Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jake Gyllenhaal - Dastan the trickster

Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner appeared at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday where he chatted about his upcoming Prince of Persia graphic novel as well as Disney's in-development movie adaptation of his bestselling videogame.

Some of the more interesting things he had to say:
  • While the movie is based on the Sands of Time game, the script does not literally follow beat to beat the storyline of the game. Does not expect any potential film sequels to be based on the subsequent games Warrior Within and The Two Thrones since they took the game's storyline in a different direction. Nothing from either of those games, including characters, will be in the current movie.
  • Wants the viewer to be taken on an emotional journey and to care about the characters so that way it's not all just about fighting monsters and action set-pieces.
  • Chose the name "Dastan" for the prince because he believes its an old Persian name that means "trickster."
Well, close but not exactly. According to Wikipedia:

The Dastan is an ornate form of oral history present in Central Asia. The Dastan conveys values and traditions of generations of peoples. A Dastan is centered on one individual who protects his tribe or his people from an outside invader/enemy. This main character sets an example of how one should act; the Dastan has now become a teaching tool. (Read more at the link.)

Whereas, and I think I like these definitions better, a "trickster" is:

-- a human or animal character of a folktale who constantly tries to outsmart or outwit other characters but does not always succeed and is sometimes the loser, not the winner.
--a supernatural figure appearing in various guises and typically engaging in mischievous activities, important in the folklore and mythology of many primitive peoples and usually conceived as a culture hero.
--a character or figure common in Native American and African literature who uses his ingenuity to defeat enemies and escape difficult situations. Tricksters are most often animals, such as the spider, hare, or coyote, although they may take the form of humans as well.

In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and norms of behavior.

  • He's happy with the cast and that he trusts director Mike Newell on that because he's an actor's director and will make the movie a special experience for a game-to-film adaptation.
  • The film allows the prince to interact with other characters besides fighting them. He said that the pleasures of this type of movie is its large cast of colorful, memorable characters.
  • Wants the story to offer viewers a journey that takes them to more places than just a castle.
  • Due to secrecy, he would not reveal what powers the prince might have in the movie or discuss key plot elements.
  • Said that he at one time he considered doing PoP as an animated film but that the combination of Disney, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Newell doing a live-action movie proved too irresistible.
Oh thank you Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Newell for being irresistible.

Last December in a Q&A Mechner was asked what the differences are between writing for a video game and writing for a film? How closely does the movie storyline correspond to the games? At that time he said: "If you summarize the movie in one sentence, it sounds identical to the first Sands of Time videogame, but scene by scene it's actually completely different. It has to be, because games and film are such different mediums. On the surface they're deceptively similar -- you can watch five minutes of an action-adventure videogame and think "this could be a movie," or vice-versa -- but structurally the requirements are totally different.

Here's one example: The game kicks off with a cataclysm that basically destroys the world and turns all living creatures except for the three main characters into raging, murderous sand monsters. That was a great setup for the gameplay we had, which was "acrobatic Persian survival horror."

But if you put that setup in a film, it would be a "B" movie, and that's not the kind of movie Prince of Persia should be. Our model is classic epic, swashbuckling action-adventure movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Zorro, and Thief of Baghdad, with humor and romance and full of memorable characters. You can't get there if you turn everybody into sand monsters on page fifteen.

The goofiest photo manip of all time

Since we know how Mechner has envisioned Dastan maybe it's time to take a sneak peek into where some filming will take place.


According to several travelers to Morocco this past June, film sets were being erected at the fortified city of Aït Benhaddou along the Ouarzazate River in the High Atlas Mountains. Neither report included pics of the sets, but lucky for us some kind Flickrerers took a pop by. . .

Looks like the PoP set has been constructed just on the other side of the ksar.

Aït Benhaddou looks like something right out of the Universal/Disney/Paramount backlot. Even though many films have used this location throughout the years, there are in fact as many as ten families who still live within the ksar.

If you're planning a weekend break to Aït Benhaddou note that it is accessible from Ouarzazate and Marrakech, however, buses do not run direct to Aït Benhaddou but can drop you off at the turn off about 7km away from where you will have to get a lift.

From Marrakech it will be a full day trip and the best advice is to organize a private tour if you do not have much time.

Or one could travel to Aït Benhaddou the old fashioned way.

