Gyllenhaal shot his own scenes with a handheld camera every day for the first person point-of-view for the film. “We went on ride-alongs for five months, two to three times a week with the LAPD and sheriff’s department and Inglewood PD,” the actor told Moviefone.
“We would work with them from about 4 p.m. to about four or five in the morning. Then we did tactical training about two or three times a week with live ammunition and training exercises, then fight training almost every morning with [director] Dave Ayer’s best friend, who has a dojo, getting the crap beat out of us by 14 to 20-year-old kids,” he said. “That coupled with rehearsing on our time off and just spending time with [costar] Mike [Pena] out of work and getting to know each other.”
Gyllenhaal is proud of the time they spent preparing for the film. “When I hear an actor say they went on a ride-along to do research for a part, it probably means that they went two or three times. Michael and I went over 40, maybe 50 times. We changed up partners. We kept circling around and coming back to different ones, four or five sets over that period of time. Two guys from that experience are some of my closest friends now. This is unlike anything that any actor I’ve heard in preparation to play a role like that has done. But I don’t know, I could be wrong.”
The actor, despite his success, still chooses his projects carefully. “I am interested in anything that has a heart to it,” he said. “To me, it’s about variation always. That’s what turns me on. I don’t know if I am looking for anything specific, I am looking to work with great artists—people who are committed and disciplined and ready to put in hard work, because that’s what I am ready to do. Inevitably, after you do one kind of movie, everybody starts thinking you should play this kind of role, the role you played in the last one. For such a creative environment, there’s not a whole lot of creativity in that.”
“I don’t know if the craft is what’s important to the business, you know [laughs]? I think there are other elements. I just think it’s about the community and the family you make when you make the movie, and the collaboration and being able to support each other and cheer each other on and have no ego about it. And sometimes that’s rare to find.”
End of Watch comes out Friday, September 21.