"[...] "So, Reese and Jake, you didn't meet making the movie?"
Before either star can respond, their exasperated director, Gavin Hood, dramatically yells, "No!"
A master of comic timing during the entire hour, Gyllenhaal waits for the laughs to subside before adding the obvious, "Wow, that was rough."
Meanwhile, Witherspoon points out, "I've actually known Jake for years," but her voice is lost in the giggles.
And that was that on the subject.
As Witherspoon's first major film since her Oscar-winning performance in "Walk the Line" the actress admitted it was the story structure of "Rendition" that she found most intriguing.
"I think the challenge of doing an ensemble piece is that your story line is so short that every scene you are doing is sort of a pivotal moment in that character's journey," Witherspoon says. "So, everything was sort of heightened and very dramatic."
More daunting, though, was an in-your-face scene with the Laurence Olivier of American film, Meryl Streep.
"Definitely, the ride to work that day was nerve-racking," Witherspoon says. "But, she was wonderful. She's completely intimidating, completely professional, had a thousand ideas. She definitely makes the film, um, I dunno, what am I trying to say, Peter?"
"She makes the film better," Saarsgard deadpans as the crowd chuckles.
Exactly. And while Witherspoon was dealing with the specter of Streep, Gyllenhaal's role as a young CIA analyst trying to justify the torture of a man under his watch became increasingly hard to research. Most CIA agents he spoke to off the record would only give technical information and not the emotional background he needed for his character. So, in a way, the Oscar-nominated actor from "Brokeback Mountain" went the Cliffs Notes route -- he watched other movies on CIA agents.
"'The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,' which is a merging of the alcoholic and the spy," Gyllenhaal recalls. "And then also, 'The Good Shepherd,' actually. Which I think, just a little shout-out to Matt Damon, that's a pretty incredible performance. More about, the less he does then the more he does -- and that's the kind of performance that I look up to. So, I just tried to copy it."
And once again, the "serious" movie's press conference is filled with laughter at the brazen honesty of Gyllenhaal's comment. The whole day is recapped with Sarsgaard's sarcastic zinger to his co-star, "Nice."
"Rendition" opens nationwide Oct. 19".