After the recent Brokeback post, and while we wait to see if we will ever learn in which continent Jake now finds himself, I thought I'd take a look at another film of Jake's in which chemistry is everything. For me, Moonlight Mile is right up there, knocking on the door of Brokeback, for the connection between Jake Gyllenhaal and Ellen Pompeo and for the other connections - between Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon and between both of these and the young Jake.
There is a contradiction about Moonlight Mile to my mind. The story is built upon the most awful tragedy, not just for Joe, but also for Bertie. But there is real humour in it - and hope. I feel that a very big part of why we feel this is because of what seems like genuine affection between the four main cast members and because of the family dynamic, especially between Jake and Dustin. With Jake getting top billing and with Dustin keen to clip Jake's feathers while littering him with advice, I get a sense of Jake's nervous rebelliousness. He agreed to do This is Our Youth, as strongly advised by Dustin, but stood firm against him to do a blockbuster movie.
Without doubt, Jake impressed both Susan and Dustin. Brad Silbering recounted (in the Detroit Free Press): '"It took Dusty six months to make up his mind, six months of us talking on the phone every day, working through detail, half the time talking about anything but the script. Finally I got him together with Jake, because I truly believed that would get him off the dime. And he just fell in love with him. He kept saying, `He's like a young Buster Keaton; he's like a young Keaton.'"
We've enjoyed Susan's flirtatious comments about Jake before, but I liked this description of him that she gave at the Toronto Film Festival: '"He's very bright," says Sarandon. "The emphasis is focus. He reminds me of Sean Penn. I love the fact that he grew up in a show-business family and still has great values."' Elsewhere in this article, Jake says of his role as Joe: 'I have regrets, but I will hopefully mend them in future things'.
Here is a lengthier extract: 'If Gyllenhaal mania arises, the actor admits that there are worse fates than Leonardo DiCaprio-style celebrity. "There's something alluring about it," says Gyllenhaal, whose entourage at Toronto consists of three longtime friends who've spent as much time accompanying him to movie theaters as they have to bars. "I would not be human to say that I don't fall for that. But it seems to me that ... if you're in that position, it's not really in your control, except in the choices that you make and the movies that you choose to do. The nice thing about that position, regardless of the entourage or the girls, is that you can do any movie you want, which is what's alluring to me." Gyllenhaal, who next stars with Dennis Quaid in the Roland Emmerich film The Day After Tomorrow, feels good about where he is. "I think I'm in a pretty OK position," he says. "It's hard to get perspective. ... It's so weird that I want more even though I have a ton."'
This comraderie between the cast was pretty clear for all to see at the Toronto press conference: 'The mood at the press conference yesterday for Moonlight Mile, about a bereaved husband-to-be coming to terms with his grief, was set when Susan Sarandon sat down, turned to her co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and asked, "Did you just pinch my ass?" Within two minutes, Dustin Hoffman had laid his head in the laps of both Sarandon and co-star Ellen Pompeo, played footsie with Sarandon and asked her for sexual favours. Then the cast launched into a rousing Happy Birthday for director Brad Silberling. It was, in Sarandon's words, "a bit of a love fest" on the set of this movie.'
And then there's Ellen... The story of her fairy tale meeting with Jake in an LA carpark is well known, but here is a fuller account of it: 'A guy tried to pick her up in the parking lot behind gourmet sandwich shop Joan's on Third. She says she had no idea he was actor Jake Gyllenhaal. "She walked by and I was just blown away by this energy," Gyllenhaal says. "She does this thing with her hair where she kind of jolts it back and forth. I thought it was so sexy." "He knocked on my [car] window in the parking lot," Pompeo says. "And he was standing there very nervous and shy. He said, 'I just want to tell you that you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my entire life.' And he tried to run away. So I said, 'Wait a minute, come back here.' Normally, I would say, 'Thank you' and let it go. But there's something so interesting about his face, so soulful."
'"I looked down at her passenger seat," Gyllenhaal says, "and I saw that there were 'sides' on it," the parts of scripts actors are given to read for auditions, "and I was like, 'Oh God, this girl's an actor." Pompeo says she told him, "Maybe we'll work together someday. Thanks for the compliment. See ya. And that was it." But it wasn't. Three weeks later, under the urging of New York casting director Avy Kaufman, known for finding actors their breakthrough roles--like Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense" and Tobey Maguire in "The Ice Storm"--Pompeo auditioned for writer-director Brad Silberling's "Moonlight Mile" (at the time tentatively titled "Baby's in Black") and found herself reading with none other than Gyllenhaal. "I walked into the room and he turned pale. Then I turned pale. It was so bizarre," Pompeo says.'
'"In walks Ellen to the room and I was like, no way," Gyllenhaal says. "I guess she had burned her forehead with a curling iron. It was just like this big scabby thing on her forehead and she was trying to hide it the best she could. But finally she was like, 'I know it's really stupid but I was trying to straighten my hair.' And she blew the audition out of the water. She walked out of the room and Brad turned to me and said, 'There's our movie.'"'
Ellen says that she became used to being confused with Renee Zellwegger but she has Jake to back her up: '"With Ellen, besides that voice and the sense that people might think in a cliched way--God, I don't know. If you put Renee and her in the same room, I don't know who would come out standing."'
One can't forget Brad Silberling. His terrible personal tragedy tied the cast together and all of the actors endeavour to do it justice. Brad said of Jake (Star Tribune 2002): 'As young actors go, he's alone in his field. He's really open and sensitive. And he's passionate. He has his eye on doing things he can be proud of.'
Includes pictures from IHJ and articles from WDW archives.