In the movie Jake plays Tommy Cahill, an ex-convict who falls for his soldier brother‘s wife after he goes missing in Afghanistan. Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman co-star in the movie. Here the famously private Mr Gyllenhaal talks about becoming one of Hollywoods most bankable names, describes how his big sister Maggie always makes sure he knows who‘s boss, and hints that he just wants to get back to the people he loves.

JG: “[Waving his hands around] Hi! I hope you don’t mind but I get really animated!”

Q: Not at all, go for it. And what was with your look?

JG: “You mean in the movie, or in reality? Sorry, I have no concept of the difference between movies and reality!”

Q: Well, have you seen the movie?

JG: “Yes, Twilight. God, I loved that movie! (Laughs) No, I was just saying that, because it’s the thing of the moment! Yeah, I’m up on stuff. But what did you want to know?”

Q: What attracted you to Brothers?

JG: “The director Jim Sheridan attracted me. He’s made some of the most extraordinary movies, and gotten the most extraordinary performance out of actors – more than many of the directors working today. And his inherent trust in me, as an actor – six weeks to work with someone as extraordinary as him is like a godsend.”

Q: So how did the theme of this film resonate with you?

JG: “Which one? Sleeping with your brother’s wife?!”

Q: The brother thing.

JG: “Wow…Well, I don’t have a brother. Thank god! I do have a brother-in-law now, But that would be weird, because…anyway!  Themes…I think that we all have a great ability to move towards our impulses. Anger, or violence. And I’ll just speak for myself, I think inherently as a man, there are things that come up about what you want  to do, and what you should do. But then to me, this movie is about forgiveness, ultimately. And about somebody who does something unbelievable.  You know, to get back to the thing that they love. And to me, I just feel that’s what life is all about. If you have something that you love and you care for, then I would hope that anyone would do anything to get back to that. No matter what. And the complications of what has to be done are unfathomable. Like it won’t compute in any logical sense, of even storytelling. Because Tobey’s character is put in a position where there is no right choice.”

Q: Do you feel that working with such talents as Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire just helps to make you even better?

JG: “Oh, definitely! Not only for the fact that they are incredible actors but also, because we all already knew each other, it meant we didn’t bring anything new or fake to it. They will call you out on it if you do, if you have a real relationship with someone in real life. I have worked with my sister in movies before and I can’t pull anything with her. She knows when I’m faking and when I’m not.”

Q: Has Maggie called you out before?

JG: “(Laughs) That is all my sister does! That is her primary job in my life.”

Q: What do you feel about the war theme of Brothers and that this country is sending more soldiers to Afghanistan, even as we speak?

JG: “Well do you want to talk about the movie, or do you want to talk about current politics? Because I hate hearing actors talk about politics! But if you want to hear me talk about politics, then we can have that discussion.”

Q: Yes, I’d like to know how you feel.

JG: “Well, to be honest – because I haven’t been, before this moment! – to be clear, I would like to say that I think there’s a tendency for journalists to want to corner a movie like this into a certain…corner! And in this movie, it’s hard to separate the soldier, from the life that a soldier lives, you know? Like if you see a man in uniform, then the movie is about war, and the movie is about a man getting to get back to the things he loves, in my opinion. I’ve made movies about war. So I feel like I can say that. And I’ve answered many, many questions about that before, you know?“

Q: How do you feel about what’s happening?

JG: “I still have great faith in our president. And I believe that he’ll make the right choices. Look, it’s complicated. We are human beings. And soldiers are human beings. They have lives. And for me, I didn’t approach it like that. Because I didn’t play that part. I played a guy who’s in jail at the beginning of the movie. And to me, that’s an interesting aspect, politically. Which is actually a domestic issue. And I didn’t know that much about it, until I did research for the movie. I went to jails all around California, and juvenile halls. And I got involved in a writing program, as a result of doing research for this movie, with these young juveniles who write. I have relationships with some of them, and some of them have actually gone on to serve life sentences in some cases, and all of them, strangely, regardless of what has happened to them and their fate, are incredible kids.  And to me, that’s also an important aspect of this movie. That here’s this guy who comes out of jail after he holds up a bank. And then he ultimately turns his life around. To care for two children, and to love, you know? And so it is with the thing about war, is that it outshines everything else. But to meet these kids that were in this system, where it seems impossible to redeem themselves – my life changed, making this movie, Because of that, because of meeting those kids.”

