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Jake Gyllenhaal has played several memorably intense characters over the years, from the troubled teen of 2001’s Donnie Darko to the obsessive reporter of 2007’s Zodiac. But in the forthcoming thriller Nightcrawler — an exclusive clip from which you can watch above — he plays one of his most disarmingly driven creations yet: Lou Bloom, an ambitious, eerily upbeat Los Angeles videographer trying to break into the lurid (but lucrative) world of crime-scene reporting. It’s a gig that requires a fearless disposition, deep focus, and a slippery moral code — and, luckily, Bloom’s just the man for the job.
In this exclusive scene, Bloom meets a superstar local-news producer (played by Rene Russo) who will wind up being one of his best clients — not to mention one of his obsessions. If the 33-year-old Gyllenhaal looks different here than he did in his Donnie Darko days, that’s partly because he lost nearly 30 pounds for the role, often running 15 miles a day to prepare for shooting. All that work seems to have paid off: Nightcrawler earned rave reviews at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and even spurred awards talk. We’ll see how intense things get when Nightcrawler creeps into theaters Oct. 31.