Monday, 31 December 2007

February 11 2007 - The BAFTAs strike gold with Jake Gyllenhaal

Happy New Year's Eve to everyone! As we count down the last hours of the year, and because it's my birthday to boot, today's special post is about my own personal favourite Jake moment of the year, which set the stage for the rest of 2007. This can only be Sunday February 11, a very cold frosty day in Covent Garden, when London gave Jake a greeting to remember at the BAFTAs.

A very early start indeed was in order, to get hold of the blue wrist band, which we wore like they were more precious than gold, and allowed us to get through the police barricade to the front of the red carpet outside the Royal Opera House. The wait was fun though, forging lasting friendships with Ruby, Anouska and Mouk while watching Jake videos on my MP4 player and chatting with some of the other fans in the line - many of whom were there for Daniel Craig.

It's worth pointing out that we had little idea Jake was actually going, just a mention on Radio 1 the day before which said he may be. But as we lined up for the wrist bands, along with professional autograph hunters, we could hear them discussing the stars expected. We heard Jake's name. A guy said that Jake had not been seen at the party the night before and no one knew where he was staying - the heart dropped. But he then said that Jake was the nicest celebrity he'd ever got an autograph off - smiles all round.

Finally, as it started to get dark, we were moved from the main line and allowed through the barricade and along the side of the red carpet. We got as close to the front as we could, behind some young fans of Mylene Klass. We came to a deal. We'd yell to attract Mylene's attention but if and when Jake showed up, we would all yell for him. The young fans said no problem because Jake's not coming - Oh, I thought. We were given a radio headset through which we could listen to the commentary of a presenter in a balcony above us. Across the street we had the E and Sky set up, which was hosted by the lovely Captain Jack (Torchwood), John Barrowman - he made a worthwhile distraction.

The stars came and went - Toni Collette (whom I swear turns up everywhere), Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Richard Griffiths, Richard Wilson, Eva Green, Helen Mirren and other people (including Mylene Klass) I was too distracted to remember. I was giving up, as Mouk would confirm, but then I heard the announcement through the headset: 'And now getting out of the car is.... Jake Gyllenhaal' and time froze and then the world went mad.

I pushed forward off the curb of the pavement, reasoning that it was a professional autograph hunter I was shoving out of the way and so he deserved it. I looked left and got my first glance of Jake, signing autographs on our side of the red carpet. And he stuck to that side, getting nearer and nearer until he was in front of me. I said his name to him and handed my GQ to him and while he held one side, and I held the other, Jake signed it and I got a good look at the most beautiful human being I've ever seen - and he shone (I realise now that this could have been something to do with the tan - real or otherwise - for Rendition) but I still say he shone more than any other star walking down the carpet that day.

We were all in shock (Anouska had stroked Jake's sleeve and it made her giddy) as this kind of experience was new to us, and someone - Anouska? - suggested we should follow Jake down the line. And we did and we had the time of our lives and were... exuberant so I might leave that to your imagination. Suffice to say, I did get told to get down off some camera scaffolding and at one point I yelled at Helen Mirren (who had just kissed Jake) to get out of the way. We also saw Jake give Ian McKellen a big hug and not for the cameras either. Ruby also yelled something out which made quite a few people burst out laughing but that's for her to say - I do wonder if Jake heard, maybe not.

Finally, Jake went into the Opera House and, having achieved more than we could ever have hoped, we left to find a pub in which to toast Jake, walking past Daniel Craig with barely a glance. Tight friendshps were forged that day and evening and it's very possible that that is the greatest prize of all from 11 February. It also means something to me that my autograph from TIFF was on a magazine cover which showed a picture of Jake on that BAFTA night. Incidentally, Jake was the only star I saw who walked down the carpet with his own pen ready to go.

Not surprisingly, the BAFTAs was also Ruby's top moment of the year, as she describes here: 'There are so many great Jake moments in interviews and DVD extras etc. that it would be hard to choose. I love the Jarhead doc when he is getting his head shaved, and the ‘Jack Nasty Loves you” moment of Oprah; and his birthday phone call to Ellen, and the ‘a-maaaz-ing’ modern dance movements on Conan… I could go on!'

