women's bathroom: 'People kept walking in, saying, "What's Susan doing with that boy?"' Actually, what I think they said was, 'Lucky, lucky Susan'.
Jake gives a reason for doing the London play: '"Getting a little perspective on this town was important," he says, cracking eggs into the bowl. "I discovered ways of being more myself." Crack. "Being more truthful." He whisks the eggs with a dash of milk. "I think I was searching out the opposite for a while." He returns from the refrigerator holding up a Ziploc bag. "Do you eat cheese?"'
'Aristotle, the only roommate interested in breakfast at this point, is pouring orange juice while Gyllenhaal layers tomato and avocado slices beside the eggs. The previous evening the two attended a screening of The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, and what begins as a mature discussion of the film's merits and emotional impact ends with Gyllenhaal teasing his friend with little-boy fervor: "You cried? You cried!" "A little," Aristotle admits with exaggerated dignity....As we carry our perfectly arranged plates to the vintage Formica table, the roommates break into a chorus of Danke Schoen.'
I must say that I love a man who can slice avocado - I've never mastered it but I'm good at making avocado gloup. Incidentally, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys starred Donnie Darko star Jena Malone, as well as Kieran McCulkin, who has also featured here.
At the end of the meal, Jake shows himself yet again to be my kind of man: 'He refuses offers of help with the dishes. "I'm a very simple cook," Gyllenhaal insists, tipping the leftovers into the garbage. "But I guess the thing that matters is confidence. Skill can only get you so far."'
I purchased this article - if anyone wants a pdf (without pictures), please email me. Includes pictures from IHJ.