Interview By: Steve Moreau
Jake Gyllenhaal has quietly been storming the cinemas this fall season to become Hollywood’s new sensitive leading man. He’s got the swagger of Jimmy Stewart, and the body of Adonis, but don’t let these baby blue eyes fool you. He has three of the most high profile dramas this holiday season (Proof,Jarhead and Brokeback Mountain), and he’s just about gone to hell and back for his newest Gulf War film Jarhead directed by the exquisite Sam Mendes (American Beauty). His quiet demeanor and brooding good looks would definitely make women swoon, but it’s really his charming personality that gets everyone hot and bothered (and no less whispering Oscar is in his future). He talks to The Cinema Source about the trials and tribulations of making a war movie, how he got into shape, and just what he really thinks of his naked… ambitions.
Jarhead is based on a book by Tony Swofford about a guy who enters the marines with little hope or ambition about the process and realizes that he actually really loves it. The soldiers are trained with killing on their minds and fingers on the triggers. Think Full Metal Jacket, but in Desert Storm. In the process, Swofford really figures out marines are a no longer needed tool of the military. Technology has taken over and the skills of a sniper seem outdated when you could just bomb a building. The film costars Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper.
In the film Gyllenhaal plays the main character of the Swofford in the book. He explained that the real Swofford wasn’t a part of the process, except for being the author of the novel. “Tony didn’t come to set once, and he came to like two rehearsals, I didn’t see him until like a month ago when we did a photo shoot together.” Although, this didn’t exactly ease
No less, Swoff gave his blessing overall based on the people involved and what their intent in making the film was. “[Tony] said the people who were making the film he really respected, and I think getting involved with it would have been too much for him really. He let the creative thing happen with the people making the movie. The reason why Tony is special is this isn’t the only book he is gonna write, and it’s not the only magnificent book he is gonna write. He recognizes the process of everyone involved, and they recognize his.” Although at the end of the day, this is still his book and his ideas on the Gulf War. “The movie shows realities that we have been told about, but we had never had an emotional connection to characters involved in it. This is Tony Swofford, and this is his book, and these are his experiences.”
Although the author was nothing compared to Mendes, who decided that it was best to separate the film from the novel in the filming of Jarhead. “I made a very conscious decision not to be in contact with [Tony] during it. Sam said during the read through before the rehearsal process, ‘This is the time you put down the book now and never refer to it again. I don’t want people coming up to me and being like oh this is what happened in the book.’
“I have worked with 2 really extraordinary filmmakers (Ang Lee on Mountain and Mendes). Both of them made sets that were intimate on their own and we didn’t know if they were gonna succeed or not. If they were gonna be good movies or not, but it’s a great feeling.”
Gyllenhaal realized fast that for most war films there is so much physical and mental training involved. War films are often easy to research because you can communicate with those who have actually experienced it. Spielberg had his cast on Saving Private Ryan go through a real military boot camp to understand what it was like to be an actual soldier. Gyllenhaal was already in military mode when he signed up for the picture. He circuited trained by running, swimming and lifting weights to prepare. “Physically I worked out for months before getting into that mind set and thinking about boot camp. We would run drills. I wanted to be physically there and ready.”
Gyllenhaal learned a lot in the process of making a film with this much emotional depth and truth. “I don’t think there is one person who isn’t antiwar. A film of any kind can be interpreted how you want it. The message is more about the men fighting these wars are separate from the administration that makes those choices. It became
It’s no secret that when you decide to go into a profession like acting, there are some consequences with such a glamorous job. For instance, your private life is never really private. If you have US Weekly or In Touch having paparazzi follow you around, it can get a bit stressful. For the boring, or so he claims, Gyllenhaal honesty is the best policy. “There are things I like to keep to myself, and there are things I don’t mind sharing with people. I don’t mind sharing the reality of this movie because it changed my life. We bickered just as much as we celebrated. There isn’t anything to hide. There are things that just aren’t that interesting to people that I like to keep to myself.” His clothes are another thing. We are going to be seeing a whole lot more nakedness from the nubile actor, especially in his new gay cowboy love story Brokeback Mountain co-starring Heath Ledger. “All the training paid off and I feel confident in my body and having no clothes on. Think of that more figurative than literally.” Although don’t get too excited. Rumor has it that in a nude cliff diving scene from Brokeback, Ledger did the full monty, while Gyllenhaal had a body double come in.
Next on the horizon is a new David Fincher thriller called Zodiac. The script is based on the infamous unsolved Zodiac serial killer case from San Francisco. The film co-stars Mark Ruffalo and has been shooting over the past fall. The movie has added fans interest because instead of just shooting somewhere in Los Angeles, Fincher is actually recreating and filming the real places this film is supposed to be based on. “What’s great about those stories is the structure’s already there. You think ‘How could people have walked by [past crime scenes] not knowing
Quite a far ways away from his days as “Bubble Boy“, Gyllenhaal is all grown up now. Fame hasn’t quite changed the shy and endearing actor. He has quite the lineup of films being released to a theater near you and he’s trying his best not let it get to his head. Don’t forget, this is the same actor was once slightly chubby in the film City Slickers. Although in Jarhead, all those things fall to the waist side when you see Gyllenhaal turn in one of his bravest performances and you understand what our military are actually fighting overseas for.