Thursday, 31 July 2008

'Jake's a thinker' - Jim Sheridan discusses Brothers

In the Spring 2008 edition of the DGA Quarterly, Jim Sheridan, director of My Left Foot and, of course, Brothers, discussed his 'cinematic sense', his instinctive feel for filmmaking and his relationship with actors, as well as the differences between American and European cinema. Here, at last, we get to hear something about Brothers, and about the different acting styles of the three Brothers' leads - Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and one Jake Gyllenhaal.

'Sheridan’s mention of mythic Celtic fathers segues into talk of such mythic and afflicted brothers as Cain and Abel, a story that is crucial to his latest film, Brothers (due for release in late 2008), which is based on the 2004 Danish film written and directed by Susan Biers. He had been very moved by that film when he first saw it, intrigued by the themes of intense love and lethal jealousy between two polar opposite brothers—one a career military man, the other a lifelong screw-up who only comes into his own by caring for his brother’s family after his super-achieving sibling goes missing in Afghanistan and is declared dead.'

'Sheridan realized transposing a Danish drama for an American audience could be risky. “You can’t just microwave something,” he says emphatically. “You can’t just reheat it.” The challenge is to find what works best in the story about Americans, for Americans. “There are rules that apply to American cinema that don’t apply to other forms of cinema,” he explains. “In a Danish film, people can get drunk with impunity. They can leave their kids at home unattended while they go pick up their brother in the bar. In an American movie, you’re not allowed. Americans are different and the rules are different. So, all the time I’m consciously working within a framework of American storytelling.”'

'“I’m not even sure actors are directable. I think the more you know, the less you try to direct them. The more you just try to not impede.” The goal is to encourage spontaneous discovery in the act of making the film. Working with children on In America, he engaged them by letting them call “Action!” and “Cut!” With Daniel Day-Lewis (with whom he’s made three films), or Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman in Brothers, his method of rehearsal is less about running lines than engaging in a Socratic back-and-forth, exploring what’s on the page with an open mind, asking and being asked about character and story points. He is extremely comfortable at being challenged.'

'“I invite a certain dissonance with the actor,” says Sheridan. “Most times, you want the actor to push back. Daniel is so focused, so organized that he’s like a balance for my chaos. He will just do it exactly the way I imagined it when I was writing, without having to ‘direct’ him. Natalie is a very classical actress, very sure of where she’s going—her only difficulty was her tremendous young age, being 26 years old and playing a mother of two, but she made the stretch. Tobey’s very controlled, a thinking actor. Great actors on film, you always know what they’re thinking. Jake’s a thinker too, but more like me, questioning everything, improvising. But actors generally have got to be allowed to push back, otherwise you’re just trying to fit them into a pictorial composition.”'

With a big thanks to Xenia for the link. Pictures from IHJ.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Hot and time for a drink

Despite possibly flimsy rumours that Jake Gyllenhaal is back in Los Angeles, it is very likely that Jake is in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco swashing his buckle and giving body and expression to Prince Dastan. Whichever way, there's a pause while we wait and see what he is making for us.

So, in the meantime, I thought I might take some time out and pause to share a drink with Jake. This has absolutely nothing to do with it being a very hot and sticky night here, perfect weather for sitting outside a bar, watching the crowds gather for some outside Shakespeare, and letting the time pass with a cool, iced cocktail. Nothing to do with that at all.

Most famously, Jake has been seen enjoying the effects of a glass or two of red at the pre-Oscar CAA party back in 2006, an occasion where Ang Lee had his hands full with a star who wanted to be in every shot.

Generally, Jake has never been one of those stars seen out every night of the week in the nightclubs of LA, NYC or London but there have been exceptions and these have been special. For instance, during the filming of Jarhead, Jamie Foxx won an Oscar, and if that's not an occasion for a celebratory drink I don't know what is. Jake talks about it here and how he was 'super-excited' for Jamie and so only had an hour of sleep. Well worth the 'wobbly' legs next day.

A memorable scene in Rendition is when Douglas (or Jake) is sitting in the bar in North Africa and he takes solaces from the situation he is facing in the shots on the table in front of him.

