Thursday, 28 January 2010

Jake Gyllenhaal's Holden Caulfield - 'The Malcolm X of white suburban boys'

Today it was announced that JD Salinger has died, at the grand old age of 91. I may have had the feeling while reading it that Catcher in the Rye was not aimed at me - I never suffered the growing pains of a teenage boy after all (well, not in the first person anyway). But it was a book that I have read, my partner has read, my family has read and many of my friends have read. Also, it is a book that this chap called Jake Gyllenhaal has read. This book has influenced across age groups, genders, borders, oceans. It's not always been put to the best of use - I'm a John Lennon fan - but it will continue to be read, making the reader think about, and reassess, how they fit into their own world. It made me afraid a little.


So, here is Jake talking about Catcher in the Rye to Chelsea Clinton for Interview.

'CC: Right. Well, speaking of reading, are you reading anything interesting? JG: I happen to be rereading my favorite book, [J.D. Salinger's] Franny and Zooey. Have you read that book? CC: I have. Have you also read The Catcher in the Rye? JG: Of course. Many times, actually. CC: How old were you when you first read it? JG: I think I was 12. We went on a family vacation to Hawaii, and my sister gave it to me for Christmas, and I remember I couldn't put it down. You know, my production company is called Nine Stories Productions, which is an homage to J.D. Salinger's book of short stories. After The Catcher in the Rye I read everything he wrote. And now I'm back on another kick, reading them all again.'


'CC: Are you finding different lessons in them now than you did when you were younger? JG: I think now I have an appreciation of the specific more than the broad--the ideas, the sort of Buddhism that pervades all of Salinger's work. You know, I think it's genius that J.D. Salinger doesn't want anybody to make a movie of his book, because there's no way anyone can play it. it is what it is to everybody. I've met many people who actually dislike it. Especially some women I know. CC: Really? Why? In protest of the--and here I will try to shield those who haven't had the good fortune to read it yet--various tools Holden uses in his night of self-discovery? JG: I don't want to be gender-specific, and I hate separating male from female, but I do think that male angst, especially in an adolescent boy's life, is very specific. I think girls moving into womanhood go through it earlier and in a somewhat different way. So by the time they're the age where boys start going through it, they've sort of already gone through it, and some people just don't relate.'


'CC: That's interesting. I don't think I've ever encountered anyone who has a vehement dislike for the book. I know people who don't like it as much as I would have anticipated they would, but I've never had the benefit of having to defend why I like it. It's a special experience to read it when you are at the age Holden is in the book. I had to read it in high school, and it really compelled me and my friends to think about where we were in our lives. JG: Mm-hmm.'


'CC: I would encourage people to read it in the hope that maybe it would have a similar inspirational effect. Did you feel Holden Caulfield-esque while you were making The Good Girl? Do you even agree with your character's interpretation [of the book]? JG: There's something about him that makes me think he's only read that one book. He's so lost that he just sort of takes on this "Holden" persona because he understands it's universal. There's a funny line in the movie where [Jennifer Aniston's character] says to my character, "Your name's Tom?" And he says, "Tom is my slave name. Holden's what I call myself." CC: [laughs] I remember that part. JG: The Malcolm X of white suburban boys.'


Later on, during the promotion of Jarhead, Jake reiterated his affection for the works of Salinger: 'Q: What's your favourite book? JG: JD Salinger's Franny And Zooey. Q: What about Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye? Your character in 2002's The Good Girl was obsessed with it. JG: I've read that many times. I went on a family vacation to Hawaii when I was 12 and my sister [actress Maggie Gyllenhaal] gave it to me for Christmas. I couldn't put it down. My production company is called Nine Stories Productions, a homage to Salinger's book of short stories.'


And here 'Jake professes his fondness for J.D. Salinger's novel. ('It was actually the first book I related to when I was young.')' Jake's mother Naomi has also said that she reads Franny and Zooey, 'my favorite book in the world', every five years.


