Monday, 18 April 2011

Jake Gyllenhaal conquers the world: 'PoP was my Indiana Jones and Source Code my Hitchcock'

I'm very grateful to Lady Ekster for sending across scans from the April edition of Dutch magazine JFK, with Jake Gyllenhaal looming large from the cover. Not only that, she has taken the time to do a full translation of the article. The pictures may be less recent but the interview is new and it's a goodie. It is called 'From cult hero to crown prince' and the magazine cover has the legend 'Jake Gyllenhaal conquers the world'.

'Everybody knows he can play a tender cowboy and a bothered teenager, but Jake Gyllenhaal never got to be a real action hero. Until last summer, when blockbuster Prince of Persia got released. And his newest flick, action thriller Source Code, is certain to earn him the medal Most Versatile Actor. In Los Angeles he tells JFK’s Jorrit Niels how he became Hollywood’s crown prince.'

'Jake Gyllenhaal worked as a lifeguard for years, but never rescued a soul. “Well… once,” he tells, his eyes looking at the table in front of him. “I saved someone from a jellyfish bite. By peeing on him.” An actor’s profile simply is incomplete without such little fun facts, so why not share some more: Jake Gyllenhaal used to be a big video game fan (Zelda, Super Mario Bros. and Metroid), hardly ever watches tv, is a fitness freak, cycles alongside Lance Armstrong regularly, and once confessed to his diary that he loved football more than his family. “I know you guys in Holland will understand that.”'

'We meet up with the thirty-year old actor in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. He is dressed in a crumpled outfit made up from a black’n’blue shirt, black jeans and brown boots [us Gyllengirls will know immediately which outfit that was! ;)]. Underneath his clothes dangles a necklace with a Madagascan sapphire. A gift from his sister Maggie, much like her brother a celebrated actress who shot to fame with the arthouse hit Secretary, in which she let her boss undress and humiliate her. “That was not exactly an erotic film from my point of view,” Jake says with a smile.'

'Brother and sister starred in Donnie Darko, the 2001 cult phenomenon, but since then brother has ‘gained upon’ sister. There was a period filled with some brother-sister competition. “I’ve always been the one calling her for advice, not the other way around. I’ll always be her little brother. My sister is a strong woman who has always been very protective of me, both in jobs and in relationships. Each and every girlfriend has to pass her test. When we were young, she told me what to do; up until a theatre piece we performed at home in which I was a lonely tree in the corner and she was the star. But we’ve both grown up, have developed different personalities and inspire each other because of that.”'

'His sister isn’t the end of the connection between family and films. Gyllenhaal’s father is a director, his mum a screenwriter. They are progressive parents; Jake celebrated his bar mitswa doing voluntary work in a shelter for the homeless to ‘do good’ for the community. Steven Soderberg once rented the room above their garage. “It always was like a circus at home. We had quite a lot of filmmakers visiting us. Jamie Lee Curtis is my godmother and Paul Newman gave me my first driving lesson. Just like someone who grows up in Holland speaks Dutch, I speak Hollywood’s language. Better put: the language of film.”'

'If there is somewhat of a pattern to be discovered in Jake’s work, it’s his drive to not be a stereotypical actor. Next to small, independent movies like Proof, Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead - the ones that laid the foundations of his reputation - there was the modest success of disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. After altruistic roles his evolution is now complete with two action-packed movies: video game adaptation Prince of Persia and action thriller Source Code. “I’ve always dreamed of playing roles like this. PoP was my Indiana Jones and Source Code my Hitchcock,” Jake comments. In Source Code, Jake plays captain Colter Stevens. Stevens wakes up on a train heading for Chicago. The passengers seem to know him, but he has no idea where or even who he is. He subsequently discovers he has been transported into someone else’s body in the last eight minutes of their life. His mission: to relive those eight minutes time and time again to find that one passenger who’s trying to blow up the train. The result of it all is something Hitchcock would have been proud of. “The thing I was most attracted to was the idea of gaining access to the last eight minutes of someone’s life,” Gyllenhaal elaborates. “A fascinating idea. The countless possibilities! What would you change? Who would you help? I’m not a huge sci-fi fan but playing a role like this is só cool. After I had read the script for the first time, I knew I would want to spend two hours in the cinema watching it.”'

