Thursday, October 23, 2014
Can we talk about your face?
Nightcrawler gets the Buzzfeed treatment:
In keeping with the theme, some great outtakes from the Variety cover shoot, interspersed with snippets from some new interviews:
We’ve even chatted about the most polite subject on Earth: the British weather, in particular our reaction to sunshine. He notes our inability to leave an inch of grass uncovered by human flesh; I explain our distrust of good weather and subsequent reluctance to leave umbrellas at home.
No, Gyllenhaal is lovely. It’s just that he just gives an air of not quite being 100 per cent present. As if, while engaging with you, he’s also engaging with dozens of other plans, appointments and theories. Perhaps it’s those dreamy eyes, perhaps it’s his penchant for complex characters – or perhaps it’s what he’s just said. The 33-year-old is in Toronto (experiencing its own heatwave), at the film festival, promoting his latest project Nightcrawler. The film is phenomenally good; Gyllenhaal is phenomenally good. I’m talking career-best performance. I’d just put that notion to him.
“I’ve heard that, but I say, ‘That’s cool, I’m on to the next film,’” the actor had replied. “I’m about to make a movie [Demolition] with Jean-Marc Vallée, and that’s my focus. When I was here last year, doing interviews for other films, I was memorising my lines for Nightcrawler. I had a piece of paper in my pocket and tried to memorise soliloquies between interviews – that’s where my head is.”
For an interviewer, it’s not quite like your partner telling you they think of someone else during sex, but you do feel the need to up your game. And – cue lazy link – talking of upping games, Gyllenhaal has shoved his into orbit with this film. I said it’s a career best, but it could be career-defining. I’ll stick my neck out and say that for his Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler, read Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. Yeah, that good.
Like Bickle, Bloom is the archetypal movie ‘Triple-L’ – loner, loser, lunatic – and just as much a product of his time. Where Bickle was inspired by the cesspit that was Seventies New York, Bloom is the product of consumer capitalism and the cult of the individual. Bickle was angry, Bloom is calculating. Making his living from petty crime, he has big dreams. He learns from online self-help courses and quotes them like scripture. He’s a go-getter, but what he’s going to get is as deep as Clingfilm. “He’s a product of what we’ve created,” says Gyllenhaal, “a generation of people desperate for jobs who have been told that it’s success at any cost. And that success really is monetary or fame, convention would say. So Lou is looking for that.”
I ask if he’d ever return there, or if he’s happier on the less sunny side of the street. The impression I get is that this man, who doesn’t stay still, is probably more interested in moving forward. “The answer is just as unknown to me as it is to you,” he says. “I can’t say where I will go or what will inspire me. I was a different person then. Yesterday, three people came up to me at this party and said, ‘I want you to know I love October Sky,’ a movie I made when I was 17 years old. I love that film, but I’m no longer the person that was in that movie. I’m a different incarnation of that person.
“I oddly don’t consider the roles I play to be dark – I feel like there’s an honesty to them. They’re dealing in dark worlds, but many of them have had good moral compasses – with the exception of one. Dark worlds feel more real to me than everything being bright, shiny and happy. It’s a sunny day, but we’re still carrying an umbrella.”
OK, so maybe he was paying attention.
One of the good things she was just saying about you is that you would make a great director. Do you have any ambitions do to that, at some point?
JAKE GYLLENHAAL : Well, my father’s a director. My mother’s a director, too. I know from a certain amount of experience, from watching a lot of people do it, who are extraordinary at it, because I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who are really good at it, that it would be presumptuous of me to say that I would be good at it. At a time when I am looking to be presumptuous, then maybe, yeah. I don’t know if that’s now. But I would like to try my hand at it, at some time.
Can you talk a little bit about working with Rene? As a person, and as an actress, and as your partner in this? And her touching your knee?
