Whatever we need to do.'"With all that time spent talking about himself, it's probably no surprise that Gyllenhaal is keenly aware of how he's perceived.So, she'll be very thankful that we met over lunch." Indeed, Gyllenhaal grew up in a Hollywood filmmaking household — it's long been part of his persona that his father's a director, his mother's a screenwriter, and his sister's also an actor — so this kind of abashed media self-awareness can seem baked in.
But earlier this month, over lunch at a lively Italian café in downtown Manhattan, the 33-year-old actor took a break from shooting his newest film — the contemporary drama Demolition — to speak with Buzz Feed News. "But thank you for caring about me; my mother is the same way.
"I love this movie," he said of Nightcrawler while diving into a bowl of pasta. She's always like, making sure that I've been fed, you know?
There are two slight problems with that narrative, however.
One, Prince of Persia and 2004's spectacularly dumb The Day After Tomorrow are the only two massive Hollywood spectacles on Gyllenhaal's resume — the rest are challenging, director-driven features with more (relatively) earthbound budgets.
So much so, in fact, that when asked later on about how much his celebrity has interfered with his ability to do his job — especially when he's gone out to shadow real people for a role (the LAPD for End of Watch, or freelance local news videographers for Nightcrawler) — Gyllenhaal didn't quite understand the question at first. "All of the entertainment industry that we're involved in, in a way, it's a pittance," he said of his experiences shadowing those who deal with life-or-death situations. And I think that's a really great thing." There is a popular media narrative about Gyllenhaal's recent career choices, and it goes something like this: In 2010, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time — a mega-budgeted, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced video game adaptation starring Gyllenhaal, that was meant to launch a new franchise for Disney — crashed and burned at the domestic box office.
Stung by his rejection as a blockbuster leading man, Gyllenhaal forsook crass Hollywood extravaganzas and returned to the well-regarded, little-seen world of independent film to shore up his bona fides as a Serious Actor.
And two, Gyllenhaal doesn't quite see his career unfolding so schematically."I just felt myself moving away from those types of characters, really," he said.
"It's not about not doing movies like Prince of Persia, or big movies — it's just about being able to get deeply into a character, no matter the size of the film."So would Gyllenhaal still be interested in, say, joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
"Not more than anything else," he said with a shrug.
"I mean, there's no hierarchy of interests for me." If Gyllenhaal comes off as tepid about strapping on a superhero suit, it's probably because he prefers a much looser artistic experience.
That same year, Gyllenhaal also starred in the deeply weird and creepy psychological thriller Enemy as seemingly twin doppelgängers, one a nervous and fearful professor, the other a cocky and louche actor — and both equally convincing.