'My favourite personal moment though has to be Bafta, where I met WDW, Anouska and another friend for the first time having been chatting to them on-line at DCF for a while. It was insane, getting up in the middle of the night to go stand around in the cold all day with virtual strangers, at an event I would normally never consider going anywhere near, and all to see some Hollywood actor - and at my age too!!. Was it worth it? Hell, yeah. I made some very good friends. Oh, and I saw Jake too. He passed by us way too quickly, signing autographs all the way, and someone (Anouska?) had the bright idea of following him down the carpet to where they do the interviewing. This of course meant we were way back in the crowd and could barely see him let alone get his attention. Not for lack of trying on either count though.'

'Any rumours that in desperation to get his attention, I may have yelled out something inspired by the Oprah moment above; to the amusement of the crowd; may or may not be totally unfounded.' [Not - WDW]

We quite often retrace our steps and this weekend we were able to walk them with our friend and fellow Brokie Tammy, visiting from Sweden. The Opera House looked beautiful.

Later, back at home, I settled down to watch the BAFTAs on TV - it was showed on a delay - and Jake was wonderful:

Includes pictures from WDW (the shaky ones), Ruby and IHJ.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO JAKE AND TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU! I wish all of us a year filled with Jake adventures, great movies and good company. Thank you for your support of WDW over the last nine months and for your generous friendship. Cheers and here's to 2008!!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Memories of TIFF and 7 September

With a day to go before the end of what has been a fabulous year, today I'm remembering 7 September 2007, which was not only one of the best days I've ever experienced, it was also important and so memorable for more than one member of the community here. This post is dedicated to each of you.

The Toronto International Film Festival couldn't have come at a better time for me. Nothing helps you get over these little trials better than a Jake Gyllenhaal adventure and the company of some fellow Jakers. This flying visit was spectacular from the very beginning - although arriving at Toronto's airport probably no more than 10 minutes after Jake walked through it was a little... vexing. I saw the luggage carousel from his plane (as I later discovered) and it was just about empty. But that evening, while walking off the jetlag and enjoying the heat, I came across what turned out to be Jake's hotel - the Hazeldene - and I couldn't believe my luck that, just as I was about to head back to my hotel, I saw Jake leave his hotel and be driven out of the back in one of the festival's infamous SUVs.

Staying at the hotel where the press conferences were taking place was a bonus and, thanks to a kind Australian journalist, we found out when the Rendition press conference was and we were able to watch Jake and the others enter the side door. Even better, when they came out, we were close enough to speak to Jake and Peter, get an autograph or two, whilst almost being smothered by the paps behind.

I was papped too! Here is me (far right) talking to Peter, Jake having been driven off just a moment before.

That night we went down to the Roy Thomson Hall and waited inside the foyer for Jake to walk through to the lift. The attendants were great, by the way. They seemed to realise what all this meant to us. Jake's friend Chris came through first and then Jake turned the corner (the cries of 'Jake! Jake!' were a clue he was on the way) and he walked smiling past us, being rushed and pulled along by the lady we saw at the Baftas and in Cannes. We then ran to get our seats in the balcony - in the rush I noticed Reese walking past me to the right and managed to get a photograph of the back of her head - this goes nicely with the other picture I took of the back of Reese's head in Rome. She doesn't half walk quickly.

Watching Gavin Hood, Kelley Sane and the actors come on stage one at a time, was a wonderful moment. It did mean though that I didn't get to see too much of the film. It was overwhelming and I was grateful to the friends on either side. The film received a standing ovation. We went back to Yorkville to enjoy the party atmosphere. Later that night, I saw Peter and Chris again in the street and heard that Jake and Reese were at George Clooney's party round the corner. An amazing day and I have to thank Bobbyanna, her lovely daughter, Becky and Felicia for their wonderful company. In the picture below, the other ticket is from the Rome gala.

