Jake Gyllenhaal on His Character in ‘Nightcrawler’ and Learning New Skills for His Roles

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

One of the most talked about films of the Toronto International Film Festival this year is Nightcrawler, a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a shifty crime reporter. It marks a transformation for Gyllenhaal, both career-wise and physically. In a lengthy interview with Variety, Gyllenhaal spoke about his intense commitment to the role, including why he lost weight to portray the character and how his mindset ultimately led to him suffering an on-set injury.

What drew Gyllenhaal most to Nightcrawler was the script by writer/director Dan Gilroy. He explains, “I would always be sad when we wrapped a scene, because I’d think, ‘That’s the last time I’m ever going to say the line, and it’s so good. It deserves to be said again.'” Later, he adds that it was important for him to fully understand his character’s mindset to deliver the dialogue, saying, “But for me, I learn a skill for what you don’t see onscreen. A line is a line is a line. But a line is something else when underneath it, there’s the experience of the line.”

One of the most notable things about the films is that Gyllenhall dropped thirty pounds to play his gaunt character. Gyllenhall describes how he transformed his body, pointing out that it also helped him get into character. He says, “I would try to eat as few calories as possible. I knew if I was hungry that I was in the right spot. Physically, it showed itself, but chemically and mentally, I think it was even a more fascinating journey. It became a struggle for me.” That hunger would end up helping him personify the character in an animalistic way. He describes his character by saying, “There was a general sense that he was a coyote. I just wanted to live that way.”

Gyllenhaal actually might have taken the character too far when he had to be taken to the hospital after punching a mirror in the film to get stitches in his hand (the action was unscripted). He looks at the scar that remains on his hand as a sign of his devotion to the character. He explains, “As an actor, you’re constantly true to your feelings and the feelings of a character. The most interesting moments are always the most unexpected. I’m not saying it’s a positive thing to get hurt and have to get stitches in your hand. But to me, the scar is about a certain type of commitment.”

One wonders why an actor who only a few years ago was doing blockbusters like The Day After Tomorrow and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is now devoting himself to indie projects in such a physical way. The thirty-three year old Gyllenhaal says that after he turned thirty he decided to turn his attention to more serious roles. He points out, “You wake up and you say, ‘I know who I am. Why am I not able to communicate through my art?’ I just realized I was sitting in the wrong place.”

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/alex-sharp-curious-incident-of-the-dog.jpg
Alex Sharp Talks About His Broadway Debut in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ (video)
Alex Sharp went from working in a call-center and renovating houses to going to Julliard. And now, he’s starring in one of the most talked about shows of the season, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Check out this great, inspiring video!
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Its-only-a-play.jpg
Watch a Scene From Terrance McNally’s, ‘It’s Only a Play’, Featuring Nathan Lane and Micah Stock
Here’s a quick scene from Terrance McNally‘s It’s Only a Play, currently on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theater. In this scene, Nathan Lane and Micah Stock meet for the first time. The show, about the opening night of a new play, also stars Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, Rupert Grint and Megan Mullally.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/birdman-director-alejandro-g-ina.jpg
‘Birdman’ Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu Narrates a Scene from the Film Featuring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu narrates a scene from Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance that features stars Michael Keaton and Edward Norton. The film is wonderful and if it’s playing in your town, definitely check it out!
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/the-cast-of-mad-men-on-the-final.jpg
The Cast of ‘Mad Men’ on the Final Season and More
Though the AMC television series Mad Men might not carry the same cultural weight that it did a few years ago (splitting your final season over two years might do that to you), the second half of the show’s final season is expected to be full of powerful performances from its ensemble cast. With the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/behind-the-scenes-of-a-sex-scene.jpg
Behind the Scenes of a Sex Scene with Patrick Wilson, Brooklyn Decker and Director Joe Carnahan
Director Joe Carnahan is giving viewers an inside look at what it is like to film a big screen Hollywood sex scene, as confirmed by Gawker. Carnahan released a brief video clip taken from the set of his latest film Stretch starring supermodel and actress Brooklyn Decker and Patrick Wilson. The video showcases the two […]