'Those last eight minutes bring us to a logical question: whose eight minutes would Jake himself want to relive? “It’s more than just eight minutes inside someone’s body. That’s Being John Malkovich. These are the lást eight minutes of someone’s life, and because of that I would pick somebody who has had a big influence on the world. A historical figure whose ideas I admire. I would, for instance, tell Lincoln not to go to that theatre piece, or tell Kennedy not to visit Dallas. There is so much to choose from.”'

'Source Code is directed by Duncan Jones. David Bowie’s son is famous because of that other sci-fi-movie-on-a-tiny-surface: Moon. “Duncan belongs to the line of great directors I have been working with. Directors are the principal reason why I take on a role. That is the one and only aspect of my career that has some calculation to it. When I’m at work I’m not focusing on the final result, I’m focusing on the experience of making that particular movie and the people I get to work with. Like Ang Lee on Brokeback Mountain, David Fincher on Zodiac and Sam Mendes on Jarhead.”'

'Prince of Persia, last summer, Love and Other Drugs, last January and now Source Code make Gyllenhaal into a very present figure in the cinema and countless magazines, papers and tv shows. Is he ever afraid of an overkill? “You know, talking about my work is part of the job. My work remains the most important thing, of course. I notice how I’m getting more and more fussy lately; I allow myself less space to move. People take in an interest in every actor whose face shows up in the cinema every other season and I think that’s reasonable. But despite all that I do wish to keep my private life private, including both the joys and the tears.”'

'It’s a noble ambition, but just look outside the entrance of the hotel: a group of paparazzi photographers, waiting for Jake to hop on his Triumph Bonneville again. It’s upsetting, but not something that makes him nervous or cautious. “Of course I lose myself in a good party every now and then, but I’m very aware of what I’m doing. We live in a world in which everything is connected. The more self-conscious you grow, the more you are able to take care of yourself in this world. But by self-conscious I don’t mean cautious. It has a lot to do with taking risks. I can be who I want to be and if that’s not enough, then what I am will do. I’m not a faker anymore and I won’t spend my energy trying to live up to other people’s expectations.”'

'That’s pretty deep for a Hollywood child. You’d think. There’s more to Gyllenhaal than a promising actor. He studied Eastern Religion at Columbia University in New York, and although he does not consider himself a Buddhist, it has definitely left its marks on him. “I have never found happiness in material success, nor in the quest for that success. That’s a thing to remember. Also, I’m not analysing everything anymore. I used to think and think and think and consider an option for years. These days, I’m guided by my gut. Jim Sheridan, who directed me in Brothers, once told me: “You should try to not think for a year.” I had a big laugh about that, and then a big thought.”'

'After a bored soldier in Jarhead, Jake portrays a military man again in Source Code - the kind of guy he admires. Not that he’s anything close to a right-wing redneck, but he likes the mindset. “There’s the physique in the first place. I’ve been athletic since childhood. Cycling, running; I love it. It keeps my mind focused and fresh. Second, there’s the feeling of ‘going it together’. We had a limited budget for Source Code so we filmed in dilapidated store houses with bad air conditioning, instead of sterile studios. That’s what I like most about films; their complete contradiction to Hollywood’s glamour. Weirdly enough I don’t feel like an actor when I’m on set. I feel part of a bigger community in which everybody works together. That’s why I understand the military and have an honest respect for it, regardless of the politics behind it. Those films and the months I spent researching, training and talking to veterans have been a major influence in my life.”'

'It’s funny he should say so, because you don’t see a tough soldier in his melancholic blue eyes, nor do you hear one in his soft tone of voice. Still, there’s something dark deeper inside the actor. It reared its head during the filming of Jarhead. During a film-fight with a co-star things got serious and Gyllenhaal stopped acting and started beating the guy. In another scene where he had to strangle a co-star, he kept going until someone hit him in the face. What happened there? “I do have that agressive side to me, I do. Sometimes I can totally lose myself in a role. I like to think about what I would do if it really wére me on that train. Would I fight or would I run? Am I a coward or a hero?” He emphasizes that it’s not to do with frustration. “I like putting myself to the test. I get restless when I’m too much at ease. The marines were amazing. I returned from boot camp with a shaved head and it scared the hell out of my mother,” he says, grinning widely.'

