Next stage

It’s getting hectic in here, and deliciously so. Everyday a new interview, new pictures, events, happenings, meetings, screenings, rumors. It’s all about Jake in New York these days. The NYTimes just posted this interesting commentary, along with two new shots. As the big day approaches (previews start tomorrow), more details about the play are being revealed.

[…] Hunched over a script beside his cast mates and director, Mr. Gyllenhaal rolled through questions on his mind about a scene in which his character — Uncle Terry, brokenhearted and charmingly roguish — reveals a few of his many problems.

“When was the last time I talked to Rachel?” Mr. Gyllenhaal asked, referring to Terry’s ex-girlfriend. “Did I see Rachel at the funeral, or after?” And then: “I must’ve done something that made her say, ‘I’m tired of this guy.’ What was it?”

These questions, and the many that followed, were the sort that classically trained actors ask as they probe layers of their characters to puzzle out intentions, tones and emotional shades for imbuing a performance. Mr. Gyllenhaal studied at Columbia University for two years before dropping out to become a movie star, and some directors on earlier films, like Ang Lee of “Brokeback Mountain,” have described him as a freestyle actor more than a methodical one.


“Around the time I hit 30, I asked myself if I was respecting acting as a craft,” he continued, frequently brushing his fingers through his thick hair, free of its black-on-black Yankees cap, “and if I was doing the right projects that deserved my attention and where I’m learning in a way that you might not feel at 15. So now it’s like I look at acting more as building little delicate cricket cages, with care and more thought.”


He recently wrapped a role as a history teacher in another coming film, “An Enemy,” for which he e-mailed frequently with one of his old Columbia professors about the art of delivering classroom lectures. 

This is interesting…

Mr. Lesher had long been an admirer of Mr. Gyllenhaal’s but only came around to casting him after “Jake mounted a campaign to meet with us and be in the movie.” Asked if Mr. Gyllenhaal was trying to prove something with “End of Watch,” Mr. Lesher continued:

“I just think it’s a very grown-up part, and something very different from Jake’s own personal life and upbringing, and we all wanted the movie to feel as real as possible. I don’t think we’ve seen all that Jake’s capable of, and this is a good example of how he’s trying to show all that he can do.” (The two men plan to work next on a movie about gambling addicts in the South.)

Mr. Payne said that he and Mr. Gyllenhaal first bonded over the staccato structure of Terry’s dialogue. While the other three characters in the play are given to well-formed sentences and occasional speeches, Terry speaks mostly in fragments and leans frequently into pauses as he struggles to express deep-seated anger and self-loathing.

“Jake really got the rhythms and desperation in the dialogue, and its switches — the way a few words could be heartsick, and then there would be a period, and then the next few words could be furious,” he said.

Terry is far from a glamorous character, though he has a bad-boy appeal not unlike another beer-guzzling layabout named Uncle Terry: Mark Ruffalo’s character in Mr. Lonergan’s movie “You Can Count on Me.” But Mr. Gyllenhaal’s Terry is a rougher sort. He turns on a dime in several pivotal scenes with his niece, Anna, who is being bullied at school because of her weight.

A very nice account of Jake’s kindness and Jake’s way to look out for her from Annie Funke:

The actress playing Anna, Annie Funke, said that the emotional intensity of rehearsals had been eased for her by Mr. Gyllenhaal’s kindness. Recently, she said, they were working on a scene in which Terry is giving Anna a hard time about her weight and sulkiness. In an acting exercise suggested by the director, Michael Longhurst, Mr. Gyllenhaal touched or poked Ms. Funke every time he said something to her, to physicalize the psychological effect of taunting. Ms. Funke eventually broke down in tears.

“I just reached a breaking point because I hadn’t quite realized before, until Jake was poking me, what it felt like to be picked on and bullied and how all of that must make Anna feel,” Ms. Funke said. “I was just completely overwhelmed. And Jake grabbed me and hugged me, and we finished the scene. He has looked out for me completely.”

Let’s remember this, every time he chooses a new role:

It was Terry’s capacity for cruelty that appealed to Mr. Gyllenhaal most of all. “The intentions of Terry are very different from anything I’ve played before, especially his vicious side,” he said. “It intrigued me so much, and that was the sign. I want to come home at the end of the day and be wiped out and feel I’ve torn my heart out from acting and feel fulfilled. At this point I don’t have the desire to do anything other than projects that make me feel that way.”


8 thoughts on “Next stage

  1. That’s a great article. I love those little glimpses into the process, the preparation the actors go through in rehearsals. After reading this, I get the feeling this play will be a lot more intense than I had first imagined, and I’m more excited than ever.

    • I have the same feeling, Susan, and I wish I were already inside that theater, it’s getting harder and harder to wait. I especially liked what Annie Funke said about those overwhelming scenes with Jake poking at her and then grabbing and hugging her. That’s so Jake. But the whole article is great.

  2. I agree the whole article is great and the play looks more and more interesting with all the new details we are getting. It’s getting harder and harder to me realising that I won’t be able to experience it! 😥 I like uncle Terry mixed with Jake!
    I may imagine how hard was for 15 years old Annie to be poked and bullied by grown up man with all that negative energy it brings. Must be difficult for her to differ play from life, since she really is overweight. So nice of Jake to take care of her. That’s our man!
    I also like Nick Payne’s description of a special way of Terry’s way of talking. It will be interesting and I think, it may be easier for Jake to speak with British accent that way.
    Shall we expect that privately Jake will look and behave like Terry, like he did making An Enemy? 🙂 We’ve got also kind of confirmation about Jake’s participation in Mississippi Grind, haven’t we?
    Exciting times!

    • Really exciting times, mermon! and so much more to look forward to! Kind of a confirmation, yes. I think that project might eventually be confirmed. And Jake behaving like Terry, why not? I love the way he’s described in that article. Lots of information, a wonderful insight. As for Annie/Anne yeah, I bet many lines have affected the young actress deeply. Good thing she has Jake on her side 🙂

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