As we were having our amazing experience, so too were another trio, Em, Missy and Thomas from EnnisJack. I am so grateful to Em for her account of their adventure, which she sent me to share here. I also know how much their account of the whole encounter meant to everyone at EJ; both Christie and Rosie have said that to me. Em, Missy and Tomas' Jake encounter made the frontpages of the Toronto papers and, it's hardly surprising because they got Jake to sign one of his Brokeback shirts, which he did, above the heart. Here are Em's words and, as many of us know, Em is a fine, fine writer and she just took me write back with this. The video follows.

'My favourite Jake moment of 2007 is at the Rendition World Premiere at the TIFF. No surprise, because I can be heard screaming Jake's name in a manner that would make even a banshee cringe in horror in the vid I shot of the event. I remember standing there amidst a crowd of people, what must have been a sea of nameless faces to Jake, and feeling like, for a brief moment, he knew me. Such a fanciful notion, I know, but it seemed like all around me was chaos and the only time everything became quiet and still was when Jake was standing in front of me.'

'I went with two EJ friends, MississaugaRed and Thomas. We also had one of the shirts Jake wore for the confrontation scene in BBM, a piece of clothing Thomas had purchased at an auction. We had no idea what we were doing because this was our first time at the TIFF. But, somehow, we stumbled upon the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of Jake because we were surrounded by TIFF veterans who knew some of the senior volunteers and officials. When those around us realized we had Jake's BBM shirt they were determined to help us in getting it signed. When Jake showed up, the TIFF veterans around us called out to one of the officials, Cheryl, and told her we had one of Jake's shirts from BBM and could he come over and sign it?'

[I love this 'wow' moment from Jake - WDW]

'I could feel my dear Thomas trembling beside me when Jake came within sight of us. Thomas asked Jake to sign the shirt and Jake immediately said, "Yeah, sure." Jake looked down at the shirt and he mouthed "Wow" and carefully signed the shirt on the left side, above where his heart would have been if he wore it. Thomas said "Thank you" and Jake kind of nodded and gave a little smile but his eyes were very soft and solemn. And, you know, he didn't say "You're welcome" but, standing there, I felt welcomed. I felt like Jake had invited us in, just for a few intimate seconds, into his world.'

'As soon as Jake was whisked away we ran across the street to get in line for the screening with only fifteen minutes to spare. While we were in line I showed both Thomas and Missy the vid I just took and we still couldn't quite believe what we had experienced just minutes before. We couldn't wait to tell our friends that Jake had signed the shirt. Little did we know that while we were watching Rendition, Associated Press released a picture of Jake getting his picture taken with one of the TIFF veterans beside us and in that picture both Thomas and Missy are beaming at Jake in adoration!'

'So that's my favourite Jake moment of 2007. In fact, one of my favourite moments EVER in 2007. Thomas said it best when he said there are so many things to love about Jake. But the best thing is...Jake brought us all together. At the TIFF. At EJ. At WDW. Whether he's doing Snakes On a Plane, calling himself Jake Gooberballs, or simply signing an autograph...there's a very real sense of hospitality within him that seems to invite us into parts of his world. Through that, he becomes ours... and we become his. And being in Jake's world is a good place to be.'

This picture of mine below is another of my famous nearmiss photographs. Except for showing Jake's feet, this could well be just before the event described by Em.

I discovered afterwards that two others were there that night - Chillinwitgyllen and Get Real. CWG can have been no more than a few feet away from me in the theatre foyer and it's such a pleasant feeling thinking both CWG and Get Real were also in the auditorium. Here are a couple of pictures that CWG sent me from that incredible time. Next time, I trust we can all do it together!

Includes pictures from IHJ, WDW and Em.

Jake and Reese in Santa Monica 29 December [Updated with Video]

It's good to see Jake again - here are photographs of Jake and Reese walking around Santa Monica and Brentwood yesterday. The cup of coffee continues to be the accessory of choice this winter. Oh to live somewhere where you don't have to wear ten layers of padded clothing when you go for a stroll.

Thanks for the link, anon.

Updated to add video from here.


