Jake Gyllenhaal was touching on the ultimate in thespian esoterica on Monday night: method acting.
“I think there’s a place in which you respect your own emotions and explorations,” he explained softly. “It becomes wider, deeper when you’re allowed to go in the dark. The irony is you can always bring light, you know?” Huh?
This story first appeared in the October 29, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Some context: the actor was on the carpet at New York premiere of “Nightcrawler” fielding press questions. The movie, hyped last month at Toronto International Film Festival, is a gritty noir thriller about Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a gaunt loner turned nocturnal ambulance-chaser. He’s an aspiring crime videographer who drives around L.A. trying to beat police to crime scenes so he can capture the gore before the yellow tape is strung. He unravels when his thirst for the grisly and graphic becomes obsessive.
Gyllenhaal inhabits the sociopathic antihero to a startling degree. He has the intensely vacant stare, the scary stilted smile. He’s twitchy, wired and socially awkward. His cadence is mechanical. The actor reportedly lost more than 30 pounds for the role on a diet of raw kale and sugarless gum. He was also (deliberately) semi-insomniac while filming.
Yet it seems Gyllenhaal has totally exorcised Bloom, or at least his grasp on the reporter mind-set. “That question’s redundant. Next question,” the actor responded when a reporter on the carpet asked what the strangest encounter Gyllenhaal’s had with a tabloid videographer (à la TMZ). A few feet down, another reporter brought up Taylor Swift, who had released her poppy new album “1989,” earlier that day. Gyllenhaal bristled, staring blankly at the reporter for a moment before sidestepping to the next one. (OK, fair).
“It’s always the question: journalistic integrity, journalistic responsibility, telling a story. How do you tell your story truthfully, honestly, in detail, and when do you intervene?” Gyllenhaal mused moments later, discussing where the ethical line in reporting should be drawn (this time in reference to the film, not TMZ).
The screening was fairly intimate with just the actor’s family — mom and dad Gyllenhaal and sister Maggie — and a few friends. Then Jay Z and Beyoncé showed up, predictably sneaking into the theater via a private entrance after the opening credits had rolled. There were hopeful whispers that the couple would stop by the after party at Stone Rose Lounge, but Bey and Jay were a no-show. Perhaps the couple was nervous about the permanent videographer stationed in the elevator at the afterparty (the Stone Rose is on the 10th floor of the Time Warner Center). As Bill Paxton put it earlier in the evening: “Most of the gnarly stuff happens between dusk and dawn.”