Close-Up : Jake Gyllenhaal

The truth is most of the films that make a lot of money no one remembers, and I’m not interested in making films that no one remembers.

Coming up to the opening of Source Code this weekend (in the UK and US, Finland will be graced on the 13th of May) I thought I’d be appropriate to continue split reel’s Close-Ups with Jake Gyllenhaal. (Check out the Ryan Gosling edition here.) From a scrawny showbiz kid to action star, Gyllenhaal has covered a wider range of roles before hitting the blockbuster scene; now he’s coming out with the most critically acclaimed thriller in ages, Source Code (currently at 88% on RT).

After getting small roles in tv-series and B-grade films, he hit the jackpot in signing on to the indie-classic Donnie Darko, playing a troubled, geeky kid with sinister undertones. He had soon become the weird, socially akward new kid on the block snabbing typecast roles. He followed Darko with Bubble Boy (playing the eccentric, immune-deficient boy in the bubble) and The Good Girl, where he gained more recognition starring with Friends-star Jennifer Aniston, but still playing the outcast, a store stock by who believes he’s the incarnation of Holden Caulfield.


Trying to break away from the image of the outcast, ‘the weird one’, Jake signed on to the smash hit (cashing in $544,272,402) The Day After Tomorrow, one of the first massive doomsday productions, where he played the lead along with Dennis Quaid. This newfound recognition lead him to his most famous, and probably his best, role to date: Brokeback Mountain. Starring with the now departed Heath Ledger, the controversial role gained him recognition, fame and respect all over the world; Jake Gyllenhaal had become a household name. After his cowboy-love portrayal he’s gone on to steadily open with good figures in over 2000 theatres in the US. But most important of all he hasn’t abandoned good stories in order to gain dollars (I’m counting out Prince of Persia here!).

He’s then gone on from war stories, to serial killers to the CIA, consistently bringing good performances in good, even great films. He’s now exploring the realms of the mainstream, from 2010’s action splash Prince of Persia : The Sands of Time to a romantic comedy stint with Anne Hathaway and now a heart racing thriller in Source Code, testing where he fits best. His next move is going to be an all-star cast comedy, Nailed. This is where Jake Gyllenhaal needs to make a career defining move, he can either continue to explore his boundaries in the mainstream, cashcow world or find where he fits in best (IMO drama/thriller) and make the most of it. His career development has very much mimicked Tobey Maguire‘s, coming from outcast roles to the unlikely-action-stardom, and now snabbing the coveted role of Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. I hope he makes the right decisions and doesn’t fall into the gaping hole of greed.

Top Picks

Donnie Darko (2001)

A surrealistic depiction of a teenager that doesn’t feel like he fits in, Donnie Darko, is Gyllenhaal’s breakthrough role and an indie classic that hasn’t lost it’s charm in ten years. The Director’s Cut is a must see, it explains the film in a way that you never saw before, it’s like watching it again for the first time. Gyllenhaal’s on-screen sister is played by his real-life sister Maggie Gyllenhaal.

A storm is coming, Frank says / A storm that will swallow the children / And I will deliver them from the kingdom of pain / I will deliver the children back the their doorsteps / And send the monsters back to the underground / I’ll send them back to a place where no-one else can see them / Except for me / Because I am Donnie Darko.

Jarhead (2005)

One of the best war movies ever done, Jarhead is an entertaining and at times funny story with a real serious core. Gyllenhaal plays Anthony Swofford a Marine fighting in Kuwait. The story is based on a book written by the actual Swofford.

A story: A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he’s finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son’s diaper; his hands remember the rifle.

Zodiac (2007)

One of Fincher’s finest moments, his real-events based story about the Zodiac killer shows Gyllenhaal as a newspaper comicbookartist that takes a deep interest in the Zodiac killings after the unsub sends a deciphered message to their headquarters. His character, Robert Graysmith, gets obsessed with the idea of finding the Zodiac killer and with his amateur investigation he starts writing a book about him.

Someone should write a fuckin’ book, that’s for sure.

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9 responses to “Close-Up : Jake Gyllenhaal

  1. Awwws, Jake is so darn hot you could watch him all day long.. I think he’s done loads of great roles. And I bet there are so much more to come! My faves top3 would probably be Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead.

    • Yeah he seems like a guy who’s going to get better with age, I just hope he goes back to ‘films of substance’ a bit more, I mean there’s nothing wrong with Love And Other Drugs but I way prefer Jarhead and even Rendition.

  2. I like Gyllenhaal and he seems like fun and witty guy when interviewed. And I likes Zodiac, it was very pretty. But I must say, I didn’t exactly like (didn’t hate either) Gyllenhaal on Zodiac. Funny thing…

  3. He does the whole “I look like a man but yell like a boy,” thing a bit, but he veers off from his ‘type’ once in a while. I like his calmer work in “The Good Girl” and his screwball-y yet his probably first adult role in the guilty pleasure “Love and Other Drugs.”

    And yeah, I need to see Brokeback. People would be asking for my gay card back if I don’t.

    • Yeah I know what you mean .. But I think he’s one of those that have a long career ahead of them -> a lot more to offer! Let’s hope I’m not wrong.

      Yeah you need to get on that! (No pun intended.)

  4. Ever since seeing him in Donnie Darko, I’ve been a major fan of Jake. I think he’s going to shape up to be a serious player now that he’s breaking into the mainstream with Love and Other Drugs and Source Code. He’s got natural charisma of a type that sets him a little bit apart from that of Damon and DiCaprio; I’m really looking forward to what he does next – USUALLY he picks decent scripts. Too bad the rumours of him being Spider-man never came to be.

  5. Donnie Darko is my all-time favourite, I have a tattoo to prove it ;O) Gyllenhaal is so damn hot, thank god he makes good movies; I would be happy just to see him staring at the camera…

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