Saturday, 29 December 2007

Jake and Brokeback's BAFTA success - 2006

Today, I met both old and new Brokeback friends in London. We retrod our footsteps from the BAFTAs in February this year and remembered Jake Gyllenhaal's success at those awards the year before. So, let's revisit the BAFTAs in 2006, where, not only Jake, but also Brokeback Mountain, found reward. It's also fun to look back and watch Jake presenting his first award at the event.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Jake - 'It's bigger than box office and awards'

There hardly seems to be a film critic out there who isn't at pains to include Zodiac in his or her top 10 movie list of the year. It makes for pure pleasure reading these Best of lists, remembering the days when Zodiac finally came out after what seemed like delay after delay and then feeling like it wasn't making the impact it should have done on box office takings. Now that seems less relevant, because Zodiac is right up there in the top ten, often in the top five and sometimes in the top two. We don't need vindication for this marvellous film, and I'm sure David Fincher and his amazing cast, crew and post-production wizards don't either, but it does make me feel good, as the year closes, to see Zodiac right up there.

I've made no secret of my own personal adoration of this film - maybe because the anticipation was so long and then was so perfectly rewarded - and it's a joy to revel in these celebrations of a film, which, if only allowed one film choice, I would take with me to that desert island (it obviously has electricity or an endless supply of batteries).

The Boston Herald put Zodiac right at the top: '“Fight Club” for grown-ups, David Fincher’s chiller is an engrossing, hypnotic, multitextured and evocative account of the 1970s-era serial killer.'

The Californian NC Times placed Zodiac at No 7: 'Calling "Zodiac" a crime thriller or a serial-killer flick forces its best qualities to take a back seat to genre preconceptions. "Zodiac" is so good because of its dedication to logic and deduction. That's why the best scene in the film ---- and one of the best scenes of the year ---- is a simple but also deceptively complex dialogue exchange between characters played by Mark Ruffalo and Jake Gyllenhaal. They solve a mystery with an exchange of words and the free flow of brain power, a give-and-take rumble more exciting and rewarding as entertainment than any gun battle. The film is a thinker with some under-the-radar great acting.'

Staten Island Live placed Zodiac at No 3: 'It's another dark movie -- about a serial killer, in this case -- but it's possibly the most entertaining title on this list, and the one that most rewards repeated viewings. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. are all in top form in this film about the killer who terrorized San Francisco in the 1960s and '70s, while director David Fincher obsessed over every frame (and it shows).'

The Toronto Star had this to say: 'Zodiac: Forget Fight Club and Se7en. If you're looking for the real reason to consider David Fincher a major-league American director, all the evidence is right here. Zodiac is at once an epic true-crime police procedural and a genuinely chilling study in the nature of unfulfilled obsession. I should know: I've seen it three times already.'

The Limerick Reader put Zodiac at No 2: 'No matter what your star sign, you will love this three hour epic. Anything based on a true story gives a movie extra impetus and especially if it is a horror one. In 1970s' San Francisco a killer known as the Zodiac stalked the streets murdering people at random. This has become one of the most infamous unsolved murder cases in American history and now one of the best films of the year. This film and the scene in the basement proves that you don't need graphic violence and buckets of blood to scare viewers. Factor in fantastic performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jnr, and direction from David Fincher and you've got yourself a hell of a film.'

Elsewhere, the editors of Rotten Tomatoes found room for Zodiac in their top 5, and critics at NewsOK placed Zodiac at No 2 and No 5. The San Francisco Sentinel had this to say about one of its favourite films of the year: 'David Fincher found a story to match his own obsessive need for control in this infuriating but brilliant and original film about the elusive (and in some ways debilitating) quest for truth.' The New York Sun placed Zodiac at No 7, although I'm otherwise ignoring them as they called Jake's performance 'anaemic', which makes me doubt their abilities to judge a good performance when they see one.

