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Interview: Jake Gyllenhaal for "The Day After Tomorrow"

By Paul Fischer Saturday May 29th 2004 11:07PM
Jake Gyllenhaal for "The Day After Tomorrow"

Some celebrities are reknowned for looking very different in real life, but not Jake Gyllenhaal. I had the chance to speak with the 23-year-old young man, best known for roles in much-loved indies "Donnie Darko" and "The Good Girl", this past March in the northern Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys.

The charming and down to earth guy still seemed like a kid around his age but well grounded. Sporting a nearly full beard, the only really striking difference in reality is that yes his head physically seems a smite too big for his lithe but fit frame, yet on camera it's not noticable and in person it makes no difference - he's still a looker with such a full head of hair that this average joe was insanely jealous.

Renowned for being very honest in his answers early in his career, the system has obviously had some time to work its way into him and so he's understandably more guarded now than before, but he still comes across as an easy going guy who was more than happy to brave an hour or so with all of us in the coldest room in all of Los Angeles - the 30F (-1C) degree temps of a deep freeze of an Ice Factory where his new film "The Day After Tomorrow" had its final trailer premiered on a wall of ice. Once the clip was over, Jake took turns with outlets ranging from ET & Access Hollywood to IGN and little ol' me for a few minutes to discuss the environmental disaster epic and how it affected him.

Have the environmental issues brought up by the film affected you at all?

"Since being in this movie I've realised how important the issue of the environment is, even though it seems like an innocent non-partisan issue, it is not as innocent as I thought it was when I took on the role. I've learned from a lot of people, including scientists who visited the set when we were making the movie, that it's incredibly political and it's finding itself a lot of news coverage because of that".

What was it like shooting all those snow scenes?

"When we filmed the movie, we were shooting Montreal and it was like negative 30 degrees Celsius outside continuously in the winter. We would go from the outside to the inside stages where we were filming and it would be like 70 degrees inside, actually pretty hot. We all had layers and layers of clothing and were just dripping sweat, and all be faking the cold. But I think it will look very cold when you see it, it's a very cold movie".

You've probably been offered other action scripts, what drew you to this one?

I think the biggest thing about this movie is that it was always was unlike any action movie I've ever read or seen. At the very end of the movie, there's not some guy shooting down the enemy, or shooting a laser to stop the meteor, you know. It's much more complicated than that and I think it's really about the human race. I think right now what'll cause a lot of stir and fascination amongst people about the film is the idea of a single person being their own antagonist or saviour is a really great idea. It's not about simplistic good or evil, it's more complex than that.

What would you say were the most difficult and fun sequences to shoot?

The most difficult was running away from wolves that didn't exist. The hardest sequence I think, we shot like two weeks in a tank full of water with 700 extras which is that scene of the wave that comes over. By the end of week one, people weren't getting out of the tank to go to bathroom, they were doing it right in the tank so that was in its own special way, the most difficult scene that I shot (laughs).

What was Roland Emmerich (director) like to work with?

Honestly, a really sweet wonderful man. He gives himself the time to be calm, he gave himself a buffer on this movie especially - a couple of days that he could use on his own. He respected me so much, if we wanted to do things over and over again...I think even at one point we wasted a whole day cause I didn't feel like something was really working and we wanted to work on it and make it work. So he's really cool to work with.

What was Montreal like to shoot in?

It's funny because we didn't get to see much of Montreal cause we were on stages all the time. We had a few location shoots, but most of it was in soundstages. It's a beautiful city, what I saw though.

'Day' will hardly be the last we see of Gyllenhaal who recently landed the coveted role of "Jack" in Focus Features' adaptation of Brokeback Mountain. The film, which chronicles an intense relationship between two Wyoming stockmen, will be directed by Ang Lee and costars Heath Ledger. The high-profile project will go into production this summer.

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