And in Zodiac, a great example of Jake's comic timing can be seen with the blue drinks - the Aqua Velva. These high-colour cocktails - seemingly so out of character with Robert Graysmith - are perfectly used tools by Fincher and the scriptwriters, for a moment drawing us away from the dangers on the roads and lakeshores of southern California.

And then there's Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, who grew closer and shared a whisky bottle by the fire.

As far as choices of beverage go, Jake was asked once what his favourite tipple was, to which he responded Stella. An excellent choice...

Big thanks to Ruby! Includes pictures from IHJ.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

'Nailed was a blast' and Jake's a winner - 'Can I touch it?'

It's not surprising that with all the gems being uncovered on the net for Prince of Persia, putting us in no doubt that this is going to be a movie of big proportions, there's been little time recently for any of Jake Gyllenhaal's other forthcoming roles. And we're in the fabulous position of having more than one on the way.

An interview with the young actress Jenny Gulley, who is appearing in a US version of Little Britain, reveals that she also has a role in Nailed, as Brenda, the waitress friend of Jessica Biel's character, the one with the nail in her head. Jenny's verdict: 'Nailed' was a blast... It was one of the funnest sets I've ever been on.' Tracy Morgan has also been explaining his role in Nailed recently but this is so full of spoilers that I'll leave it to the link! Suffice to say, however, that a medical dictionary may be a requirement for audiences when (I trust, when) Nailed reaches our screens, alongside the popcorn and Ben & Jerry's.

Trip back to 2006

I've also not had much chance for Jake nostalgia lately, so I thought I'd put that to rights today, and have a look back to February 2006 and Jake's BAFTA win - not what happened on the stage of the Odeon (the same cinema where the premiere of The Dark Knight took place last week) but what happened off it.

Here is an account by BAFTA guest and comedienne Janey Godley of what happened at the Grosvenor Ball, an event that was attended by the enormously and justly proud winner of a gong, Jake Gyllenhaal: 'The show finally finished and we got a car to take us to the ball at the Grosvenor Hotel. As we were walking down the stairs, Jake Gyllenhall [sic] was standing alongside us, clutching his gloriously gold BAFTA award. A lady beside me asked him “Can I touch it?”'

'Jake smiled and held it to her to touch; we all slowly kept making our way slowly on the stairs. He smiled at me and I said “Can I stroke it?” He politely held it to me and I added quickly “No…not that!” and he laughed out loudly and people around us laughed. He then opened his expensive black jacket and said “Help yourself” So I stood there and giggled as I stroked his very toned chest!'

'He then lifted up the back of his jacket and grabbed my hand and put it on his ass and added “You want some of this!” I kept laughing, his smile was huge and he obviously has a good sense of humour. I told him I was a stand up comic and he answered “I love stand up, wow what’s your name?” We chatted a bit more and then reached the ground floor entrance to the ball. What a guy, we then posed for a picture. I was well happy!' The picture that Janey took is tiny, but at least she has one. I wouldn't mind learning more about her encounter with George Clooney in the gent's loo that night (there is another picture from that).

Jake wasn't just a hit amongst voters, comediennes and partygoers, the press loved him too: 'There was no doubting the press pack's favourite winner of the night - Brokeback Mountain star Jake Gyllenhaal. A warning "not to salivate or sigh too much" when he came in the press room went largely unheeded, and he was greeted with whooping and cheering when he returned with co-star Heath Ledger and director Ang Lee. Gyllenhaal turned the table on the hacks with a question of his own. "I have a question for the radio people," he announced. "I was looking for a little hip hop in the car [on the way to the awards] and I could not find any." Well, even a Hollywood star's gotta relax those nerves somehow. A chap from Radio 1 suggested he try his station on a Friday night. Not much help on a Sunday though, is it?'

And here is another account of that memorable day: 'Jake Gyllenhaal, of course, full of the exhuberance of youth and what not, played his nominations the other way. "Every film you make you assume you're going to get this response, so for those that don't it's all a bit underwhelming!" And what of being in the soggy British weather? "Man, I love it. Britain is worth it. I feel I've always been embraced by British audiences in particular, doing This Is Our Youth on stage and then when I came for Donnie Darko. It's just great to be here."' I love a man who appreciates British weather.