JAKE GYLLENHAAL : Oh yeah, she did do that in one scene. Well, in the restaurant scene, that’s actually a perfect example. Her husband, Dan, gave her very little to survive with in that scene. I would say that I was given, Lou was given a figurative 50 calibre machine gun, with his words, and she’s given a spoon. So I walked into that scene, expecting to just win, just because I’d been given all those words. And eventually he does win that scene. But Renee came in, and made it a struggle for me, in that, even with close to nothing to defend with, she was like a fierce competitor. The choices that she was making, moment to moment, even when she touched my leg, she must have said that to you, that was a choice she was doing, under the table to me, that no one would see, to mess with me. Because she knew that she needed to try and win something. As actor to actor. And I love it! There’s nothing I love more than another actor who is going to sideswipe me, sweep my leg, because I mean, it’s fun! She does it in so much fun, so much play, it’s not like dangerous. It’s so playful. When we rehearsed, with her and Dan; they’re so loving, the two of them, just so positive and loving. I would come and rehearse and do a speech with her, a scene, and she’d be like, “Oh my God, you’re just so great!” And then I’d be like, “Can we just do the scene?” And she’d be like, “Nope, I mean, Danny, isn’t he just so wonderful?” I’d just be like, and he would go, “I know, I told you! I told you!” Guys, we’re doing a scene! It was like that with them, and particularly with her. She’s been very, she’s separated herself from the whole Hollywood thing, as much as she can, and she’s really creative, and very sensitive, and very loving and open. When you think about her in ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ and stuff, there’s a real intimidation factor about her beauty, and her charisma and stuff, but I think, deep down inside, she just likes to garden, and chill out and stuff. I love that side of her, in the scene, because it’s that side of her, seeing the real human side of her, that makes her so fearless in that scene. So it was great fun to work with her.
Can you talk about the look on your face, because it looks like…? Is it some effort on the make-up person, or is it just the camera?
JAKE GYLLENHAAL : Can we talk about your face? [Laughs] Who did that?
Jake Gyllenhaal is used to exhaustion. During his research for the LAPD drama End of Watch, he spent five months patrolling the streets with real-life police officers, on shifts that ended at 7 a.m. It was good preparation for his new movie, Nightcrawler, a blistering portrait of a morally corrupt crime-scene videographer who works the literal graveyard shift. Writer-director Dan Gilroy would start filming at dusk and wrap after sunrise, a sight Gyllenhaal now knows well. The 33-year-old actor would nap for four hours and then do it all again.
"There wasn't a lot of sleeping going on," Gyllenhaal says. "Surprisingly, I had a lot of energy. L.A. is vibrating at night in a way that you'd never really know. I was not looking forward for the sun to rise, which is a strange headspace to be in. The sun would rise, and I would get sad."
Insomnia fits him. His Nightcrawler character, Lou Bloom, looks as if he hasn't slept in years. He's up all night listening to police scanners and speeding to film car crashes, murders, and fires to sell to ruthless TV news producer Nina (Rene Russo). During the day he plots how to become the owner of the station.
"Every movie is political," Gyllenhaal says. Like Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, Nightcrawler attacks local news for serving up a straight diet of fluff and fear. Making things worse, in the last decade, the Web has increasingly blurred the line between important and unimportant news. "Information is going to be filtered," Gyllenhaal says. "Even a cup to a string to another cup, you don't get a clear sound."
Does defending him mean Gyllenhaal is more forgiving of the paparazzi at TMZ who, like Lou, are just doing their jobs? Hell, no, he argues. "What Lou does is dealing with life and death, so I think it's in no way comparable." Besides, he adds, "How many people in the world are doing things not for the money?"
Well, Gyllenhaal himself. After a flirtation with being a blockbuster heartthrob in Prince of Persia, he's dedicated himself to dark, smart, serious films with a monomania that Lou would appreciate. "There's a Lou in all of us," he laughs. "I don't know if that disturbs you!"
Good interview with Jake and Rene: