A chat with Jake Gyllenhaal about his latest film Nocturnal Animals (in theatres Nov. 18) quickly turns into a discussion about love, marriage and what to expect when dating a creative type. How could it not? The noir thriller from fashion-designer- turned-director Tom Ford, stars Jake, 35, as a man who channels his feelings about the end of his marriage into a novel, which he then sends to his ex-wife (played by Amy Adams).
“I have to be honest,” says the Oscar-nominated actor, whose past loves include Kirsten Dunst, Reese Witherspoon and Taylor Swift. “It wasn’t a long shoot, but after a while, I was like, ‘This is exhausting!’”
But it’s all part of the script for Jake. Raised by director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, the leading man says he was always encouraged to express himself. He also counts his sister, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, among his biggest fans.
In this interview with Hello! Canada, Jake shares what it was like to grow up as a little brother, the reason he wanted to be part of Nocturnal Animals and the question his mother asks him the most.
Jake, what drew you to your latest role? I’ve played a lot of characters that were driven and strong, and this character wasn’t those things. I think there is this strange wish fulfilment with actors where we are like the characters that we play.
In the case of this, maybe there was something closer to my personality that I didn’t necessarily want to look at. At this point in my life, my own vulnerability and my own sensitivity are things that I no longer feel like I need to make excuses for.
Where do you think you got your sensitive side? It was always there. My mother always talks about how she always wanted to make sure that the sensitivity that I had was never taken away. She always encouraged being open to the world, and just keeping your heart open, regardless of judgment.
You said a few years ago that any successful marriage, even if it doesn’t last, creates ideas. Does that hold true in relationships as well? Every time we get together, I feel like you really want me to get married. [ Laughs] It’s going to happen. I promise. You are equally annoying as my mother! [ Laughs]
The idea with my parents, specifically, was that they were allowed to be who they really were and are. If we can be that model, then that is ideal. It’s really great for children because they should be allowed to be who they are.
When you were growing up, did you feel like you fit in? Oh man! I probably wouldn’t be here if I felt like I fit in. But my confidence comes from being a little brother and having survived my sister! [ Laughs] Having a really strong older sibling made a difference.
What’s something you weren’t so good at? I have always had really bad eyesight, so I had these really big glasses that I wore. I was into athletics, but I remember I played catcher and every time I would rip my mask off, my glasses would come off. I could never throw to second base. I would have to always figure it out! [ Laughs] But I was always creative.
Did your parents give you advice about making it in showbusiness? They never sat me down for a conversation like you see in bad movies. When I was a little kid and I was performing, they would come to every show. It’s what I cherish the most, knowing that artistic expression has always been hugely encouraged.
I [recently] did a show at New York City Center. Before the show, my father sent me a poem and my mother wrote me a beautiful letter. I was about to go onstage and I had to keep it together, having read the things that my parents had expressed to me – so that’s the encouragement.