Jake Gyllenhaal on Acting: “I take it very seriously, let’s just say that. I do also recognize that it is absurd”

Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw

“My work expresses best what I’m trying to explore, and you can see from the work I’ve done lately the areas where I’m searching.” – Jake Gyllenhaal


Jake Gyllenhaal may have been snuffed at this year’s Oscars, but his dedication to the craft of acting is alone worthy of an award.

Gyllenhaal goes from a rail thin narcissistic journalist in Nightcrawler to the buffed out raging boxer in Southpaw. At the Cannes Festival, the film’s distributor Harvey Weinstein said about Gyllenhaal’s performance, “This transformation is amazing.”

For Southpaw, Gyllenhaal spent months training and learning how to box, but when the cameras were rolling he still felt the pressure to perform, “Even when you’re only filming a fight, even when it’s a movie, in the ring you feel totally naked…It’s a strange thing, 700 extras watching.”

He goes even further to explain what it felt like under the microscope, “The thing was, whenever I took a real hit, my first thought was always: ‘Someone better have got a good fucking angle on that.’ That’s an actor.” He clarifies his feelings on the whole boxing matter, “It may have all been a bit reckless.”

When asked about his selection of physically transformative roles, Gyllenhaal explains what intrigues him most, “Does the arrow draw forth the target or vice versa? Well, I’ve realized I’m fascinated with what is to be a man. And as a man, physicality is important. I’ve gone on searches…I mean pushing myself to the limit. With Nightcrawler, I was searching for a physical, chemical state that would come from depriving myself. I was interested in what that would bring out. It wasn’t about losing weight. It was about what happens with a certain kind of deprivation.”

The director of Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy noticed Gyllenhaal’s unyielding dedication to his characters, “He pushes himself harder than I or any director could ever push. He puts more of himself into his characters than any other actor I’ve heard of.”

Though Gyllenhaal is as committed to the craft as they come, he is not unaware of what his job entails, “Believe me, I take acting seriously, more seriously than…” After a brief switching of gears “I take it very seriously, let’s just say that. I do also recognize that it is absurd.”

When asked about the types of roles he chooses to take on, Gyllenhaal says “My work expresses best what I’m trying to explore, and you can see from the work I’ve done lately the areas where I’m searching.”

After rap mogul Eminem dropped out of the film, Gyllenhaal was drawn to Southpaw because, “I’m fascinated by my own anger.” He clarifies the kind of anger he means, “I would aspire to be someone who is only ever angry at injustice. But frankly, I’m also angry in traffic. And I seriously wonder why.” Gyllenhaal sums up his thoughts on the subject with “…I have anger. Not all the time. And I’m very curious about it. Not because I go: ‘Ooh, what’s angry like?’ It’s something I experience and want to understand.”

When asked if the likes of tabloids and paparazzi edge him on, he says, “No, I am no longer curious about that stuff. And it doesn’t make me angry. What does make me angry is how easy it is to destroy rather than create…”

As a creative artist and actor, Gyllenhaal appears primed and ready to take on anything, with or without Oscars lining his mantle; so then what does he deem a success? “At this point, I’m ecstatic if I’m in a movie that just works, even a little bit. Movies are so hard, just that is miraculous.”

Via The Guardian

Written by Zachary Layner

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