Of course, Jake starred in The Good Girl not only with Jennifer Aniston but also with Zooey Deschanel, who was named after the Salinger character in Franny and Zooey. Jake's character in This Is Our Youth also reminded more than one critic of Holden Caulfield.

Some influences get everywhere.


Includes pictures from IHJ.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Im thinking of reading catcher in the rye sometime in the future. Nice post :)

I wish we could get some new pics of Jake :( nearly a fortnight.

Reese still has loads of pics taken of her..severe lack after they supposedly broke up.

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Thanks Anon - it's such an inspiring book. I hope you read it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it too. I miss Jake too but I'm glad he's getting some quiet Jake Time - just hope we see him soon :)

Anonymous said...

I read and studied "Catcher in the Rye" during my first year at the university, incredible book!! So sad about Salinger's death, he was a fantastic writer!

There is a video on youtube, it's about Brothers, there was a test in France to see if the public liked the movie or not ... and people really LOVED it (public's satisfaction : 94%) The reviews are also very good apparently!

Here is the link if you want : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GX1anDvAao&feature=player_embedded#
(it's in French though... sorry! lol)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

That's great news, Anon! Thanks for the link. My French is pretty good so I'll check that out.

I studied English Lit and Classics at London University which meant I studied nothing more recent than 1880 which is a real shame. But my mum was an English teacher and so she was a good guide to the rest. I loved Salinger and I enjoyed retracing it all a couple of years ago.

Wet Dark and Wild said...

^^^ That's re-reading not retracing :)

get real said...

RIP JD Salinger.

Loved Jake as Holden. He really captured that feeling that JDS wrote about in Catcher in the Rye.

Hope we see some new Jake pics soon. :)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hi Get Real! Jake was the perfect Holden - I wonder what JDS thought :)

Oh yes! I am so ready for new Jake pics...

paulh said...

One thing that amused me about "The Good Girl" was the fact that there was not only a Holden in it, but also a Zooey (i.e. deschanel, who played one of Holden's coworkers at the store).

Today I saw "The Spy Next Door," starring Jackie Chan. I didn't think there would be any Jake links in it, but I was wrong. One of the characters is a scientist who has developed a formula for bacteria that can eat petroleum. The scientist is played by Arron Shiver, who plays A.J. in "Brothers." Remember, you heard it here first.

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Morning everyone! Friday at last...

Hi Paul :D Zooey was made to be in that film! Thanks for the info about the film - I had no idea Arron Shiver was still acting. Sounds an old film though...

Have a good day everyone!

winterbird said...

That's the first thing I thought of when I heard JD Salinger has passed away - Holden in The Good Girl.

I liked the book myself, but I always think it's a must to read when you're a teenager, I am just not sure what I'd think of it if I read it again now. In any case, Salinger is quite a character.

And my favourite Holden! He had a bad haircut but also had the most infectious giggles, and incredibly sweet when he's not brooding or being crazy! (LOL).

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Morning Winterbird! My favourite Holden too :D But that hair! OMG that hair...

BBMISwear said...

Nice post WDW! When I read about JD Salinger last night I immediately thought of the various times Jake has talked about him and his stories that he loves (and I logged on this morning and get a recap of all those times right here)! Thank you!

I also thought of Ted bringing up Cather in the Rye when we had lunch with Jake. I was telling him I often wonder how much he really knows about all the BBM forums, fans, etc. which led into Ted bringing up how much BBM has been analyzed by people - similar to Cather in the Rye. All 3 of us confirmed we had to read it in high school. I, too, have thought about rereading it so many times but I have this feeling it's going to be so different this time around. There was something about reading it as a teenager that I don't think can be recaptured. But all this talk is making me want to go out and get it and read it today! Funny how these things happen.

I'm with the team...we need a picture of Jake! Nothing too invasive...he deserves his privacy...but a cup of coffee and quick smile for the camera isn't going to hurt anyone, is it?! LOL - I think I just said this to you WDW!!

