Nuke the Fridge News was invited to a series of roundtable discussions at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills in order to interview cast members as well as the director for the upcoming crime/drama/thriller “Nightcrawler.” Versatile actor Jake Gyllenhaal spiced things up a bit with his analysis of his character Lou Bloom. He also discussed how he prepared for the role, how he saw the news and L.A. in a different light and more. Enjoy the interview and go see the film!
Q: What did you tap into to create Lou? He is such an indelible character? A demurral character with shades of a De Niro camp comedy or maybe even Dustin Hoffman from “Rain Man.” It couldn’t have been easy to achieve.
Jake Gyllenhaal: Not easy in the movie sense easy. I like to separate the two. Like life easy and movie easy and life hard and movie hard, but no, it wasn’t easy in that sense. There was a lot of preparation, but there were a lot of great words. There was just f***ing great dialogue that was written on the page and I said to the ‘T.’ You know, punctuation exactly memorized it like a play. I spent hours upon hours walking down the streets. I remember like early on, four months before, when I was on the streets in New York City running the lines trying to get them like getting three lines at a time. Hitting a run on the west side highway and being like… (very fast) “Excuse me sir I’m looking for a job… I’m trying to find a career to learn. I’m going to said…” “What I said, I what? F***!” you know what I mean, and like for months. So, there’s that. And then, it was something that started to feed into my soul a little bit, and into my bones. And, the way he talked, you know, the first line he has is, “I’m under the opinion that this is a detour.” Nobody talks like that, you know. Those sort of word choices became a part of me and I started losing weight and I started working with Dan (Gilroy) and we started rehearsing with everybody and he became. (He) sort of grew up out of the Earth.
Q: When you’re fully immersed in the role, what is your daily life like? Is everything kind of like blinders on just with the script or the project? Or, can you balance both?
Gyllenhaal: There was no real life with this role. Just from the specifics of it like the actual reality was like we were up at night you know. I wasn’t up during the day really much and when I was pretty much totally out of it. I wasn’t eating a lot of food and stuff. Just on a physical level of the chemical response that your body’s in, you don’t get out of it. You don’t get the weekend and be like, “Woo-hoo!” Now I can stay up during the day and I’m gonna eat. You don’t have that. So for the entire length of production it was just that. I was in it all the time.
Q:You say that you were filming at nights. At any point, did you feel like you were losing your mind?
Gyllenhaal: Are you talking about during the movie? (Everyone laughs!) Yes and no, but there’s some strange safety for me, which is probably a bit dangerous when you’re making a movie and you’re using it all for your work. Like, I’m sure if you’re writing a piece, or you’re putting a piece together, I have a goal with the thing I’m doing and somehow all those other feelings get channeled into the product that you’re trying to create. So, somehow it’s not as dangerous a little bit… but, I’m doing a movie with Jean-Marc Vallée (“Demolition”) right now and we were in a car and he’s operating and he’s in the passenger’s seat with the camera and I’m driving the car. We don’t have a rig or anything like that. We’re driving on the highway and he’s like, “Drive faster!” Yeah we’re all like, yeah faster! Wait, I’m like, “We’re making a movie.” There is that that happens. So, I don’t know if that answers your question.
Q: After the movie, did it change your perspective about the news? (A long and loud siren blares outside the window of the hotel and Gyllenhaal snaps into his Lou Bloom character and suddenly stands up transfixed by the noise. Everyone laughs!)
Gyllenhaal: Kind of. I think I’ve always felt that way a little. There’s a way in which you tell stories if you’re a part of telling stories anyway. If you make movies, there’s a sense of manipulation always. You’re always wondering what or how the audience will feel if you do this or is it going to be better that way. I started to see that real life can be manipulated, and it is, and inevitably in order to feed a new cycle or information. What I noticed, I think what I learned from this was that, I always kind of knew what I saw that unimportant information became important and important information was unimportant. So, everything exists now on a totally equal level in this very weird way. Because there is such a need for information that very important things are right up alongside very unimportant things and that there is no sort of discrepancy between either. And that, is the world in which a character like Lou Bloom blooms. And, I kind of knew that somewhere, but I really got into it. And I also, I think you start to see, there’s an innocence to people talk about how disturbing the character Lou is, but the guys, the ‘stringers’ who do it for real. And I was with them and it was fun. It was fun, and in a way, it was innocent. I don’t think they were thinking about, “Oh this is going to affect something.” You know, we’re the ones who are responsible for giving them the opportunity to pay, for people to pay for this stuff that they’re getting. We are the people who create Lou Bloom. We’ve created him. He is a creation of our culture. So, that’s how I feel about the news now.
