Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best looking men in Hollywood. Dressed to the nines on the job. In private he could not care less for fashion. That’s why we talked with him about less important issues: money, for example.
Born into a family of movie makers, first acting job at 11: Jake Gyllenhaal is only 32 but his 25th movie, called “Prisoners”, is about to be released. Of course we could talk about that. But we won’t (or just as much as courtesy dictates). We want to get to know better the man behind the roles. For example, how does he manage to look so damn cool all the time?
Jake Gyllenhaal demonstrates how little a beautiful man has to work on looking really hot on this muggy summer’s day in a hotel in New York. He put on a washed-out dark blue T-shirt, worn jeans and an old pair of Clarks. Yet the outfit looks custom-made, the clothes fitting like a glove. T-shirt, jeans and Clarks – that’s how Gyllenhaal usually leaves his apartment in summer.
Gyllenhaal’s list of favorites on Stylebistro.com – a website analyzing the favorite clothes of celebrities based on paparazzi pictures – is correspondingly short. Often he wears checkered button down shirts with Aviator glasses; in winter it’s a thick wool scarf with a tweed sports jacket. He’s seen in suits or smockings only when at an Oscar party or movie premieres.
When you try to seriously research the archives as to what Gyllenhaal wears, you will find very little on that, but instead you find all the more on the women who supposedly played vital roles in his life in the last 10 to 12 years: Reese Witherspoon, Anne Hathaway, Kirsten Dunst, Taylor Swift. In March rumor had it that he was dating model Emily DiDonato. In July the tabloids reported that he switched in favor of swimsuit girl Alyssa Miller.
Gyllenhaal, 32, is taller than he looks in his movies. Maybe because up until recently he played boys on the brink of adulthood. Chaps who were almost always younger and more naïve then Gyllenhaal himself: a cowboy, who went camping with a buddy (Brokeback Mountain); a prince with an oversized sword (Prince of Persia); a Viagra salesman (Love and Other Drugs).
Only in the last few years Gyllenhaal plays characters where he acts a grown man. The story of how he rode patrol with real police officers in South Central Los Angeles for months, experienced shootings and saw a man bleed to death in order to prepare for “End of Watch” is one he told a lot ever since. So let’s talk about something else first. We gonna give fashion a try.
Mister Gyllenhaal – Gyllenhaal, what kind of a name is that anyway?
My dad descends from the Swedish Gyllenhaal family, a noble lineage that my ancestor Nils Gunnarsson Haal established in the 17th century and which has been very influential in Sweden for a long time. My great-grandfather emigrated to the USA. But I see myself as a Jew since my mother is a Russian-Jewish New Yorker.
GQ Style is all about fashion. How much time do you spend in the morning to pick out your clothes?
Not much. Let’s say: a minute.
How important are well-toned arms when one wears T-shirts and short sleeved button-down shirts?
I love martial arts – karate, capoeira, kick boxing, kung fu. That’s why I spend a lot of times in the gym and I have firm arms. But those arms are in no way a fashion statement.
Have you been to a fashion show before?
No, I haven’t.
Do you have an assistant when it comes to fashion?
Or a favorite designer?
What is the most important accessory for a man?
The only thing that is important for a man: he has to be in accordance with what he does. Everything else will come on its own
Are you in accordance with your career?
Can you sum up your latest movie “Prisoners” in one sentence?
Two kids disappear and my character, Detective Loki, has to find them. But the dad is discontent with Loki’s work and the case turns into a downward spiral of hate and violence. The subject of the movie is the absurdity of revenge.
Those were three sentences.
Hollywood is making less and less sophisticated movies every year. And the movies that are being made are mainly explosions and CGI. Is it still fun to be a Hollywood star, Mr. Gyllenhaal?
You are right, the rivalry around the interesting roles gets more aggressive. That’s why we were able to win Hugh Jackman for a super low budget project like “Prisoners” even though he could ask for 20 Million for any other movie. Melissa Leo, Paul Dano and Maria Bello were cast as well. That’s what’s increasingly important for me: I want to work with a really good team and have fun.
Do you see yourself as a team player?
In any case I got very agitated when I sensed being labeled as a “celebrity”. I don’t want to get certain roles in expensive movies because I’m well known. What I am really interested in, is the craft of being an actor. That means understanding everybody else’s craft on set as well: cinematographers, make-up artists, costume designers. I have been extremely lucky, but right now I just want to be part of a functioning group. In short: yes, the team is the key.
Why is it so difficult to make a good movie?
I have been doing this for 20 years now and I have absolutely no idea. Sometimes you think everything is perfect – and then you are disappointed by the finished product. With me it usually starts with a feeling, an energy I sense when I read the script.
How many scripts do you read on a daily basis?
At least two.
How many of them are interesting?
I find all of them interesting. Even those that I would never play in. My mother writes scripts, my dad is a director and I know how much time and effort are in each and every script. I value the ideas, the conflicts, the craft of the writer.
What does a script need to have in order for you to excite you and you agree to do it?
I couldn’t tell you. It has a lot to do with timing. And the way that you get in touch with each other. Denis Villenauve, the director of ”Prisoners” gave me his script and wanted to talk about it. I liked that he asked for my ideas. Doesn’t happen too often.
You are also in Villeneuve’s next movie “Enemy”. A trust issue?
Yes, you need to trust each other. Every project is a dangerous beast for every actor as we have no influence on how the team will work and what the product will look like in the end.
There is this story that you asked to meet the producers of “End of Watch” after you read the script – even though they never considered offering you the role. So you do have to fight for the best parts.
Of course. Everybody wants these rare opportunities that really challenge an actor. It’s a tough competition. No one in Hollywood can expect his dream parts to come flying to him.
What was the dumbest movie you ever got offered?
That’s a hard one to answer because there are a lot of dumb ideas out there. And also I don’t want to insult anyone.
Your job has an economical side to it as well: how in demand an actor is, seems to depend on how well his last movie did. How do you cope with the fact that you seem to have a price tag around your neck that can never read “Sale”?
I don’t think about it or I would go crazy.
Are you looking nervously at the viewing figures on opening weekend?
Yes. Although it’s rather pointless since I can’t influence it. Every actor has to understand that the movie business is about money. Someone gave you money to make a movie and he will want the money back at one point – with considerable interest. If you can’t accept that Hollywood is not the right place for you.
A painful finding?
No. You have to distinguish between the requirements of a job – and how you exercise it. While I work I have never thought I need to make this or that decision so people will go to the theater later on. I can only try to give my bet. My currency is not money, it’s creativity. Money should be taken care of by the people whom money is important for.
Does money not interest you at all?
Let’s say it’s none of my passions to buy things, to own them – I don’t even think about that.
Interview taken from GQ Style (Germany), Fall / Winter 2013 – Scans of the original article here.
Translated by sashalovespenporn