Jake Gyllenhaal sat down recently for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where he talked about his new movie and the work he had to do for it, emotionally.
Gyllenhaal spoke about Demolition director Jean-Marc Vallee and the conversation they had during filming, when Vallee told him he would have to break down during a moment of grief. For Gyllenhaal–who is well known for his fierce dedication to roles, which includes altering his body–the process was a learning experience regarding the way we deal with loss.
“He came to me and said, ‘We’re going to do a scene in a car and you’re going to basically break down.’ That’s his spirit. Feelings don’t come when we expect them too, so shoot the movie in the same way…It’s a story about a guy who begins the movie in a conventional way and ends the movie through an unconventional journey, feeling however he feels, and not how society tells him to feel. That’s uncomfortable as an actor. It’s not what you’ve been told grief is supposed to be, but discovering as you go along,” Gyllenhaal said.
Grief is something that Vallee–who directed Dallas Buyers Club–knows a little something about. The film follows Gyllenhaal’s character as he navigates through the loss of his wife and attempts to make sense of things in the aftermath, and Vallee was directly involved in the evolution of Jake’s character.
“Jean-Marc would come up to me before a scene with tears in his eyes, before my character had tears in his eyes. And he’d be there right with me, deep in wherever I was, or where he wanted me to go. He’d say, now come join me,” Gyllenhaal said.
The film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and is difficult to categorize because it’s a drama with elements of comedy, a dark look at the life of a man who can’t mourn his wife, which focuses on his inability to extract a bag of M&Ms from a vending machine. But for some, this inability to package the film into a neat box is part of its charm.
“These past few years Vallee has established himself as a ‘leading actors’ director. The world discovered what he could do in Dallas Buyers Club and Wild. In Demolition you’ll see the next step. He was able to, with the actor, work to completely immerse that actor in the character,'” said Toronto Film Festival’s Cameron Bailey.
[Photo courtesy Fox Searchlight]