Q: How did you first become involved in this project? What was the appeal of this particular character?
Gyllenhaal: I was sent the script by Dan and Tony (Gilroy) and Robert Elswit, who is shooting the movie, I know. He’s my godfather. And I got it and I called him up and I was wondering what Robert saw. He’s a really good storyteller and he talked a lot about it, and (gave) his take on it. In the vein of those 70s films like that Paddy Chayefsky kind of vibe to the whole vision of the film and that inspired me. To me, it was a character, it was just so well written. Like I said before, the first couple of soliloquies that he gave, that I read, I just thought this is like theater, you know. And when you find writing like theater on film, but it’s realistic, it doesn’t matter who the character is, you want to do it.
Q: (While) shooting, did you get a chance to see L.A. in a new light yourself through his eyes (Cinematographer Robert Elswit) and this experience?
Gyllenhaal: Yeah, the last two movies I made in L.A. have been a lot at night and the parts of Los Angeles that I didn’t grow up in and didn’t know a lot about. This movie, “End of Watch” it was like southeast L.A., all of southeast L.A., and we spent so much time there. So, I started seeing L.A. in a very different way than I had when I grew up around it. Even though, I grew up right on the edge of Koreatown. And then, I didn’t even really realize it till we started driving through with some cops like I lived right near Rampart. You know when I was a kid like growing up around there. I wasn’t conscious of that. And in this one deep valley like Dan’s whole intention with this movie was to show Los Angeles as not the Los Angeles that we know, not the downtown we’ve seen in films you know. We see a little bit of Santa Monica, but even the Santa Monica we see is lit like, this like, vibrant kind of crazy vibrance, but yeah that deep valley look. I’ve driven through, we’re all isolated, that’s the thing about L.A. I started to see no matter what your socio-economic background, you’re isolated. It doesn’t matter. It’s just the way we transport around here. You know what I mean. You take a bus, or you take a car, or whatever it is, it’s not like a lot of other cities. So, Dan kind of burst that open and we were in areas that I had way deep valley. You know, the last shot is not deep valley, but Glendale, you know, that area, which is a strip that could seem like really impersonal and kind of just you don’t know what it feels like, and it’s SO L.A.! It’s like the beat of the essence of Los Angeles is in Glendale Boulevard. So, it’s a long winded answer, but I’ve fallen back in love with L.A. after having moved to New York. (Everyone laughs.)
Q: This is a cliché, but do you think New York is a better place to live as far as just nurturing your acting life or it doesn’t really matter?
Gyllenhaal: What nurtures my acting life is… my life. And my life is my family and my life happens to be in New York. The majority of my family is there. And so, that’s really what, you know, my connection to something that it feels the most real and the most grounded that’s made my work, I think, more interesting to me.
Q: The film kind of portrays America, you know, you can have nothing or you can have everything if you’re ruthless enough. Was some of that from you or from Dan Gilroy in that approach for Lou?
Gyllenhaal: The writing, all those things, is almost plagiarized from what Lou Bloom says from all that corporate America sh!^ and that self-help stuff. I don’t think Lou ever says anything that I wouldn’t agree with. If you think about it. (Someone groans.) No really! What he does is different than what he says. What he says and how he justifies what he does. He justifies it with what he says, but he just turns what we all use. You know, our idea of success… at any cost. All those things, he does something different, but he says what we want him to say. If you go back and watch it, you go like, that makes sense. When he says like, ‘When it comes to work reputation you can never unring the bell.’ He’s talking about manipulating the guy to go kill people, but he’s still saying stuff that we use. The thing that I always thought about Lou that maybe Dan knew in his bones because we agreed about it, but I think Lou’s pretty gangster. Like that was me like in my mind, I just thought that there’s that sort of vibe. Yeah, he has that vibe.
Q: With the obsession with success, and the result, are you detached from the result? Is it just an experience for you and the recognition, the box office, and the awards, do you think about it?
Gyllenhaal: I really can’t think about any of that stuff when I’m doing my work. It doesn’t help my work at all. I mean, the only time an idea result helps me is when the director comes to me and reminds me of where we’re going and then it changes the choice that I’m going to make within a scene. That’s very helpful to me. But most of the time I think if you start thinking about how someone’s responding, it’s like you’re watching yourself while you’re inside something and it just becomes unnatural. It’s an unnatural human thing. And, I don’t think that it’s good for the creative process. Then, it comes out and now I like love the film and I want everyone to see it. We worked really hard and I’m really proud of it. And so, it’s a different beast. Because I’ve seen so many cuts of the movie and I’ve been involved in this process really intimately not just as the actor in it, but also in producing it with them. With Dan and with Tony and with Jen (Jennifer Fox,) because of that, I want people to see it. You know what I mean. And it does matter to me in a different way. And when I walk into a screening I’m nervous in a different way than I am as an actor. The response ultimately I know how I feel about it and that’s what matters to me the most.