Have a good day everyone. It's the weekend! :-)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hi there BBMISwear :-) Ooh I do love to hear you talk about your Jake meeting!

Oh yes! I really would like a little picture... someone tweeted today about filling their car next to Jake in Hollywood - filling up a car with fuel? Perfect time to whip out that camera. Sigh...

Weekend!

paulh said...

I think Jake has been photographed carrying coffee a lot of times, no? Or do you mean *new* photos? I personally would be willing to buy Jake some coffee if he would oblige by letting a photo be taken. I'm not anywhere near California, though. :-(

Anonymous said...

cool. I've never read "Catcher in the Rye" I know it's affected people in different ways.

Do you know if Jake ever did anything with his production company? I've heard of Nine Stories being mentioned before but never if Jake ever did any projects

sweetpea

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hi Paul! Yep, new pics would be good. I don't reckon I'll be able to take too many good ones from this distance either!

Hi there Sweetpea :D It's well worth reading. I don't know about the production company. We've heard about Jake being involved in the production of Doug Liman's film, so maybe. Also, who knows what other small projects it might be helping or supporting.

If anyone's interested, a new MovieBrit post, with the weekly weekly round up.

It's my BBM 4th anniversary today :) Little did I know...

BBMISwear said...

Yes Paul...*new* pictures! LOL! (I just kinda used 'getting coffee' as an example because he sure has been photographed doing that plenty)! Pumping gas would be nice too. I'm not close enough either.

Happy BBM Anniversary WDW! "Little did I know" is right! None of knew did we? *heavy sigh*

Happy weekend everyone...

:-)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Thanks BBMISwear :-) It's something else, it really is - four years and now everything is completely changed. Amazing. Definitely a weekend for a viewing and letting the memories flow :)

sheba said...

I went to see Brothers again, to catch the other performances cos I was so mesmerized by Jake's performance. He's so darn good in that performance. In fact there was not enough of him in the movie.

Tobey was superb, he got it just right. The distance, the intensity. I watched also the other cinema goers and it looked like they were enjoying the performance. Apart from a few a@@holes at the back with their running comentary (I had to move down to the front) everyone was so quiet. When the lights went up, people were sniffing and wiping their eyes. Walking out amongst them smiling, I heard comments like, "that was so good" "brilliant" "God, I didn't think I'd like it - that was amazing". Some young women beside me were in absolute bits, shaking their head crying and laughing at each other.

I love the impacts of his movies, they just hit home.

Hope everyone does fun things this weekend. In our cynical world we have so much to be thankful for. Jake's one of them.

My word's limpho. Whaddaya tryin to say?

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hi Sheba! I think audiences are generally finding Brothers powerful and emotional and loving the performances. I read a tweet from an LATimes critic I think it was saying he'd heard Tobey mentioned time after time among the Academy voters. In the UK it's just suffered from lack of promotion. I hope many more see it this weekend.

Morning all! Have a good Saturday. I hope we see Jake this weekend :)

Anonymous said...

Is there a written account of BBMISwear's Jake lunch-meeting?

I would love to read it!

Silver

bbmiswear said...

Hi Silver. I am out but will post the live journal link to my & Ted's story this afternoon. Would love for you to read it & tell me what you think! :-)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

There most certainly is, Silver! It's fabulous :D

Thanks BBMISwear :-)

BBMISwear said...

Silver: I just posted the link and info re: reading my and Ted's story on the post after this one! :-)

sass said...

Fantastic article...TY.
I do love the trajectory of Jake and Zooey's career.
xoxo
sass

Madame Enfer said...

It's interesting what Jake says about the age differences in male and female adolescent angst. I can only speak for myself, but as a girl I went through it badly not only at fourteen and fifteen but again at seventeen and eighteen. My father insisted I read "Catcher In The Rye" at one point (and I greatly enjoyed the book) so that I could "see that I was just like Holden, and there was really nothing wrong with me". Haha