Q: What about that scene where Tobey wrecks his kitchen, did you all need some decompression time after that, or did you laugh about it?

JG: “Well, the making of a movie is always full of its own odd moments. And when somebody breaks a cabinet in a movie, and has an intense moment, you have to go and put everything back in. And that’s what I love about movies. So that’s just the great fun and irony of movies. That people are made to look like idiots! But who are extraordinary at their jobs. And you have like, these three actors in this movie, who are taking themselves way too seriously. And then you have these two children who are so present. And so much better than you are! Like they couldn’t wait to say that Uncle Tommy – me – was f***ing their mom! It was great. And it was fun. So nothing was really tense, you know? Jim just made it fun.”

Q: What did Jim Sheridan bring out in you?

JG: “Like a stillness, you know what I mean? And I found Tommy to be so fascinating, because he was just still. Like the actors that everyone admires, are the ones who have these showy things. I admire those actors too. But I also admire actors who are able to be still.”

Q: Did you talk to any military families and how difficult it is for returning vets, in preparing for this movie?

JG: “No.”

Q: Because when you did Jarhead, you talked to a lot of soldiers.

JG: “I did.”

Q: So how did you feel out that brotherly relationship?

JG: “It wasn’t about that for my character, or being there for his brother. It just didn’t feel to me like this movie was about war. And it’s not about trying to sway you away from talking about war. But he did constantly worry about his brother not coming home.”

Q: So how did the prison system change your life?

JG: “I mean, you make movies, and so much is about this process now. You know, selling a movie. Or making it look good for an audience, or whatever. And the special moments that happen in movies, are the lessons that every movie has, for everybody involved in it. And I went through a journey in the prison system. But look, I don’t know how it can’t change your life when you meet a kid, who the day before was sentenced to life. And whose girlfriend had to testify against him. So I don’t know how you could be breathing, and not have something like that change your life. Like they get one hour outside a week, and they’re fourteen years old. It’s now changed to an hour a day, but it was an hour a week when I got there. That is not to say that they’ve done perfect things. But it is to say that it can’t not change my life. And another kid, Jim ended up putting in the movie. And another kid with the LA Conservation Corps started telling us all these stories, and they were unreal. To me. Like hiding meth in the back of a lamp of a four-wheel drive vehicle, driving over the border. And he was sixteen years old. And he told these stories like he was Homer. They were literally like tales. But he’s changed his life. He’s actually working now in the governor’s office in Sacramento. So it’s those things. It’s like you look at a movie and go, yeah. It’s a movie. But that’s the stuff that I care about. So anyway. that’s all!”

Q: How about the chemistry between you and Tobey, can you talk about that?

JG: “I think our relationship existed before we started shooting. With someone who is your contemporary, there’s bound to be that. You are brothers in arms. There is admiration, and competition. A mixture of all of those things, and a confusion of all of those things. And the belief in yourself over them, and their belief in them over you. Your love for them, your want for their success. Your struggling for that. All of those things exist. I mean, I could go on, with a list of contradictions. And that exists between two people who do the same type of thing, in any job. So we just had to kinda show up, and it was there. But it was just easy. So, there you go. Plus, we look kind of alike! And this is a message to every taxi driver in New York City: I’m not Spiderman!”

Q: So you have finished wrapping on Prince of Persia – how difficult or gruelling a production was that for you?

JG: “It wasn’t difficult at all.”

Q: Really? Putting on all that weight and running around like crazy wasn’t gruelling?

JG: “Well it was long – we shot for a long time. I guess putting on the weight for Persia was challenging. Doing all that physical activity and doing all that physical work to get into a part is a certain type of challenge but  I had to do it and I did it.”

Q: Is it going to be weird having little action figures of you out in the summer?

JG: “It’s great, in fact it’s awesome! I can’t wait.”

BROTHERS is now showing nationwide
PRINCE OF PERSIA opens in Ireland in Summer 2010