Jake had to beat not just one George Clooney but two to get that award, but Jake had nothing but admiration for his foe: 'Having snatched the Best Supporting Actor gong from under the nose of “The George twins,” as he labelled Clooney’s double nomination in the category, Gyllenhaal had nothing but praise for the Syriana star. “He came up to me on the red carpet and said ‘You’re so gonna lose.’ I gave him one of those,” Gyllenhaal throws a mock punch. “George has such courage as a filmmaker, when you consider the position he’s in, he doesn’t have to work like that but he does it from the heart.”'

Winning the BAFTA put a huge smile on Jake's face and, in addition to carrying the award itself home on the seat next to him on the plane, someone else recalls: 'I’ll note that it was also moderately exciting to be flying back to Los Angeles last night on the same plane as Jake Gyllenhaal. He was seen at baggage claim, clutching his BAFTA award for his performance in Brokeback Mountain.' Although I have no idea why it should be 'mystifying' that Jake should be travelling on the same plane as Justin Timberlake.

And here we can enjoy Jake's (and Ang's) words backstage just after receiving his award.

Includes pictures from IHJ and links.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Prince of Persia's evil Vizier tells us we're in for 'something beautiful' - and Maggie's in Japan

The Prince of Persia may be a year off our theatre screens but we are very lucky to have all these little snippets of information and tantalising glimpses of what is in store. And today there is more. The dastardly Vizier Nizam himself - aka Ben Kingsley - has been talking to Empire about his summer job, which involves this guy:

It sounds like Ben has been doing some serious brushing up on his videogame knowledge - a bit like Robert Downey Jr and Maggie Gyllenhaal on superheroes and it's so good to hear Ben describe how the project is coming together in a manner that is 'quite beautiful': 'We’re bringing to it all the scrutiny that a great myth would deserve... It’s quite wonderful being around the table discussing the video game – which I’m aware of but don’t know anything about.'

'It’s really quite beautiful how it's building up with all our actors, with the writers sitting there, with the director sitting there, it’s really holding up very well. Most of my stuff is with Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the Prince (Dastan), and I’m a father figure who lets him down very, very badly in the film. I’m the villain actually. It’s interesting because his own father dies early in the film and I take over and I’m completely manipulative.'

'Well, it’s really lovely to be working on something that is obviously hugely popular... Jerry Bruckheimer, who did Pirates Of The Caribbean, obviously knows what he’s doing and Mike Newell is a wonderful director. You know that patronising attitude that some film-makers have where they dismiss people as a stupid audience? Well, Mike isn’t going to do that, he’s going to give them something beautiful.' And when you have an audience full of Gyllenhaalics, they're going to be ready for that 'something beautiful'.

The Dark Knight reaches Japan

Meanwhile, Maggie and others from The Dark Knight have reached Tokyo and, yet again, Maggie is a stunner, this time in a striking orange dress by Jean Paul Gaultier. Incidentally, in this first picture, the guy second from the left is the man we could not identify at the London premiere a week ago today, so if anyone knows who he is, I know I'd like to know.

In this video, you can see Maggie on the theatre stage discussing the film and her character. This looks like a very different affair to the London event.

Includes pictures from IHJ and Just Jared.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Prince of Persia: 'It's gonna look like no other place that you've ever seen before'

Some time ago, Prince of Persia director Mike Newell gave an interview about how he envisages Jake Gyllenhaal's new film, and the exotic world that this 'great big adventure love story' evokes for him. 'It's gonna look like no other place that you've ever seen before and it's going to be about a wild, strange time in history, when the world was full of mysteries and magicians and shamans.'

This is all backed up by a completely unsubstantiated but nonetheless tantalising comment left yesterday on IMDb: 'I have seen him as the prince and he is fantastic. The fight scenes with the Hassansins at the farmhouse on the rock are gonna be awesome!! And Jake is a real prince, you will see him with his makeup and long hair, his costume, he is awesome.' Sometimes a year feels longer than a year when you have Jake's prince at the end of it...

