Jake Gyllenhaal makes himself a cup of herbal tea before our interview. He sits in the New York “Crosby Street Hotel” in SoHo, in front of him the tea and a green veggie juice. He wears a blue T-shirt, jeans and white sneakers. A low-key look. If it weren’t for the remarkable full beard. He wears it well and it’s slightly grey. “I like to go casual when I don’t work.” he says. In the last years the 32 year old played many tough guys, from a fighter pilot to a cowboy to an elite soldier. Along the way he dated some of the most sought-after women: Taylor Swift, Kirsten Dunst, Reese Witherspoon. Currently he has a new girlfriend, the sexy model Alyssa Miller with whom he strolled through the city these past weeks being totally smitten. But he rather talks about his family and his new thriller “Prisoners” in which he plays a detective hunting down a child molester.

It’s a really tough story. How did you prepare for it?
I really benefited from the preparations for my last movie “End of Watch”. Back then I met several policemen and they helped me out this time as well. One of the detectives is a very close friend by now. I also watched videos of interrogations of child abusers. I was fascinated by the different interrogation techniques. And by the paranoia and the doubts that are bound to arise. As a detective you can trust no one, everybody is suspect. That opened new points of views into the human mind to me.

You seem to enjoy to deal with the human abyss in career terms. Your own life seems to be rather tame, is it?
Yes, I can’t deny that (laughs). But everyone has a dark side too. My job allows me to dive into different worlds and to get to know more about myself. Of course I am lucky to be able to return to my own idyllic world and privileged life where I feel safe. Maybe that’s why I am so interested in the opposite. And in people who have jobs that are more important and require more courage than mine. I enjoy being surrounded by these people because I admire them.

So being a Hollywood actor is not an admirable career to you?
Of course I take my job very seriously and I find it important. I don’t do this to keep up a glamorous life style. Movies can change a lot. With stories you can make change happen and make people think about the important things in life. I want to be part of these questions that keep the world thinking. In the past years I have been interested in the reality outside my own world more and more. I am independent, don’t have kids and no responsibilities. Therefore I have the freedom to explore these abysses and be influenced by them. I feel a bit like the journeyman of life and I want to explore everything.

For “End of Watch” you patrolled the worst neighborhoods of LA and witnessed some murders. Do these tragedies hunt you in your sleep?
Yes, I have seen some dead people. That changed me as a human being. But I don’t want to make movies that I can just walk away from. I want to be challenged and to learn new things.

You are the uncle of your sister Maggie Gyllenhaal’s kids and the godfather of Michelle Williams’ daughter. How serious do you take this role?
I would do anything for these kids. They may not be my own but I have a very strong bond with them and I truly love them. When I shot “Prisoners” I had to think about them all the time. The interesting thing about my character is that he tries to develop no emotional ties while hunting the child molester. Which is hard when kids are involved. I didn’t succeed at that while shooting. I had my nieces and godchild on my mind all the time.

Is it true that you moved form LA to New York for your family?
There were several reasons but my family was certainly one of them. They all live here. My mum, my nieces, my sister and her husband, even my uncles, aunts and cousins. There was a point in my life where I realised that I want to spend my everyday life with my family. I want to be able to see them every day. Which is easier when you life in the same city and not 3000 miles apart (laughs).

You have to change your look a lot for your movies, from bald and muscular to full beard and full hair. Which look do you prefer personally?
I have to let my hair grow just to shave it all the time (laughs). I really don’t have any preferences. As long as it’s uncomplicated. Most people have to try to look their best for their job on a daily basis. When I work I try to look not like myself.

You could afford a personal trainer but you use regular gyms where your female fans gather around you. Why do you do that?
Good question. I don’t want to limit myself. I want to do what I want, end of story. As long as people remain friendly I don’t mind at all.

You are spotted at parties at lot less than at the gym…
Yes, I think it’s important to take care of your body. I get clarity from being physical. I was raised very active, our dad always encouraged us to be physical when we were kids. He would wake me before school and we’d go for a run. I love to be outside. It makes me happy. I do a lot of sports but I also do a lot for my mind. Both is part of my life and helps me do a better job.

What would have been a job alternative?
Chef (laughs)! I love to cook. It takes one back to the origins, down to earth. I think it’s important to know where your food comes from. Nothing beats walking through a farmers’ market and buying fresh, local, seasonal food. That’s something that we all should teach our kids. They should know where their food comes from. The natural cycle of seeing something grow, die and return to earth so something new can develop, is very inspiring.

Do you never sin with some fast food?
Of course I indulge every now and then, even though I know it’s not good for me. Just as one would watch a blockbuster movie for fun even though the movie is not challenging. The balance has to be right.
Interview taken from InStyle Men (Germany), September 2013 – Scans of the original article here.

Translated by sashalovespenporn