'The paradox between likability and danger is the secret to Gyllenhaal’s success. Showing emotions without the need for words, being light and bubbly yet very present, like a chameleon - it has all been part of the transition from ‘who is Jake Gyllenhaal’ to ‘I want Jake Gyllenhaal’. It’s most welcome after a few stormy years. His good friend and co-star in Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger, died in 2008. It’s still difficult for Jake to talk about him. “That movie was unforgettable, an amazing experience for everyone involved. But Heath’s death was… It was a very hard time.” At the end of the same year, his godfather Paul Newman died. A year later, in 2009, his parents divorced and his two-year relationship with Reese Witherspoon ended in a break-up. It’s been a process of growing up quickly, Gyllenhaal says with a sarcastic tone of voice and ditto look in his eyes. “Some relationships last a lifetime and some don’t. At least I’m more comfortable with myself nowadays; I feel better in my own skin. All that’s left is becoming a father and then I’ll finally be a big boy.” A subtle hint? “Oh no, not at all. We should talk about that a few years from now.”'

And finally...

I can't resist a review that is built upon a comparison between Source Code and the sandwich chain Subway.

Includes stills from IGN. Many thanks to Lady Ekster for such a great interview!


Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,
Thanks to you and Lady Ekster for this really good interview and the translation. Loved it :-)
Have a nice evening everyone !

mermon said...

I liked it too. Thank you Kate and Lady Ekster for huge work on translation - that was quite long and fine. I apreciate your effort.

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Thanks Christina! It's a fantastic interview and Lady Ekster did a fab job :)

Thanks Mermon!

gyllenhaalisgr8 said...

Man, that was a great article! I really felt like Jake let us inside a bit more. Great post, ladies!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, thanks to Lady Ekster for the translation.

I wish we didn't have to wait two years to see "End of Watch" (but perhaps well see how he survived Iceland with Bear soon)


what a joke said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Monica said...

A great interview, wet dark.
Thank you, Lady Ekster.

LadyEkster said...

Dearie me! WDW, I didn't know you were going to spend an entire post on this! That's so sweet of you, thanks. :)

You're welcome ladies. I'll happily translate whenever Jake is staring at me in a book store... even if it's just via the front of a magazine. ;-)

I'm glad to report that a good friend of mine is visiting NYC at the moment, has yesterday seen Source Code on Times Square and is now completely converted to Gyllenhaalism: "It's soooo cool! I want to marry Jake Gyllenhaal!!" *grin*

Wet Dark and Wild said...

As usual trolls are not to be fed and will be deleted.

Thanks Gyllenhaalisgr8 and Sweetpea :)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hi Monica!

It's a pleasure, Lady Ekster :) It's a great interview and you put so much work in to it. Thank you! That's great news about your friend!

BBMISwear said...

Thank you WDW for the terrific posts over the last few days - I've been gearing up for a mini-getaway so just now am getting a chance to check all the recent posts out! Great stuff per usual! And thank you Lady Ekster for sharing and translating the Dutch article! I love the many articles and interviews that Jake does (I have quite a pile with me to read while on vacation as a matter of fact) and to get a foreign one translated is always a treat.

The pictures from Iceland have been fun to see and makes me look forward to the episode even more (especially while hoping for some guitar playing)! And the pictures with Seth Rogen had me instantly thinking about the deleted scene from Knocked Up where Seth goes on and on about Jake and Heath in BBM - I have such a wild memory from a Brokie gathering in Colorado four years ago when a group of us first discovered that clip. I think we watched it about 10 times in a row laughing our butts off!

There's always such great stuff here that reminds me of other great stuff and great people. Thank you for that WDW!!!!!

Oh, and to "what a joke"...what a joke to even have someone like you posting here. And you even read the article? Talk about having nothing going on - I wish I had time to read and comment on blogs about people I didn't like very much. I barely have time to do so on subjects that interest me!

To the rest of to you next time!


Wet Dark and Wild said...

Good to see you BBMISwear :-) Have a great holiday with so much reading to do! I can't wait to see Man vs Wild. It's so good to know we'll get a tv show from that adventure. I want to hear Jake talk about it too. So good as well to see Jake with Seth :)

gyllenhaalisgr8 said...

Trolls?? Was Charlie Sheen here?? Haha!!

paulh said...

I just got back from seeing "Rio." I think my faith in movies has partially been restored. Jake links: Ann Hathaway and Jamie Fox.

I'm gearing up to run a book discussion of "To Kill a Mockingbird" this Thursday evening at a bookstore in Dedham, Massachusetts. Right now I'm looking at literary criticism websites. Interestingly enough, the names of the characters in the book are full of meanings: "Atticus" means "from Athens;" Calpurnia was Julius Caesar's third wife, a model of virtue and faithfulness; "Radley" means "red meadow;" "Dolpus" means "noble wolf," etc. I suspect that even the sheriff, Heck Tate, is modelled after Hecate.... It should be a fun time.

