Take the awkwardness of shooting a sex scene, combine it with the anxiety of meeting a longtime crush, and you'll have a pretty good idea of the predicament Jake Gyllenhaal found himself in when he made the 2002 film The Good Girl with Jennifer Aniston.
During a recent appearance on Howard Stern's Sirius XM show, the actor looked back on the ups and downs of filming intimate scenes with Aniston — "It was torture… but it was also not torture," he said — and revealed a "technique" they employed to keep things copacetic.
"I do remember a pillow," Gyllenhaal said. "Yeah, the pillow technique was used. That was just preemptive, and used — generally, always — when actually in a horizontal place in that movie. Everything else is whatever it was. I remember those two characters did a lot of making out on like, boxes in the back room." (The Good Girl starred Aniston and Gyllenhaal as two disaffected retail workers who cross paths in a small Texas town.)
Everett Collection Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal in 'The Good Girl'
Stern then asked Gyllenhaal, who can currently be seen in The Guilty, if "the pillow technique" was "a Lee Strasberg kind of move," referring to the famed drama teacher who popularized method acting.
"I think that was actually a Jennifer suggestion," Gyllenhaal said. "I think she was actually very kind to suggest it before we began… She was like, 'I'm putting a pillow here.' That was it, that was all she said."
Before the pillow talk came up, Stern asked Gyllenhaal about having a crush on Aniston back in the day, and if he gave the Friends star a heads-up prior to shooting by saying something like, "'If you're feeling something, protrusion or whatever, I can't control this."
Gyllenhaal laughed off Stern's word choice — "protrusion" — and explained that love scenes are rather technical.
"Weirdly, love scenes are awkward because there are maybe 30, 50 people watching it," he said. "Maybe if you have a closed set, it's less. That doesn't turn me on. Most of the time, it's oddly mechanical, right?"
"You're a professional," Stern offered.
"Yes, and also it's a dance," Gyllenhaal said. "You're choreographing for a camera… It's one of those things — it's like a fight scene, you've got to choreograph those things, and I always have tried."
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