Rendition, unfortunately but not unexpectedly, got little mention. However, the Kane County Chronicle ignored Zodiac and placed Rendition at No 8: 'The fall brought many films that examined our post-9/11 world. This is the best of them, a shattering drama about an American Muslim (Omar Metwally) falsely accused of a bombing in northern Africa. Metwally is outstanding in a cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep and Peter Sarsgaard.' The Canadian Windsor Star (in a very odd list) placed Rendition equal 11th. The Progressive launched its Progies awards and included Rendition as one of the films up for Best Anti-War Feature: 'South African director Gavin Hood (2005’s "Tsotsi") cast a withering eye on the "War on Terror" and its draconian tactics in this anti-torture drama starring Oscar winners Streep and Reese Witherspoon, plus Jake Gyllenhaal, Omar Metwally and Yigal Naor.'

Two sites (MTV and Sign On San Diego picked up on the 'This is my first torture line' as one of the funniest lines (in an unfunny film) of the year.

The Zodiac Dircetor's Cut DVD

Not long now til the DVD event of 2008 (or until the DVD of Rendition comes out a few short weeks later). Here is another long, full and very interesting review of the release (with spoilers).

Zodiac in Cannes

I'm obviously in a Zodiac mood, so here is a video of the Cannes Press Conference. We've seen extended clips of this before, with all manner of difficulties due to the flow of the footage or the voiceover. Here are a few minutes, which can be enjoyed without any hindrance at all.

Jake falls in love with the marines and Brokeback

Having been informed that Jarhead is the perfect film for the Christmas holidays - something to do with a Santa hat - here is another video interview Jake recorded about the film, this time with the BBC. The interviewer asks something which had come to my mind as well - Why would anyone want to be a marine? Jake replies: 'I don't know, maybe it's somewhat of a male thing... I speak for myself, there's a time in my life and still is, I think, when there's a feeling of aggression and anger and a feeling of wanting to punch your fist through a wall.' Being a marine allows these feelings to be expressed, legally. 'And that's what's tempting about being a marine. And that's why I sort of surprisingly fell in love with even becoming a marine just for film.'

'When you get a lot of guys, even when they're actors, in a tent - you put 14 guys in a tent in the desert for five months - it's surprising how... similarly they will act like marines'. Jake fell for Tony Swofford's 'regret and appreciation' for his marine life, which were mixed up in this 'beautiful prose' and 'I fell in love with that... I could just empathise somewhere.'

The British interviewer points out to Jake that Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead opened in the UK within a week of each other, which gives Jake the chance to say of Brokeback: 'I think it is the most beautiful love story of the year... It's bigger than us all... It's bigger than box office and awards... It means you can mix genres, you don't have to contextualise everything and keep things in a box to feel comfortable about it. That anything is possible, this movie kind of says to me and that's why I think it's really, really beautiful.'

It's also interesting to hear Jake not really being able to make up his mind about whether this run of golden films has opened up more opportunities for him or not, 'Yes and no'.

And finally...

...This interview is now available again on YouTube so watch it while you can:

Includes pictures from IHJ, Just Jared and Getty Images.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Jake - 'We're the closest thing to an Italian family without being Italian'

It took Sam Mendes four months to decide if Jake Gyllenhaal was the right man for Jarhead. '"Yes, frankly, I did initially have some doubts," British-born Mendes says. "I pegged him as one of those drippy, sorry, American indie-film boys, a bit too doe-eyed and whiny to pull this off. Which was unfair of me."' Tony Swofford himself was impressed by Jake in an instant: "It took me almost 10 years to level with myself about the type of guy I was in Desert Shield. [Jake] got it immediately. So I see myself in the manic behaviour. But, of course, I never looked as good doing it."

It's well known how Jake failed to impress at his initial, informal audition for Jarhead, having already attracted Sam's attention on stage in London: 'Mendes thought of Gyllenhaal to play Swofford after seeing the actor onstage in London in the 2002 play This is Our Youth. The two later met at Mendes' apartment, where, at the kitchen table, Gyllenhaal read two emotional scenes. His performance fell flat. Afterward, Mendes served sandwiches and watched Gyllenhaal doggedly fight the urge to go down on his knee and beg to do the audition again. Instead, they small-talked, and the actor went home.'

