My name is WDW and I am a Gyllenhaalic. On Monday evening I had the most fabulous experience of seeing and meeting Jake Gyllenhaal. I thought, though, that I would give you here the full story of what it was like. All of the photos do embiggen when clicked. I took lots more so I'm sure I'll be posting them for years to come!
Over the years, since early 2007, I've been very fortunate to have seen Jake Gyllenhaal, and spoken to him, on quite a few occasions. And some of these occasions have been very starry indeed, taking me across Europe and North America. At other times, they've been on my doorstep. Jake loves London and the UK and so, luckily for me, he's a regular visitor. But I've learned a few things over the years and chief among those lessons is that while seeing Jake in real life is an absolute pleasure, it is rarely easy, often uncertain, regularly unconfirmed, and you need a bucket load of determination and luck.
This was proved to me yet again, for the umpteenth time, when I heard at quite short notice that Jake and Hugh Jackman were to do a Q&A at the Regent Street Apple Store in London on Monday night. I had no idea they were even expected in the UK. This suggested that there wouldn't be a London premiere of Prisoners but instead fans could get something better. Premieres are difficult beasts. Red carpets are rarely fun places to be - I've caught severe flu, sun stroke and chicken pox on red carpets. I've dislocated a toe, I've had claustrophobic attacks. I've been hit on the head by a pap. I've stood crammed into one spot for 10 hours. I've laughed til I cried. The star doesn't always turn up and if they do they might be rushed straight by you.
I've also experienced the other extreme - the press conference. Populated by press, rather than fans, these are more stately affairs where interest in the event can be overshadowed by interest in the buffet and if you show even a hint of being 'fan-ish' you might get at least one death ray stare from a seasoned broadsheet journalist. Plus stars are not always in a good mood.
On the whole, I much prefer fan events but those where you don't run the risk of being crushed to death or have to shout til you're hoarse to get the attention of someone being steered in the opposite direction by their PR. The Apple event gave me such hope - it promised to be small, even intimate. It would be leisurely. It could be the best adventure yet.
As it happened, the Apple event proved to be all that I hoped and more but, again, so much of it was due to luck and determination. My good friend Ruby and I turned up with hours to spare and had a good spot in a very oddly-shaped, back-to-front queue. The Prisoners event was preceded by another Q&A about handbags and those with reservations for that were ushered in straight away and a few of us Prisoners ticket-holders were squeezed into peripheral seats to make up the numbers. We were assured that the fashion show viewers would leave their seats afterwards and the rest of us could move to better seats and the Prisoners audience would be allowed in. Not surprisingly, the fashion show crowd didn't want to budge, meaning that there were double and more the number of people than there were seats. The store people didn't make anyone leave and so most of the Jake and Hugh fans were left outside the seated area. Ruby and I managed to get front row seats after three people left from that row but this took a lot of persuasion.
The Apple people then told us that we would be able to have photos taken with the stars. This is the one thing I don't have and so, as you can imagine, everyone was excited by this. A few minutes later we were told that there would be no photos. We were then told that everyone would get an autograph and it would be strictly organised so that a row at a time would be led out to get a signature. As it happened barely one row got autographs. So, while this was an amazing event for me, it's all too obvious to me that it could have been completely different and for many people it was a huge disappointment. This is the way of fan events when you are there to see a star you're so keen to see. The rewards are potentially huge but they're not guaranteed.
Finally, about twenty minutes late, Edith Bowman of Radio 1 appeared on stage, clearly impressed by the size of the crowd. 'Wow' she repeated. We watched the trailer of Prisoners and then Denis Villeneuve, Jake and Hugh walked on to the stage. Sitting on the front row as I was, the view was perfect and I was thrilled to see such a familiar face as Jake's. He looked different with the longer hair and more slender frame but he was so familiar. It was such a pleasure to see Hugh too. There were a lot of his fans in the audience.
Not surprisingly, much of the press conference conversation went by in a bit of a blur. I knew that it would be podcast by Apple and so I didn't have to worry too much about missing what they were saying. I just wanted to enjoy it and take all the photos I wanted. Amazingly for me, no earthquakes! Some topics did stand out - the admiration Hugh and Jake for Denis, not to mention the admiration of Hugh and Denis for Jake. There was plenty of teasing of both Jake and Denis. Jake's name was variously given as Joe and Jack and at one point he said he should be called Jackman Gyllenhaal. Denis' famous role as slavedriver was joked about again - Hugh said he could spend half an hour describing how good Denis is - Jake said he could spend a 'good ten minutes'. Jake also reflected on the success of Prisoners at the US box office last weekend - he was clearly very proud.
Edith wanted fast questions as time was short and she was not amused when the first question was 'Will you marry me, Jake?' Hugh found this hilarious, though. He would act as matchmaker but warned people that Jake isn't single any more (he did ask 'can I say that?' or words to that effect). Jake responded by telling Hugh how daft he looked with the stupid microphone attached to his face. It was very funny. Very funny.
After about 35 minutes, the event was rolled up because Jake and Hugh were to attend the Total Film special screening of Prisoners in the West End. As Ruby and I were sitting in the front row we were lucky enough to be guided out first to the very confined area where Hugh and Jake (no Denis) were standing for autographs. I had the magazine from The Guardian ready. The helpers tried to push me on to see Hugh and go past Jake. I said that I wanted to see both of them but I would see Jake first (I've noticed people argue with you less when you're older...) and before I knew it, there I was thrusting the magazine into Jake's hand while standing barely a foot in front of him.
As I've mentioned, I've been truly fortunate to have said hello to Jake before and shaken his hand. I have several autographs. I treasure them all. But this time it was different. As Jake had left the stage a few moments before he'd looked at Ruby and me and smiled at us. When I was shaking his hand, I said to him probably what I always say to him, that I'd been following his film career for years and that it was so good to see him again.
This time Jake surprised me. He said 'I know, we've met before!' and then he said he'd seen me in the front row. I said I was still doing the blog and he asked me how it was going and what were we talking about. I said that we were all excited about Prisoners and Enemy and it had been too long. I mentioned that the last time I'd seen him was in Berlin. He was genuinely interested in what we were doing and spent far longer than was necessary making me feel on top of the world.
I asked Jake to sign 'to Kate' if he wouldn't mind (I haven't had a personalised autograph) and he asked if it was Kate with a K (must be used to film actress Cates, I suppose!). And this is what he said:
That meant more to me than if the magazine were made of gold. It might not seem like much but it meant a lot to me. I apologise to Hugh for cutting his much loved autograph out of the photograph... I should say that Hugh was wonderful - tall and handsome and so kind. He flicked through the magazine 'to see what Jake's been up to'.
Laughing and very happy, Ruby and I went to a nearby pub with Conojito Rob for a much deserved wine and gin and tonic before the long trek home. I did, though, remember to take the photo of Jake's footwear that I promised. Looked good to me!
I think if I had to rank events, this would be supreme. I loved Cannes, Toronto, Rome and Berlin and the other London events, but this one felt like the cream on the top. Jake clearly does remember his fans if he's able to meet them more than once and even though it's been two years since I last saw him he most certainly knew me and made me feel so special and for that I will never be able to thank him enough. This is why I'm a Gyllenhaalic.
The Q&A will be podcast and so I'll post a link when it's available. Thanks for listening and for sharing in what is both a very private and a very public joy.