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Anyone who’s seen the engrossing trailer for the upcoming thriller Nightcrawler will be struck by hints of Jake Gyllenhaal’s feral intensity in the role of the bottom-dwelling L.A. crime reporter looking for some unsavory scoops. Much has already been made of the 33-year old actor’s startling weight loss for the part. But hunger pains weren’t the only thing the actor endured. In a new interview with Variety he reveals a lot more about how much he suffered for this particular art:
He was very hungry. Gyllenhaal did indeed lose 30 pounds from his 180-pound frame. “I would try to eat as few calories as possible,” he said. “I knew if I was hungry that I was in the right spot.” Sometimes he wouldn’t eat at all, or simply eat tiny portions of kale, crackers, or meat. “It became a struggle for me.”
He exercised like an animal. Gyllenhaal would run 15 miles from his house to the Los Angeles set to keep his gaunt figure. He found inspiration in the wild coyotes that are often seen on the streets of L.A., thin and famished. “There was a general sense that he was a coyote… I just wanted to live that way.”
He took a pay cut. Nightcrawler is part of a string of smaller films Gyllenhaal has appeared in recently. “I don’t have my own family right now…. I have an opportunity to make those choices.”
He shed some blood. The actor gave more details about the on-set injury he sustained during an intense scene. “I hit the mirror,” he said of the moment, which was not in the script. “It was just a choice in that moment that happened.” Doctors at Cedars-Sinai had to stitch him up before he could return to work with his hand wrapped in gauze. When Gary Michael Waters, the CEO of the production company that’s financing the film saw the bandage, he asked if it was part of the movie. “They were like, ‘No, Jake went so deep, he hurt himself pretty badly,’ It was pretty f—ing gnarly.”
He took a scary car ride to see some up-close carnage. Gyllenhaal went on a ride-along with a real-life paparazzi ambulance chaser. “There was a car that went over the 101 Freeway down a ridge, and crashed into a wall… We arrived 30 seconds before the cops got there.”
He loved shooting the movie so much, he was mourning it before it was over. Gyllenhaal memorized the entire Nightcrawler script before he even shot the first scene. “I would always be sad when we wrapped a scene because I’d think, ‘That’s the last time I’m ever going to say the line, and it’s so good. It deserves to be said again.’”
Nightcrawler debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 5 and opens in theaters on Oct. 31.