The filming itself was hard, after long physical and mental preparation: 'There was usually always - like when the oil fires were going on, we had two real fires in front of us and we had oil raining on us and then in the background, and then they filled that in, but everything that we're in is all real. So it was burning hot, those fires, and they didn't use real oil, but we had like molasses, basically, so we had all of that dripping all over us all day. In terms of the explosions and things like that, they were happening, and then they would add them - the far background. The foreground and initial background was all real, and then the far background was computer-generated, so as actors, we were pretty much in the real thing all of the time. There was never a moment where they were like, "oh, don't worry - we'll drip oil all over you in post."'

To Jake, filming Jarhead, and the role of Swoff, was a step away from the kind of roles audiences were accustomed to see him play. This was partly due to the creative freedom granted to Jake by the director: '"I just tried to take risks, and Sam allowed it. He made me feel my ideas are intelligent and correct, and now," Gyllenhaal adds wryly, "you can't sway me from that."'

'These days, Gyllenhaal wants to reinvent himself. He wants to drop the loopy, disaffected image he has perfected in arty movies such as "Donnie Darko" and "The Good Girl," as well as his people-pleasing ways, and become, well, more selfish. "I think I've spent a lot of time [worrying] about how people perceive me rather than doing what I want," he says. Gyllenhaal tends to talk in circles and can be hard to follow, like the instructions on a new toy made in China. "I'll go into situations and fit right in, and that's sort of where I'm coming out of. I'm tired of fitting the way I think everybody thinks I should fit." Gyllenhaal credits "Jarhead" with setting him on that path.'

The soldiers themselves had to grow up young: 'As much issue as I have with our current situation, [as far as] the troops themselves, it's extraordinary what they do. I mean, at my age, I'm still figuring out who I am. When you're 25 years old or in your early 20s, and even younger than that, you're figuring out who you are, and when you're put in situations that they're put in and doing the things that they're doing, within that discovery I think it's just the bravest you could be.'

After Jarhead, would Jake have made a sharpshooter? '(laughs) I don't think any of them wanted to see me doing it. I mean, I dug a great foxhole (laughs).'

In addition to information on how Jake approached Jarhead, these interviews include other gems. In USA Weekend, Jake let on about what it's like around the Gyllenhaal family table: 'The actor grew up surrounded by creative types with "big personalities." His family was loud at the table and never short on opinions. They debated Reaganomics and environmental issues over farmer's-market-fresh food. "We're the closest thing to an Italian family without being Italian," says Gyllenhaal, whose mother is Jewish and father grew up in the Swedenborgian church, a traditional Christian faith from Sweden. "We're all verbose, so it's hard to get a word in edgewise. You have to claw your way around." Gyllenhaal learned early that in order to get attention, he would have to perform.' Jake is also informative: "if you drive a hybrid, you don't have to pay for [meter] parking anywhere."

Some time ago, I posted a link to an audio interview with Jake, in which he described how, for days after filming ended, he came across sand on his pillow - 'it invaded me'. Here is the video to go along with it, which begins with an 'exposure check'.

And while I'm posting videos, here is a video interview with Jake from a French source, in which Jake discusses how he prepared himself mentally for the role and how he worked with the real Swoff to do justice to the character.

Jake and Beth Grant

While finding information for this feature on Jarhead, I stumbled across this Q&A session for Donnie Darko, with Jake and others from the film. I knew that Jake had known Beth Grant (who played Kittie Farmer) for years, but here we discover that Jake's casting had a big influence on Beth taking the role and Jake says 'I used to play naked in their pool with [Beth's] two nieces. Two beautiful blonde twins. Things have changed. (Laughs)' Now there's a thought.

Beth says of the film 'It's honestly my most favorite thing I've ever done, it's my favorite movie, I must have seen it fifteen times, and Richard, I know I'm so Kittie Farmer right now, I loved this cut so much... Richard is a great director and he knew what he wanted in every scene and he got the freedom to try things and do new ideas.' Jake says: 'But it was an amazing experience for me and a familiar one too because this was hopefully not the last time that I work with my sister, but everyone sort of became family from that experience and I'm so proud of it.'

Earth Day

Thanks to I Heart Jake for posting New Old pictures of Jake and Salma Hayek from Everything's Cool and Earth Day in 2005.

Includes pictures from IHJ.