A few weeks ago, Street got to speak (Ed. note: well, over the phone) with Jake Gyllenhaal to talk about his space thriller, Life, also starring Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson. The movie came out on March 24th, so read some of Jake's thoughts right here and then go check out Life!
Dalton DeStefano, 34th Street Magazine: Hi Jake! One trend that I’ve noticed, about a lot of the projects that you’ve taken on over the past few years is that they're kind of these thrillers that are suspenseful and entertaining but also kind of have deep thematic content, like Enemy, or Nightcrawler, even like Nocturnal Animals from last year...do you think this movie kind of falls in line with those? In that, it’s kind of half–thriller but also kind of has a deep idea at the core?
Jake Gyllenhaal: Yeah, I mean essentially tension is what creates anything interesting in storytelling. And it obviously can come from anywhere. But I’m always looking for something that I can hold on to in my work on a daily basis that has something with a little more depth than just the tension of a story. So I’m always looking for those two elements to be within one piece. I also do really like the darkness of the world. Maybe somehow I always find minding that gives me something more interesting to search into. So, maybe there are. I think I do have things that I enjoy playing, and this happens to be something that also is, like I keep saying, really fun. And so yeah! I think you’re onto something there. Now that you say that it will probably be on my mind and you’ll probably be like why is he making all of these other different projects now and you would have been a little bit a part of that! I don’t like to just do the same thing all the time, but it always has to have something somewhat interesting or political or emotional, as well as having a significant amount of tension that holds the audience’s attention.
Rashika Verma, The Emory Wheel: So over the past few years we’ve seen several projects from Gravity to recent films like Arrival, that show humans in space, like extraterrestrial life – what makes Life different from those projects?
JG: Well, obviously they all sort of take place in space. Ultimately this one is specifically sort of individual in that it’s all in zero gravity, first of all, which is sort of interesting, and I also think it’s more of in the genre of leaning more towards horror, in the way that it’s one of those stories. It’s a bit like Jaws, where you have a group of people trying to survive in a space but it also has to do with your classic, fun, horror genre type of storytelling, so it’s different in that sense. A lot of times in space movies I think it is ultimately about survival… But this is more terrifying in the classic movie sense that you’re used to in other atmospheres—in this case we don’t have an atmosphere and we’re all floating around. The coolest part about it really is that there are some extraordinary chase sequences that feel almost acrobatic as the result of being in zero gravity. There are also a lot of other elements that make it individual, I think, we have such incredible people working on it, or did have so many incredible people working on this film.
Latifah, Boston University: I was just going to ask what were some of the biggest challenges you faced while working on this film.
JG: I’m not used to having as much fun as I had on this movie. I tend to, for a lack of a better phrase, beat myself up playing characters that have recently been in pretty trying circumstances and environments in movies that have been pretty extreme, but this is a really fun one to make. So I don’t know if that’s really what you were expecting, but it is, for me. It’s also acting on wires. This entire film takes place zero gravity like I said, so we were on wires the entire time. We’re doing dramatic scenes literally floating around on wires. As an actor in particular, you’re taught in the stages of even learning how to do it, that finding your foundation and knowing where you are in the space with your feet on your ground is a big part of it. So to not have that was a really interesting, really fun way of conjuring feelings.
Kendrah Villisee, Columbia Chronicle: Watching the trailer there’s a bunch of you know, what you were talking about the horror and you said it was a lot of fun, and you said in the trailer that you had a couple of laughs, so how did you differentiate the balance between the two?
JG: Well, the thing about this film and a lot of things about the space films that I have seen, they’re very serious. Some of them like The Martian I guess is funny too, but I think this one in a way takes itself seriously because it’s very beautifully made, and at the same time I think when you have a cast of people who are particularly someone like Ryan, like I’ve never laughed so much on set before. I think you have to be aware when you’re in a movie that’s a big fun movie, that you’re aware of the reality and the non-reality of the situation, and so is the audience, so it’s just part of the deal. It was just walking that line and then hopefully having a great editor which we did have, to calibrate all of that. But honestly whenever you have a movie with Ryan Reynolds in it, it’s going to be funny—particularly this one. He just inevitably is an extraordinary comedian. I think that it’s part of his extraordinary talent. I mean someone could ask me about Ryan Reynolds because I just gave you like the most positive, cliché actor response at how great I think it is. But, he adds a lot of that, you know, I left it up to him. He’s a lot funnier than I am.