Jake Gyllenhaal takes to Reddit to promote his new film, Nightcrawler, which hits the Irish screens this weekend
Q. I heard while doing a ride along with the LAPD for End of Watch you witnessed a murder. What was that like? Did it affect your approach to the role?
A. That was a pivotal moment for me, in that I started realizing where I could really learn from the process of preparation for the roles that i play, and the severity of real life, and how even though what I was doing was fictional, there was a responsibility I had. And it’s really wonderful that you asked that question, because it was a real turning point for me in how I approach the process of what I do, and I could see how absurd it is, what I do, and yet at the same time it has great import, and that was specifically a very shocking but very moving moment for me – as a human and as an actor.
Q. When you were a kid is this how you envisioned your future? What did you want to be?
A. A soccer player.
Q. Hi Jake! I read that you almost got the role for Batman in Batman Begins. Do you think Maggie auditioned for The Dark Knight just to irk you? Cause that would be a really sister thing to do. On the subject of family, I also found out that that you’re a descendant of the noble Gyllenhaal family from Sweden. Does that mean we have to call you Sir Jake?
A. Yes. Absolutely. In fact, that’s what my sister calls me.
Q. I think celebrity culture is strange, because celebrities are kind of treated as non-people, rather more like a product or something to be consumed. How does your celebrity status impact your sense of humanity or self? I ask this as someone who is certainly not a celebrity but still sometimes has a hard time tapping into what it means to feel part of humanity, or human.
A. What I’ve realized is that there’s a real intimacy being in a movie theater with someone in the dark. And I have connections with people whom I see in that context, and the movies that they are in really move me.
But I think it’s really important to see that STORY is the most important thing. Ultimately it’s not the person, but the story that has the greatest impact.
And so I always find it fascinating being the face of the story. Because I think all the feelings that come with the story get put on the actor. And it really has to do with many, many people’s work who created what you’re seeing.
So it’s a great irony.
But I also think it’s very wonderful when people are positive.
I’m also a firm believer in performances and movies and any type of art eliciting many different types of responses. So I love hearing people’s opinions, good and/or bad, about things that I’ve created.
Q. What was it like working with Heath Ledger? Are there any stories in particular that capture what he was like as an actor/person?
A. Well, I think that he was and is one of the best actors of my generation.
And as it goes with people who are as talented as he was, sort of constantly an inspiration.
I remember him saying to me, early on, before we started shooting Brokeback Mountain, that his character had a hard time with the light, that bright lights were overwhelming to his character. And that was one of my first insights into the process and preparation for acting that i had never really experienced, that a character would feel something from the elements that would affect his whole being. And Heath gave me that.
Q. Hey Jake – just wanted to let you know that both Prisoners and Enemy were fantastic!
A. My question is: do you have any plans on working with Denis Villeneuve again?
Q. Out of all the scripts you’ve read, what is the one that you think was the most well-written? What made it so good? Have you ever had any aspirations to write if you haven’t already?
A. I would honestly say the script for Nightcrawler, the movie that’s coming out tomorrow.
There’s an absolutely original character at the center of it, that existed on the page before I was even allowed to bring it to life. And there’s a true brilliance, structurally, and a water-tight storyline, but most of all, there’s an originality in tone, where you’re on the edge of your seat and disturbed and thrilled but at the same time, laughing. I think we live in a time where people tell us that feelings are supposed to be one specific things and can’t be a mixture of a ton of things.
And this movie, to me, seems to capture so many feelings in one.
And the script did that.
And that is a rare, rare thing for a script to do.
If my reddit AMA is any testament to me as a writer, then the answer should be no. But I come from a family, my mother is a screenwriter, and writing is something I hugely admire.
Q. Seeing as tomorrow is Halloween, do you have any favorite scary movies?
A. Most romantic comedies scare me.
Q. Hi Mr. Gyllenhaal! If you where another person for one day, who would it be?
A. Hmm…You just described my job.
Q. Hi, you’re great. Donnie Darko struck a major chord with me as a teenager dealing with depression, and even empowered me to feel significant despite feeling doomed. How much of Donnie’s character resonated in your personal life? Your portrayal of him was so memorable. But now for my serious question- what IS a fuck-ass?
Well, to answer the first question, I… a huge part of Donnie was where I was in that time in my life, and I think that it speaks to the unsolid ground that adolescents moving into adulthood, that comes with being an adolescent moving into adulthood, and I felt when I read the script like it was speaking to me, and it’s such a wonderful thing for me that it feels like as a movie it speaks to a lot of people, because mentally I was in a similar space to that character, obviously it had a lot of metaphors, but it makes me feel great that it was influential and it helped you in any way.
Q. Two questions for you:
- What would be in your perfect sandwich?
- Are there any fictional characters from literature that you would like to portray?
A. Ay ay ay… Why do I have to have only ONE sandwich? Why?
I would say pastrami on egg bread with coleslaw and russian dressing.
Well, I’m a huge fan of J.D. Salinger. There’s a short story of his called “For Esme with Love and Squalor,” that I love. That relationship, I think, is an amazing literary relationship. And though it would be impossible, I would love to bring that relationship to the screen.
Q. Do you do karaoke? What’s your song?
A. I don’t. But it would definitely be hiphop. I would sing the chorus AND the verse.
Q. Hi Jake, big fan of both you and your sister’s work, and I was just curious on how much you two talk about each other’s movies. Do you comment on or critique each other to a more personal degree than other actors would?
A. Mostly me and my sister don’t talk about work at all. We’re more concerned with family and life. But… when she’s onstage right now, and because stage is really process-oriented, we oftentimes talk about ideas she can bring to each show each night, and we help and inspire each other show to show sometimes.
Q. Do you know if it was difficult nailing down the name Nightcrawler with the X-Men franchise being what it is?
A. Mmm. It surprisingly wasn’t. What’s wonderful is that we asked all the people involved in that franchise, and Marvel, and they all were incredibly excited and very supportive of us using the title, seeing as they are so different in theme and character and many things. In fact, I know that there are fans at Marvel of this movie, Nightcrawler. And I can’t wait to see their version.
Q. You and your sister both started as child actors. Did you see any difference in the way people treated you when you grew up, as opposed to the way they treated her?
A. Well, actually, I started acting professionally earlier than my sister, and I think in some ways it was a more mindful decision for her to wait. Because I think that being a professional at such a young age brings on a lot of questions that are difficult for someone who’s a kid to even begin to answer. But at the same time, it was a blessing and I recognize it as that. But I saw so many wonderful things that she did, while I was doing things that I loved. One of those things was her graduating college, particularly which I still hope to do in the future, no matter how old i am.
Q. Ever considered joining the Marvel cinematic universe?
A. I feel like everyone, everywhere, is a part of the Marvel cinematic universe. Whether they like it or not.
Q. If you were a pizza, what kind of toppings would you have?
A. Margarita. Sorry. Plain, simple, it’s the hardest to do.
Q. What’s some music you’re listening to these days? I always love recommendations from my sisters, I’d like one from you too! Also what was it like being taught to drive by Paul Newman?
A. I’ve been listening, over and over again, to this little sample that Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar did, for BEATS. For some reason it’s been a huge inspiration to me recently. It’s not a full song, but for some reason I love the melody and the beat.
Well, my father really taught me how to drive, but I did go to the racetrack and spend some time with the extraordinary Paul Newman. And it was – at risk of being redundant – extraordinary.