Snow said...

Fantastic interview, thanks a lot for posting, WDW, and thank you Lady Ekster for the pix and fantastic translation!

Yep! This one also seems to share a bit more of him, which is absolutely fantastic!!!

Have a great evening/night everyone!


Carol said...

What a great interview. Thanks so much ladies:)

On a major post catch up this evening as I have been occupied with all things theatrical for the last week. I hope we won't be waiting too long for Man vs. Wild.

Loved the pic with Seth Rogen aswell.

Monica said...

Paulh, Rio was a disappointing to me.
I expected more. But I'm in love with Blu! And with all those beautiful images of Rio de Janeiro!

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Morning Paul! That's good news :) I adored Rio although I saw it an extraordinary gala screening in Leicester Square. FUll of dancers, little kiddies having their faces painted, jungle decorations everywhere and cupcakes! No cocktails unfortunately... But I thoroughly enjoyed it - and the 3D was spot on. I must see it again this weekend.

Good luck with the book discussion!

Thanks Snow!

Hi there Carol! Good to see you :) I'm hoping the Man Vs Wild will be soon - shouldn't be too long I hope. Good luck with the theatricals :)

Morning Monica! Rio de Janeiro looked full of life and colour in the film. My foot was tapping all the way through.

Have a lovely day everyone. Another beautiful sunny one here. Surely a record April and set to continue. No doubt the rain will return on 29 April ;)

TD said...

Dear WDW, IMHO this was a very interesting but slightly weird interview. How much do you take as real when it churns out all the old 'tales' about godfathers, bar mitzvahs, football and video games - yeah, right - he knows just what to say and to who - and yet describes him as conquering the world. However, if PoP is his IJ and SC his Hitchcock, then - without lessening my enjoyment of those films - I think that says a lot about the state of Hollywood. He also, for Jake, comes across as a little bitter about 'relationships'. And strange to hear someone describing being self-conscious as a useful thing! He must mean it literally.
WDW - Do you think you could change the 'Heath's dead' to 'Heath's death' when you have a mo?


Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hi TD! I definitely think that Jake says what he wants people to hear and that he has a stock of stories that fit the questions he's so regularly asked. I find in this interview a slight ironic tone, a self-consciousness with what he's saying and yep some bitterness at the end. I suppose there'll be quite a few post-PoP audiences that haven't heard these stories and so they do fit the bill. Jake's quite a master of these interviews. But I still sense that behind it all lies a sincerity, particularly with his audience, if not for the media. Having seen Jake as a fan and as a member of the press, there is a difference. I also suppose having observed and listened to Jake for so many years we have our own ideas. I do, though, stand by an old opinion that Jake is more willing to talk at length with non-English speaking interviewers. Interesting!

Susan said...

Bless your heart and thanks so much, LadyEkster, for taking the time to provide a translation.

TD, you are not alone in thinking that this interview was "slightly weird." I had the feeling as well that it unnecessarily rehashed a lot of old territory. As for that one statement, I totally agree: "strange to hear someone describing being self-conscious as a useful thing." It sounded very odd that Jake would say that, and I wonder if he actually said "self-aware," which makes more sense to me.

Overall it came across to me as if the interviewer did some cursory research online to lengthen his story, perhaps perpetuating some slight distortions of actual truth. WDW, how did you view the content of the interview?

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hi Susan! I suppose we must remember that this is a translation and so certain words may be difficult to interpret - especially with the way Jake can speak! I reflected on it above your comment :)

LadyEkster said...

Interesting discussion in these last few comments. :)
I agree with WDW. Let's not forget that this has been a double translation; first from English to Dutch, then back again. Plus, I'm not a native speaker so even though I try my best my English is faaar from perfect. It's very well possible that Jake originally said self-aware instead of self-conscious, I don't know... So please blame me for the weird things, not the interviewer and certainly not The J. ;-)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Hey Lady Ekster! Your English is perfect and I can tell you why, because you write things such as 'faaar' like that, which is such an English thing to do! But as you say this interview has been translated more than once and sometimes Jake plays with language. Which I do like as that's what it's for :)

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Post coming in a few minutes - I've been distracted by the golden orb in the sky.