Q: After playing such an intense role, do you need to take a break before taking on another one?
Gyllenhaal: I do, but sometimes you don’t get the shot. When I feel like you get an opportunity to take a break, you gotta take it when it comes, you know. After this movie, it took me a little bit of time, but I went into this Everest movie, a movie about Mt. Everest, about the expedition in 1996 with the tragic expedition up there. That was strangely cathartic cause we were out in nature and I was just excited to be eating. Just to sort of shake off the character takes awhile. And I can feel it. After the Everest movie, I did one with Antoine Fuqua. I did this boxing film (“Southpaw”) and I spent six months training for that movie and I just started a movie with Jean-Marc Vallée and I had like two weeks between and I was like okay (‘Gyllenhaal makes a sound like he is shivering.’) Even though you change your body, you explore a side or piece or inside of yourself that you have to pull back out. You steer a ship like you were in a storm and now the sky is clear and you’re like well, okay and you know, ‘We’re headed that way now.’ Alright. Somehow I think the universe leads us all into places whether it be in life or creatively or work, wherever it is like there are all these clues everywhere. I bring one character into another one with me. I did this play and then I immediately went and did a movie, do any of you know this movie? “Prisoners.” I just stole sh!^ from that character and put it on the screen and I was like working it on stage as I transitioned out of that character. Out of the character on stage into the movie and thank God I landed on my feet. But like, you just roll with it.
Q: You’re almost unrecognizable in the film, whose idea was the body transformation and what was the process to get there?
Gyllenhaal: It was my idea to lose weight, but it was sort of a mutual idea of mine and Dan’s that he was really an animal. He’s really a coyote. And then, I tried to figure out how I was going to make him into that and the choice became a physical one. And Dan is very thin. I don’t know if you guys have talked to Dan yet. The way Dan talks. He’ll talk and move his hands (Gyllenhaal gesticulates and the room erupts into laughter) and there is a thing about him and I just sort of stole the thing. I stole from Dan and I stole from a few people that I know in my life, but the physical stuff came from me. I saw it. As soon as I read the script, I saw it. I was like, ‘How do I make that? How do we do that?’ Sometimes an idea, oh, maybe he’s thin. We’ll let him work until like he wears clothes that are too big. But that was the first idea.
Q: What about the ponytail?
Gyllenhaal: The ponytail? That just happened one day. And I came to Dan and he’s like, “No, I love it! I love it!” Every time he goes and does something serious like he puts his hair up. And Dan’s like, “Oh, I love it.” The first time we did it, I was driving in the car and he was like, “We’re going way too fast!” I was like, (really fast) “Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh!” How many people have driven in L.A.? How many times? You can all admit it. You’re driving in L.A. with your f***ing knee. You know what I mean, just for a minute, while you just do whatever you need to do for a second. And I was doing that and he’s like, “You’re going way too fast man!” And I’m like, “You’re not listening. Duh, duh, duh, duh…” It just happened and Dan loved it and we just kept it going.
Here is the synopsis for the film:
Nightcrawler is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film fires, crashes, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling – where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Nina (Rene Russo,) a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou thrives. In the breakneck, ceaseless search for footage, he becomes the star of his own story.
“Nightcrawler” will open in theaters on October 31st. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Anne McDaniels, Ann Cusack, Kathleen York, Marco Rodriguez, Kevin Rahm, Eric Lange, Riz Ahmed, Jamie McShane, Michael Hyatt, Jonny Coyne, Viviana Chavez, Kiff VandenHeuvel, David Dustin Kenyon, Carolyn Gilroy, Emily Dahm, Jason Heymann, Kent Shocknek, Chad Guerrero, Christina de Leon, Tyler Cole, James Huang, Dale Shane, Leah Fredkin, Dig Wayne, Michael Papajohn, Adrian Winther, Kevin Dunigan, Damien Snow, Austin Raishbrook, Bill Seward and Aaron Bledsoe. Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Michel Litvak, David Lancaster and Jake Gyllenhaal are producers, while Gary Michael Walters and Betsy Danbury are executive producers. The film is written and directed by Dan Gilroy.