London Calling part II
Treading the boards of a New York stage may be new to Jake Gyllnehaal, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t comfortable up there. In 2002, he starred on London’s West End in a revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s, ‘This is Our Youth’. For his troubles he picked up an award for Best Newcomer. “That was an American play over in England, and this is an English play over in America, so now I’ve mirrored it in one way or another“, Gyllenhaal said. The 31-year Oscar-nominee’s current onstage role is in ‘If There Is, I Haven’t Found It Yet’. In the play, he adopts a very convincing English accent to play a slacker with a puppy dog’s heart who shows up on his brother’s doorstep.
A few excerpts from Nick Carver’s interview for GQ magazine UK. Finally we read something new.
You’ve talked previously about the gallows humour of the cops you rode with. What was the worst thing they made a joke about?
Michael [Peña] and I were on patrol with two sheriffs and they got a call to go down this alleyway. They whispered to us that they could hear something moving and drew their guns. Instinctively Michael and I began to fall back – if there’s potential for anyone to pull a gun, the situation isn’t a whole lot of fun, especially when you don’t have one yourself. All of a sudden we heard gunshots go off. We soon realised they had set fireworks off. They had totally messed with us – faked the call, rigged the alleyway – and we were freaking out that we were in some firefight! I guess it meant we weren’t so shocked in the future, but it was still a little embarrassing.
What did the police officers say on screen cops often get wrong?
So many things. I think there’s a stigma that goes along with the uniform that gets dramatised in films and on TV – that’s a fantasy and the reality is so much different. One of the things David Ayer was very serious about was the way in which the driver in a cop car switches the gears before he exits. It’s a very specific movement that’s very rarely done accurately. We worked so hard to make those moments really real – how we moved, how we held our guns, how we sat in the car, how we dealt with the suspects… I think we succeeded.
This film has a great soundtrack. Were there any particular artists you listened to in preparation for this role?
My character in particular was very intellectual, in a way. Most movies I do listen to music to psyche myself up, but there’s not anything specific for this one. I wasn’t even listening to music – I was listening to the sound around me. They say you roll down the window in a cop car and you hear the cries of the city. You never roll up your window – you need to use all your senses all the time.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
In work, never have any regrets and always leave everything on the field. And in life…at times, my grandfather would say to me, “This too shall pass”. That’s excellent advice.
This long HITFIX feature interview by Kristopher Tapley ranks among the most interesting of the past few months. I particularly enjoyed reading about what Jake learned from the directors he worked with (many of them British, as he realizes in the Empire interview (scroll to the bottom of the post and skip to the last 20 minutes) and about the language of If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet.
On building Jake’s character, Terry, with language:
The character stops in the middle of thoughts and he continues into the middle of the next one,” the 31-year-old actor says. “Sometimes he’ll pick back up parenthetically like four or five lines back down. So you don’t just have to find the attention, you have to fill in the blank…The story is so obtuse; it’s the same thing. You begin at the middle of the scene and you finish before the situation actually ends. So to me, I was just fascinated by that and it started to guide me.”
Gyllenhaal says he always felt comfortable in front of a live audience and, ever since he was a kid, enjoyed mimicry. A cockney Brit was one of his “stock characters that are always used as caricatures that aren’t really necessary,” he says. “They’re kind of like the simple shape and form and mold of a sculpture.”
The language itself, though, the rhythms of it, made the part irresistible. He could even see the architecture of the dialogue for each character on the page. All of Terry’s dialogue is on the left side of the page, never making it past half-way across. The starting and stopping gives tangible shape to the thing, and as to informing character, it almost serves as a defense mechanism. As the play’s director Michael Longhurst put it in a telephone interview, “When characters speak like that, it’s often to avoid what he’s trying to say. He spends his time asking people how they are. It’s a way of avoiding how he’s doing. It’s a very British thing to do, deflect, deflect, deflect.”
And so Gyllenhaal starts in with his accent to illustrate the point: “When I first come in I’m like, ‘Probably should have rung or something,’ period. ‘But phone was fucked,’ period. ‘And I thought,’ period. ‘By the time I was trying to get change for the fucking,’ period. ‘You know, the phone and that,’ period. ‘Then I might as well just,’ period…It’s crazy! But that’s the way he writes, and unlocking it is what’s fun.”
Damn, it makes me want to go and see the play again.
While End of Watch returns to US theaters this coming Friday
Yes, this is what a late-breaking awards season push looks like, and it’s a damn fine way for audiences to catch up one of the year’s best underseen gems.
tomorrow it’s time for Belgians and Spaniards to go watch it. Speaking of Spain, the National Police Academy in Avila hosted an exclusive preview of End of Watch – Sin Tregua a few days ago.
The film was presented by the Police Chief Inspector and the director of decine21.com. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the many police officer wannabes who attended the screening had a lot to discuss about after the screening.
My Spanish is rusty to say the least so I apologize for not even trying to translate the article but from what I understand apart from pointing out the apparent differences in handling the crime between the American and the Spanish (or more widely, European) police corps I think it was well received.
Anyway, long live The Beard.