Jake Gyllenhaal Goes to the "Source"
Hot, blue-eyed and hunky actor Jake Gyllenhaal just romanced Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs and has played the “Prince of Persia” to prove his action hero capabilities. In his new brain-twister movie Source Code, Gyllenhaal plays Captain Colter Stevens who is in a “loop”, being constantly sent back to re-live the recent past until he identifies and stops a terrorist bomber. Of course, on the way, he meets a doomed gal on an ill-fated commuter train and falls in love. Talk about complications!
Don’t you just hate it when you have to do the same thing over and over till you get it “right”? We’re asking Jake if that’s how he felt when he first read the script for Source Code.
TeenHollywood: What did you think when you read the script? Did it feel like that old movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray just re-living the same day?
Jake Gyllenhaal: Well, I read the first fifteen pages like you would watch the first five minutes of the movie and I was completely engaged. [The script was] so vivid and visceral and I remember it even sentence by sentence There was a lot of clear logic to it. But in making the movie, we all knew that the only way the audience would be engaged is with variation [with each “trip” back to stop the bomber].
Duncan [the director] would come up to me and say: “Make it weirder. Treat everyone like they’re a computer game. Make it even weirder. Respond to them even stranger.” And because we had these clear-set rules, we could then vary it.
TeenHollywood: What would you like to imagine other Jakes are doing in other realities right now?
Jake: What's amazing to me and my life so far is that choices and regrets and triumphs if you chose to listen to them are the greatest lessons of all. Right now I would be running the LA Marathon. Things like that and, I would be winning it.
TeenHollywood: I think the love story really ups the stakes for your character. Michelle Monaghan really played that well.
Jake: Yeah. What happened was [the story] really started to change when Michelle was cast. The love story was a big question for all of us particularly how big is the choice that he makes at the end? And though it does feel like a big choice and there is a very emotional, romantic aspect to it.
Michelle and I and Duncan chose to make it go from a guy who is not able to ask this girl out for coffee to a guy who [can]. He has to get blown up a number of times in the process [we laugh] but taking those risks [for her] feels like this big thing. I was involved in those choices. Also, she's amazing with improvisation. So we created a lot of things from that.
TeenHollywood: Re-doing the same scene with slight variations must have been like an acting class in a way for you and Michelle. Was it?
Jake: Yeah it was. All the Source Codes [different trips to stop the bomber] and in particular the [isolation] Pod felt like real acting exercises. A lot of the time I was acting with myself. We wrote different responses which I would say to Michelle [on the train] to make her feel not as uncomfortable. It was an acting exercise every single day. It was great fun because of that and great fun because Duncan really lets his actors go. He lets his actors do what they are going to do and he has confidence in them. So it was kind of like an acting exercise and it made it incredibly fun.
TeenHollywood: This story is so mind-blowing. Did it expand you own way of thinking?
Jake: I tend to be a little bit out there in terms of the way I like to look at the world anyway. Sometimes I’d be alone in the isolation pod set and I was talking to myself. I was back kind of being a kid where you take a bottle and [talk to it] like (in a child's voice) “Oh, hi! Nice to meet you.” So you make this imaginary world. So whenever you delve into your imagination like that, it expands your mind.
TeenHollywood: What would you do if you knew you had less than a minute to live like you do in the film?
Jake: The irony is that when I saw the final cut of this film all of the things were just happening in Japan. That makes me think about it all the time. I would wish there was a computer program, that actually existed. I wish there was a 12 or 13-year-old kid who will be a genius in the future who sees this movie and thinks it’s so cool they wish they could invent something like that.
I would love to be able to go into someone's body and warn them of some major disaster. If I had a minute to live I would probably call my family and try to have a good laugh because it's nice to laugh entering and leaving.
TeenHollywood: Good point! Were you always concerned about whether what was happening would make sense to the audience?
Jake: Of course. I needed to know, first and foremost, that the science was at least conceptually logical. There are electrical impulses in the brain. The idea that within the last eight minutes after someone died, there would still be electrical impulses that you could kind of usurp and use made sense to me. A scientist could come up with a computer program that allowed one body to connect with another body in that period of time. So that made some sense to me.
TeenHollywood: How did this role change you personally and professionally?
Jake: Well I trusted my instinct wholeheartedly on this film. I read the script, I responded to it. There was something that connected in my unconscious and in my heart, in my head and it all kind of seemed to work in terms of the story and the character. I just knew I could do it. There was a confidence that came after I finished it. It kind of starts to swell up inside you when you read something and you know you’re trusting your instinct. Compromise is a big thing about being an adult that I’ve learned.
TeenHollywood: There are funny elements in the film too. Did you add that?
Jake: My character is the audience’s eyes, so in order to be a step ahead of everybody we had to respond to the skeptics in the audience. The comedy element came out of us questioning parts of the story. Saying “What is the Source Code?” There’s got to be a moment when you’re like: “What?” So because of that it allowed for a sense of comedy. I also think in tragic, strange, sad moments in life, there is always comedy in those moments. My favorite moments are the comedic moments
TeenHollywood: Are there any moments in your own life that you’d like to repeat and possibly make a different decision?
Jake: I’ve lived a blessed life. In the wake of something like what is going on in Japan, even around the world, I can’t think about something that I would want to go back and re-live in my life, because my life has so far been pretty extraordinary.
Imagine if you had the ability to go back into a nuclear scientist’s body in Japan or eight minutes before something would have happened, you could warn thousands of people what was going on. That’s what I would use it for.