In “Demolition,” Jake Gyllenhaal plays Davis Mitchell, a man who goes numb after he loses his wife, Julia (Heather Lind) in a car crash in which he was the passenger. During most of the film, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Wild”), the “Nightcrawler” star displays almost no emotion on his handsome face.
Davis is a successful Wall Street analyst who works for his father-in-law (Chris Cooper). He seemingly has everything going for him until the fatal crash, and comes out of it as though in a trance. His behavior becomes increasingly bizarre as he starts taking things apart things to see how they tick. When his fridge leaks, he pulls the expensive unit apart and scatters it across his kitchen. At work the stall door doesn’t close properly, so he pulls it apart and lays it flat on the floor. His computer is next. But when he starts staring at his father-in-law’s antique grandfather click in his office, things start going out of control.
Jake Gyllenhaal on Demolition – ‘As an Actor, You Want to Emote’
“Demolition” becomes a portrait of a man coming to terms with his grief. The movie co-stars Naomi Watts and a phenomenal new actor, Judah Lewis, who plays her teenage son.
At a junket for the film recently in Manhattan, I asked the “Southpaw” actor what it was like to play a man who registers no emotion on his face.
“It’s hard as an actor. As an actor, you want to emote, just out of ego,” he said, adding, “You think expression is about emoting, but really expression can also take place in profound silences and sometimes in non-feelings as much as it is in huge, broad primary colors of expression.”
Gyllenhaal is a very busy actor this year with three movies slated for release in 2017. When it comes to choosing roles, he said, “I try and trust that somewhere – and this is going to sound lofty – but I trust that the universe is going to give me a clue because I picked something out that I actually believe in. So if I’m doing something I actually believe in, then I know that I’m going the right way and that I will get clues. It’s when I know I’m in the wrong way that I’ll be like, ‘Shit, they’ll be no clues! I’m lost!’”
Jake Gyllenhaal on ‘Stronger’ – Upcoming Feature Film on Boston Marathon Bombing
He’s enthusiastic about his next role in a film entitled “Stronger,” set during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing terrorist attack. Directed by David Gordon Green, the movie is based on the book by Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter.
“I’m playing a guy named Jeff Bauman who lost his legs,” said Gyllenhaal. “It’s really not a story about the Boston bombings. It’s a story about him and his then girlfriend (“Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany), now wife, and their journey through it. It’s a wonderful, quirky, really complicated family around him, and ultimately their love story, which with or without his legs would be just beautiful. So it happens to be about all of that. It’s actually funny. I hate to say, but it’s actually funny and he’s a lovely, really funny guy.”
To prepare for the role, Gyllenhaal visited hospitals, notably Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, and spent time with the patients. The prosthetic that attaches to Bauman’s, an above the knee amputee, is “mind blowing,” he said. “He has motorized legs and he can walk.”