Hollywood Confidential

Published: Thursday October 16, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday October 16, 2014 MYT 9:37:30 AM

For Jake Gyllenhaal, family is everything

Cross country: Jake Gyllenhaal has moved to New York City to ready himself for his Broadway debut opposite Ruth Wilson in Constellations which opens in December. — AFP

Cross country: Jake Gyllenhaal has moved to New York City to ready himself for his Broadway debut opposite Ruth Wilson in Constellations which opens in December. — AFP

Jake Gyllenhaal has a penchant for darker roles.

ONCE carefree and appealingly self-deprecating, Jake Gyllenhaal is surprisingly sombre at his press conference for Nightcrawler in which he plays a totally unsympathetic character.

It’s been almost 20 years since I first interviewed him.

He was then the hot new face destined for stardom, carrying Roland Emmerich’s blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow.

He had proven his acting chops starring opposite older actresses Catherine Keener and Jennifer Aniston, and at the time was being considered as a replacement for Tobey Maguire when he was demanding more money for playing Spiderman 2; not withstanding the fact that Gyllenhaal was living with Kirsten Dunst, who went on to play Mary Jane in all three Spiderman movies opposite Maguire, of course.

But a greater opportunity lay ahead for Gyllenhaal: Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s groundbreaking gay romance for which both he and Heath Ledger would be nominated for Academy Awards.

After that he was Gwyneth Paltrow’s love interest in Proof, and then the go-to guy for A-list directors like Sam Mendes, David Fincher and Jim Sheridan.

A chance for superstardom seemed within his grasp when Jerry Bruckheimer cast him in the blockbuster Prince Of Persia, but when that fizzled, he turned to more challenging and darker roles in End Of Watch, Enemy, and now Nightcrawler in which he plays a freelance photo journalist who stalks crime scenes and will stop at nothing to get his story.

Not only has he changed his professional outlook – he is no longer the freewheeling swinger that he once was (among his many conquests: Taylor Swift, Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon and Olivia Wilde) – his family life, too, has changed.

The divorce of his parents, director Stephen Gyllenhaal and writer Naomi Foner in 2009, was a blow to him, but not unexpected.

After his father remarried and his mother moved to New York to be near his sister Maggie (Gyllenhaal) and her children, he too made that move putting his US$3.5mil (RM11.4mil) Hollywood Hills home on the market and readying himself for his Broadway debut opposite Ruth Wilson in Constellations which opens in December.

Although close to his mother, over the years they’ve had their petty disagreements

As he once jokingly told me, with his mother in the room: “I don’t listen to my mother very well. And my father likes to talk a lot. I do listen to my sister.” But he does respect her traditions.

“My family’s really intense. When you sit at a dinner table with us, it’s kinda hard to get away from talking about current events and movies.”

At the time I asked him if it bothered him that he was more successful than his parents?

“At first it was hard to contemplate, but my family is very supportive of each other. It was awkward at first, but now it’s just great. Our success helps each other. We’ve all discussed it. It’s something we deal with. What’s most important is that we all get along, and we like spending time with each other.”

And then almost as an afterthought he alluded to his parents’ contentious marriage.

“I think all of us at one time or another have been though a lot, as every family has. When both my parents decided to kind of grow up and get along, that to me was a really courageous move, something different than I was used to.”

Unfortunately it didn’t last.

But Gyllenhaal is reconciled.

“My family is so strong right now, In a way, that’s given me the strength to say, ‘Trust yourself’.”

Which means making movies that challenge him.

In Toronto, Canada, meeting with the Hollywood Foreign press, he is peak physical shape and still vibrantly handsome.

Does your financial security allow you the luxury of choosing projects?

Money was never a factor with the last couple of movies that I have done. We made this movie for US$6.5mil (RM21mil). I feel very differently about the work I’m now doing. My perspective on what movies are to me has changed. I truly believe art is an extraordinarily important thing, and when you are a part of it, when you have something that inspires you, you become very hungry. Working with someone who has a vision, like Dan (Gilroy the writer and director of Nightcrawler), I want to venture into a world with him, and we did, and it was disturbing and extraordinary.

In real life are you as controlling as the character you play? Do you put people in a box?

Like a literal box? Only my dog has to go into a crate. When I love and care for someone, I want them to be whoever they want to be.

With people in my life, in my relationships, I don’t think you can control anyone.

Lou Bloom (the character he plays) has control over people because he knows things about them that he can use against them. I don’t have that. That would make me sick to my stomach. I look for honesty, loyalty, understanding and patience.

Talk about your weight loss (he dropped 10kg for the role). What food did you miss the most, and what was the first thing you ate after shooting the movie?

For me, it was really about feeling the sensation of not satiating myself, not feeling like if I wanted something, I could get it, which made me want something more.

And that mentality sparked a lot of feelings and emotions inside me; it influenced every single scene I was in, every interaction I had with every character.

We shot mostly at night, so I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep, and I wasn’t eating a lot.

I was with a friend – it was on a weekend – I was in my car driving past Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle, and I remember saying, “Hey, I would love that”. So, my friend sent me Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles on the last day of shooting.

> Philip Berk, eight times President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hobnobs with celebrities to report exclusively from Los Angeles. Nightcrawler opens in cinemas nationwide on Oct 30.

Tags / Keywords: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler, Movies, Hollywood, Actor, Brokeback Mountain, Oscar, Heath Ledger

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Cross country: Jake Gyllenhaal has put his Hollywood Hills home on the market. He has moved to New York City to ready himself for his Broadway debut opposite Ruth Wilson in Constellations which opens in December. - AFP

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