Sep 09, 2007 04:30 AM
"When it came to committing to play a CIA analyst who finds himself a reluctant but complicit witness to torture in the forthcoming thriller Rendition, Jake Gyllenhaal was sold on something that might hold a special allure for a movie star.
`"I liked the fact the guy was invisible."
Sprawled over a chair in a well air-conditioned hotel suite, Gyllenhaal, 26, is basking in relief from the stifling room in which he has just done a dozen or so consecutive TV interviews.
There was no air conditioning in that room and the fan was on the fritz, but for appearance's sake, the Academy Award-nominated actor was compelled to keep wearing his natty suit jacket and open white shirt collar ensemble.
Though that hardy qualifies as torture – and certainly not compared to that endured by the Egyptian-American chemist whose sudden, CIA-sanctioned abduction to Egypt is what propels Rendition across three continents, several characters and a gamut of competing political perspectives – it was uncomfortable nonetheless.
First thing in the new room, Gyllenhaal strips down to trousers and a V-necked T-shirt. Second thing, he muses on where he took his inspiration from.
"Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," he says with a laugh, only to instantly adopt a more serious demeanour. "I'm not kidding. I learned a lot from that performance about how to play a guy who's invisible. And who's silent."
"But I hope people don't walk out of the movie cheering for the guy," Gyllenhaal observes.
"Because he's just one guy. And what I really liked about this script is that there's no right and wrong, at least as far as my character is concerned. There's only does it work or not? And since he thinks the methods aren't working, he sees no point in them. And who knows if what he ultimately does really does anything anyway?"
The son of TV director Stephen Gyllenhaal and Losing Isaiah screenwriter Naomi Foner (his sister is actress Maggie Gyllenhaal), the actor grew up in a liberal-leaning, Democrat-supporting household in Los Angeles. "I get about 15 emails a day from my mother," he laughs. "And each one has links to all these political blogs she thinks I should check out."
But while he's not reluctant to admit he's political, Gyllenhaal does insist that politics and performance should be strictly chaperoned when they get too close – lest one take undue advantage of the other.
"What I really liked about this script," he says, "And what I really admired about Gavin (Hood, Rendition's South African-born director) is that politics is secondary to the human story. And as an actor I'm always interested in the human side of politics. The thing about this movie is that everybody believes they're acting out of the best intentions. They all think they're doing some kind of good. And they're all acting on what they've been told.
"But who's to say what you're being told is the truth?" adds Gyllenhaal. "I think people question whether they're being told the truth in situations like this. And who can blame them? Even worse, a lot of people have even lost the want for the truth."
For Gyllenhaal, that's the issue: not that people are being lied to about what their governments may be doing on their behalf, but that they may not care.
"I heard somebody say recently that people actually prefer ignorance," he says. "I know I do a lot of the time. The truth can be painful."
If Gyllenhaal took a lesson away from making Rendition, it was what the filmmaker told him about art and politics. Gyllenhaal describes him as "robust, energized and very wise and very political" – and very wise. "He always said to me how important it was for him as a filmmaker not to judge. People tend to see artists talking about politics as a kind of judgement. And then you've lost them". Source: Thestar.comJake attending the US Open (Men's Final Championship Game). Pictures by Iheartjake.com