Jake Gyllenhaal gets physical in the new fantasy-adventure film Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, writes AREF OMAR

IN the trailer of the upcoming film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, a muscular Jake Gyllenhaal is seen doing amazing moves in exciting action sequences.

One has him scaling a high castle wall by pulling himself up using arrows half-buried in the wall that had been shot at the castle by a comrade.

“I look pretty cool doing that,” says the soft-spoken Californian actor when interviewed in Santa Monica.

“But what you don’t know is the behind-the-scenes goofs. My arm and shoulder muscles were so big that the chest plate I wore prevented me from reaching up to grab the arrows,” he says.

“There were many funny takes of me doing that and in the end, they literally had to cut wider arm holes in the chest plate,” he says with a laugh.

Known for his brooding character in Donnie Darko, his role in Brokeback Mountain as well as for his recent film, Brothers with Tobey McGuire, Prince Of Persia sees Gyllenhaal venturing into new territory as an action hero.

Produced by action guru Jerry Bruckheimer, of Pirates Of The Caribbean fame, Gyllenhaal in Prince Of Persia grows a manly mane and bulks up to play the dashing rogue prince Dastan.

Set in the mystical land of sixth-century Persia, he reluctantly teams up with the mysterious Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) to prevent an ancient dagger from falling into the hands of evil nobleman Nizam (Ben Kingsley).

The dagger contains the Sands of Time, which can reverse time and allows its possessor to rule the world.

“I’ve always loved watching action-adventure films and dreamt of being one of those characters as a kid. You know, like Indiana Jones and the cool, swashbuckling Errol Flynn flicks,” he says.

“When I read Prince, I saw a clear role for me. This guy is wry, gets to do lots of fun stuff and best of all, is ‘bad’ and funny,” says the 29-year-old actor, who was once considered for the roles of Spiderman and Batman.

Gyllenhaal now has his own action figure line.

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” he says, with a laugh.

“It’s interesting to note that although the film is inspired by the popular video game of the 1980s, the platform game itself was inspired by action films like Raiders Of The Lost Ark.”
Looking casual in a pair of black jeans, sneakers and a Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop T-shirt, the six-footer looks fit as a fiddle.

“I’m a physical person by nature, I love being active,” says Gyllenhaal, who is an avid cyclist and kung fu exponent.

For the film he learned parkour, which sees the environment as a jungle gym obstacle course. It was founded by David Belle.

“The role was incredibly acrobatic,” says Gyllenhaal.

Director Mike Newell, whose credits include Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Donnie Brasco and Four Weddings And A Funeral, wanted the action scenes to be epic yet believable.

“There is a scene where my character runs along a wall, which seems impossible, but Belle made it happen. It’s one of my favourite scenes from the film,” says Gyllenhaal of the film which was shot in Morocco and at Pinewood Studios in Britain.

He says he does many of the stunts himself, including a 10.6-metre jump with wire work.
“I wanted to do everything,” he says.

“Why sign up for a film like this if you’re not game for some real action?”

Note: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time opens on May 28.