‘Southpaw’s Gyllenhaal Says Ballet Tougher Than Boxing, Eminem Features Heavily In Soundtrack

Southpaw, released today to a nationwide audience, had lead male actor Jake Gyllenhaal in possibly the best shape of his life. But the pugilist training wasn’t the only reason for his impressive physique in the movie.

It was also thanks to… ballet?

“What I was amazed by was the grace and the sensitivity that’s needed to be a great fighter,” Jake Gyllenhaal said in a recent interview with Variety at the New York Premier of Southpaw.

“People say, ‘Oh, boxing is brutal,’ and this and that, and I say, ‘You know what else is brutal is ballet.'”

Jake Gyllenhaal, who trained for months for the Southpaw role of boxer Billy Hope, was coming off his critically acclaimed movie role in Nightcrawler. The roles couldn’t have been more different as Gyllenhaal played a thin cameraman chasing crime scenes in the 2014 movie. As IMDB records show, versatility has been the constant in Gyllenhaal’s career as the chameleon-like actor has deftly played a variety of roles in his 24-year acting career.

In Southpaw, Billy Hope has to overcome the loss of his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and custody of his daughter Leila (Oona Laurence) to revive his career and keep his family together. Rachel McAdams, best known for her work on The Notebook, joins Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker in this star-studded cast with rapper-turned-actor 50 Cent and British actress Naomie Harris. Known for his roles in Lee Daniel’s The Butler and The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker plays the role of Hope’s trainer, Tick Wills, who’s helping Hope regain his career and life throughout the movie.

As Indie Wire reported, Southpaw was written by Kurt Sutter, the creator behind the acclaimed Sons of Anarchy series. Sutter wrote the script with rapper Marshall Mathers (known as Eminem) in mind for the lead role. Southpaw is directed by Training Day‘s Antoine Fuqua, who has widely received praise for his visual acuity in the intense boxing scenes throughout the movie.

Reviews of the movie have been mixed, with several reviews, including that of Indie Wire, calling the script overloaded with clichés on this modern revision of the classic Rocky movie. Another repeated theme in Southpaw reviews, including Cinema Blend, has been the acting performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, who is receiving early Oscar-nomination buzz with this role.

The soundtrack for Southpaw delivers an eclectic mix of genres, with Eminem featured prominently on the soundtrack. With two solo songs (one of which is performed with Gwen Stefani, as the iTunes store notes) and two more as a part of the band Bad Meets Evil, Eminem’s new and original songs underscore scenes in the movie.

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In contrast to Eminem, music by the late James Horner is also on the soundtrack for Southpaw. Horner, who passed away last month, composed music for a host of different movies and television shows in a career that spanned five decades. As IMDB notes, Horner’s best-known work is part of Titanic, the movie that won eleven Academy Awards in 1998, including Best Original Song and Best Original Dramatic Score for Horner’s work.

[Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images]