With thanks to T.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

PoP to be an 'emotional journey' - with Jake, an inspirer of sighs

All those of us who have struggled gamely through (some of) the levels of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time have always called the Prince the Prince. And this has been wise, because it is best not to become too attached to a Prince that, at regular points along his perilous journey, you have caused to be impaled, stabbed and splattered. He's always polite each time you kill him, inviting you to put him through his paces yet again, maybe this time avoiding the drop to certain doom, but nevertheless, best not to name him.

But Disney, now that it has removed our control over the Prince's fighting reflexes and springy feet, thinks its Prince of Persia stands more of a fighting chance against monsters, vertical drops, collapsing palaces, snakes and scorpions, evil uncles and frisky heroines. So they've given him a name and now we know that the chosen name - Dastan - means Trickster. And having seen the dangers the Prince faced in the Sands of Time game (and having needed more than one printout of handy hints to get me through), it's going to take more than the Prince's trademark tricks with time to get him to the end.

The reason behind the choice of name was just the one of the things revealed about the project by its screenwriter and producer, Jordan Mechner. Speaking in San Diego at Comic-Con, Jordan showed that, if it had not been for the 'lure of a Disney/Bruckheimer big budget summer film' being "too hard to resist"', we may have had no real life Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince, but instead an animated feature with some starry voiceover.

Jordan made it clear that the film will stick to the original Sands of Time and not to the less successful two sequels. Also character development will be central: "You want to be taken on an emotional journey... You want to care about the characters." 'Mechner did say that the film, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan, will have a large cast of characters and have a much larger scope then just running around the insides of a single palace.' Mecher also echoed the recent words of Jerry Bruckheimer and said 'he was very pleased with the cast that has been assembled for the film'.

Thanks to visiting Flickrs we can get a glimpse of one of these sets, located where another summer blockbuster was filmed, Gladiator.

Another site reports that Jordan did address the matter of why a western (albeit a sensationally gorgeous and gifted one - I added that bit) actor was chosen for the Persian role: '"Yeah, they looked at a huge range of actors," he said. "There are hundreds of great actors that could've done the job, but you end up picking one."' Well, if you have to pick one actor in the world....

And here we learn that 'Due to secrecy, [Mecher] would not reveal what powers the prince might have in the movie or discuss key plot elements. He expects the film to be rated PG or PG-13 and for its level of violence to be along the lines of other summer blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean.'

A piece of Jake

Last week, British singer Adele was interviewed for the Sunday Mirror and she mentioned that she was a big fan of a certain part of Jake Gyllenhaal's anatomy: 'I like a good back. I like Jake Gyllenhaal’s back. In that film with Jennifer Aniston, The Good Girl, when he’s banging her, his back was so fit, even my mum was like, “Wow!” So a good back and a sense of humour. I don’t like fit boys who aren’t funny. I’d prefer an ugly boy who was really funny.’ Fortunately, with Jake you get fit and funny. Admittedly, all this is slightly mitigated by Adele also admitting to fancying Chris Moyles, but it's good to hear that both Adele and 'even' her mum know a good back when they see one.

So, any excuse gratefully grabbed to search out some of my favourite pictures of some of Jake's favourite pieces - I should point out, however, that I have not included Jake's face in this post because there is not enough broadband width in the world for that much appreciation (having said that, a couple of favourite face pictures are included above, in the PoP section of the post).

Jake's arms particularly look good when they're working and doing useful tasks - such as carrying a bike over his head. Always easier than wheeling it along the ground, I've found.

It's no secret that I'm not a foot person - unless the feet are wrapped in Nike or knee-length black leather riding boots - therefore this was more of a challenge.

By contrast, I'm very fond of Jake's other extremities.

Sometimes, a glimpse is all you get and all you need.

Sometimes we get a bit more...

Jake looks good from side to side...

...and from back to front.

Legs - just no end in sight.

Have I missed a bit?

Finally, this video presents E!s sexiest movie star No 8 - Jake Gyllenhaal - in which you can see Jake flirting with cameras, interviewers and fans, as well as uttering the classic lines: 'Who wants a piece? How are you?' (before giving the interviewer a peck on the cheek), 'I feel sexy, yeah, I do feel sexy' and 'I do like getting naked on set.' But why no.8, eh?

Includes pictures from IHJ and links.