Photo manip courtesy of Ripten. Other photos courtesy of Flickr/Alison and Peter, Flickr/edisoncps, Flickr/SusieQMoon, Flickr/talkingdoguk

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why is Jake Gyllenhaal smirking?

Sure, he has a smile that can light up a room - it can be sexy, sultry, soft or shy. But today, we celebrate the flip side - the Jake Gyllenhaal smirk.

Because of where his other hand is...

Because he knows the effect this photoshoot will have on people all over the world.

Because he knows in about two minutes the photographer is going to drag him over to a desolate part of Brooklyn, dress him in light green and pose him in the middle of an an intersection with a can of soup in his hands.

Because he can go from schoolboy...

... to grandpa, and still be sexy

"Because it's major - and it's a promise."

"Because let's be honest: I don't need this guy!"

Because he knows we all want to see what's under that tease-through shirt.

Because underneath that top coat is nothing but Jake.

Some Prince of Persia news: Jerry Bruckheimer on Jake:

Bruckheimer shared his excitement for making a movie with Gyllenhaal, who has been on the producer's radar for a long time.

"I've always wanted to work with him," Bruckheimer said. "I've been chasing him for a while, so I finally got him, finally found something he liked."

Also, UV's fears have been realized: Jake will be using a British accent for PoP. The good news is that he has a really good coach.

Her glittering cast of former students include Gwyneth Paltrow, whom she trained for Emma and Shakespeare in Love, and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones's Diary and Miss Potter.

Paltrow won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love and Zellweger was nominated as Bridget Jones, but probably the greater tributes to their English accents were the nominations from an obviously impressed British Academy - they sounded the part.
Berkery has also coached Brad Pitt (Seven Years in Tibet), Jim Carrey (A Christmas Carol, due out next year) and Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean), and is currently working with Jake Gyllenhaal on his English accent for Prince of Persia.

(Photos courtesy of IHJ. And thanks to suvee, for suggesting the post and providing samples!)

Friday, July 18, 2008


After that dark January day, finally - The Dark Knight.

If you want to talk about your reaction to TDK or read other people's reviews and comments, FL made a Joker/TDK post on the Jake Spoiler blog. Please feel free to talk about it spoiler-free here, as well.

Heath Ledger died too young, leaving behind performances as faceted, brilliant and few as a handful of diamonds. His final gem is no less radiant for being pitch black.

(Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. and WENN; quote from the Houston Chronicle.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


ETA: IHJ got the full set of the Luxembourg Garden pictures. Some of these are priceless. Thanks, Stephanie!

Le Scruff!

"How you doin?"

"Is that a hand in my pocket or is she just happy to see me?"

Not much happening on the Paris front today. It seems as if the idyll is indeed over, and Jake Gyllenhaal has left the City of Light for the Red City. But there were some fun shots of Jake that we didn't get to use in the avalanche of pictures, so the travelogue rolls on.

Some captions, for your amusement, j'espere.

"I didn't mean to order the frog's legs! Please, no!"

"Oh, that's how you say 'Don't touch the toad!' en français!"

"I'm not scared!"

Seriously, what is going on in those photos? At first, Jake seems very worried, but then he's downright jaunty! (One can only use 'jaunty' if there's a hat involved.)

"Hmm - I wonder if Sass would like a present from Harry's?"

"Damn, what is her e-mail address again?"

"Merde! This map is too small. I'll never find Avenue Montaigne!"

"That 'Kick me!' trick is always funny!"

"Never fails!" ***

"Just act innocent - they'll never know it was you."

"I crack myself up."

Okay, I was running out of ideas by the end there. But Jake is so expressive, and these Paris pictures so much fun, I couldn't resist.

Maybe the end of the Paris series?

*** The real caption for this should be, "Can I be any more beautiful?!" Look at that smile. It's such a shame Jake is so unhappy these days, isn't it?!

(Photos courtesy of IHJ and flickr.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vive la France!

After dinner at Allard, a famous Paris bistro that opened in 1931, Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon and Reese's daughter celebrated the French National holiday, Bastille Day, by joining les masses for fireworks near the Eiffel Tower.

Happy Bastille Day, everyone :)

ETA: Video from X17, chronicling Jake and Reese's Paris vacation. Nothing of the kids, happily.

ETA2: Photo from Bastille Day, Paris, 2008:

(Photos courtesy of IHJ, Bauer Griffin and flickr/rezendi and flickr/evad67.)