Three cheers for Jake Gyllenhaal.
The 33-year-old actor has Toronto buzzing with his portrayal of Louis Bloom — a ruthless, ambulance-chasing crime photographer — in the forthcoming Nightcrawler. Gyllenhaal stars alongside Rene Russo (who plays an equally cutthroat TV-news producer) and Riz Ahmed (who stars as Bloom’s oft-hapless assistant) in a creepy, darkly humorous take on the world of Los Angeles crime journalism.
All three actors were feted ahead of the film’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday evening, where Grey Goose hosted a small private party for the cast and crew at Soho House. Gyllenhaal, looking dapper in a navy suit, arrived around 7:30 p.m. in great spirits, smiling, laughing, and taking pictures with his co-stars, Russo, 60, and Ahmed, 31. The actor is a TIFF favorite (and regular), having premiered two critically acclaimed films — Prisoners and Enemy — at last year’s festival.
After the intimate bash, the stars hopped in awaiting cars and traveled on over to the Elgin Theater for the main event. Despite the sudden change in weather (think 85 degrees and sunny to rain and thunderstorms), fans still clamored to get a view of Gyllenhaal from the street. Ever the professional, Gyllenhaal hit every news outlet on the red carpet before making his way inside the theater… and on time, too!
[Related: Toronto Critic’s Pick: ‘Nightcrawler’]
Nightcrawler writer-director Dan Gilroy took the stage a little past 9 p.m. to introduce the cast. From the moment the curtain opened, the audience was clearly enamored with the film, which is centered on Gyllenhaal’s calmly manic performance (the actor lost 30 pounds and a little bit of blood to play Bloom). To get a sense of Nightcrawler's hold on the crowd, consider that only three people got up from their seats during the two-hour flick to go to the bathroom — possibly a new Toronto record.
Following the screening, Gilroy and the three stars hopped on stage for a brief Q&A, although one audience member’s question stole the show: ”Are you really that weird?” one woman asked Gyllenhaal.
Gyllenhaal and Russo at the Nightcrawler premiere.
Jake, without missing a beat, quipped back: “Yeah I’m actually that weird!” The audience, of course, ate it up, roaring with laughter.
"Yeah, I’ve just been looking for a role for the past 18 years that really was the closest to me," he continued sarcastically. "People have debated it over roles that I’ve played, but I really think this is the one. This is the one that is closest to my personality. Thank you for finally asking the question I wanted anyone to ask in the audience today.”
The he turned to his co-stars: “How weird are you guys?” he asked Russo and Ahmed, the latter of whom gave a little glimpse of what Gyllenhaal was like on-set.
[Related: TIFF 2014: Red carpet style ]
"I have to say," noted Ahmed, "when I first started doing this with Jake… he’s like, ‘I’m gonna lose all this weight’ and all this stuff, and I was thinking, ‘What the f—k is he doing? What does that have to do with anything?’…we’re all eating food and he’s eating chewing gum for dinner, and I was like, ‘This guy is crazy.’"
"Now watching the film, I understand what he was doing, and why he had to take that character to that [place], Ahmed said, before turning back to the audience. "And he was really weird.”
Audience members will get their own chance to be weirded out by Nightcrawler when it hits theaters Oct. 31.
Photo credits: Getty Images
Watch the trailer for Nightcrawler below: