Monthly Inspiration: Jake Gyllenhaal
Monthly Inspiration is a blog series that’s about what inspires me; filmmakers, styles, actors, scripts… each month, I’ll cover one new piece of inspiration. Hopefully I can turn you on to something that will inspire you as well. Sorry
A while ago I was talking with some guys on set about movies that we go back to over and over again. There were a lot of the usual answers; then someone said Donnie Darko (imdb.com). This started a nice long conversation about Jake Gyllenhaal (imdb.com) movies. What I took away from the conversation was: he’s been a pretty solid constant in my movie appreciating life, and he’s done pretty much everything.
Going back through his filmography made me say “Oh yea! He was in that, too!” more than once. October Sky, Bubble Boy, Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead (imdb.com), Zodiac, Rendition (imdb.com), End of Watch, Prisoners, and now Nightcrawler. His list of credits isn’t as long as some other actors, but his roles have been more impactful than most. And seeing his evolution from child actor to a major player in entertainment, but still being active with what’s going on in the “real world” is something that I can find inspiration in.
His first role was as Billy Crystal’s kid in City Slickers (imdb.com) in 1991, so he’s been acting pretty much as long as I’ve been alive. But when I was 12 I saw October Sky (imdb.com) and at the time I wanted to work for NASA, so I was instantly drawn to the film and watched it as many times as I possibly could. By the time I was really appreciating films as more than just entertainment I had memorized every beat in the the film. It’s still something I go back to and really enjoy for being a fantastic film. The early 2000’s were a really influential period in my preferences in films, and Gyllenhaal was a big player in that time.
There are very few actors that are competent enough to do any role in any genre. While Jake Gyllenhaal may have his limitations (I can’t see him teaming up with Will Ferrell for a slapstick comedy), he is definitely talented enough to pull off most types of roles. In the last 10 years (or so) he’s become a powerful dramatic actor. His portrayal of Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain (imdb.com) in 2005 earned him an Academy Award Nomination. And more recently he’s been handling some very tense, emotional roles (End of Watch (imdb.com) and Prisoners (imdb.com)) that really show the breadth of his intensity. While he’s more well known for his dramatic roles, he can pull off comedy pretty well, and I’d love to see more science fiction-esque roles out of him like Source Code (imdb.com). Last month I saw Bubble Boy (imdb.com) on Comedy Central and it’s quirky sense of humor plays off well with Jake’s performance.
The one thread that seems to keep coming back no matter what character Gyllenhaal takes on is “thriller.” 2007 saw him as the obsessive reporter Robert Graysmith in Zodiac (imdb.com). Last year he took on Prisoners. And this year (last month actually) Nightcrawler premiered to an opening weekend of $10 million. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good things and I’m really looking forward to it. From what I can tell it’s essentially combining his characters from Zodiac and Prisoners and looks fantastic.
But just being an awesome actor isn’t enough to be truly inspirational. Jake Gyllenhaal was born into the business (his father is a director, and mother is a screenwriter, and his big sister is an actor) but he’s still managed to stay relatively grounded. He and his family are huge supporters of the American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org), fighting to maintain the liberties that the Constitution guarantees us. He’s also a spokesman, supporter, and sponsor for Rock the Vote (rockthevote.com). I’m a big advocate of everyone being able to have a voice and Jake seems to have similar views; seeing someone who basically grew up “Hollywood” and not have their head up their ass is a nice change.
On top of having one of the most difficult last names to figure out how to spell, Jake Gyllenhaal has become a powerhouse thriller actor. He fights for basic rights and understands that he’s just an actor and tries to make his roles count, “it frustrates me when actors talk politics; I’m political and I make choices in my movies that I think are political. I try and say things with what I do. Rightly or wrongly, young actors have all the power.” Being able to remain level-headed in Hollywood is a difficult task; and for that, I commend him.
Monthly Inspiration: Jake Gyllenhaal