There’s no doubt that Jake Gyllenhall is an extremely talented and loved actor, we’ve enjoyed watching him talk to an imaginary bunny in a theater and search for love in places he’s not supposed to, but we’re about to see him do something completely unexpected — lead a huge summer Jerry Bruckheimer film. The good news is, he’s not the only “real” actor in Prince of Persia, he’s surrounded by an impressive cast including Sir Ben Kinglsey and Gemma Arterton, but is that enough to make this blockbuster a success? We’ll see! Hopefully this won’t steer him away from any little indie gems in the future.
We had a chance to attend a video conference with Jake while he was in London and find out a little bit more about what it was like for him working on a Bruckheimer film with sets larger than life and enough extras to fill a city and how he prepared himself to be the lead in a huge summer blockbuster. You can read some of the highlights of the interview or watch the entire video of the interview below…
Were you familiar with the game before you got involved with the film?
Jake Gyllenhaal: I was familiar with the game since I was a young boy. I used the side scrolling version of the Prince of Persia, the original Jordan Mechner created version on the first Mac computer in elementary school, I remember doing that. And then I took like a 20 year hiatus from the game though I did know about it but I didn’t really play it that much, I played other games. Then when I read the script for this movie I took the opportunity and I started researching and I started playing the game and I got to know it very very intimately.
Despite the structure of making movies, what was it like that having the opportunity to play the lead of a game that you had played as a young kid?
Jake Gyllenhaal: Wow. In these past few days I was thinking, I wish I could go back and tell you know that 8-year-old kid who was playing the game that you know one day you know 20 some odd years later he would be playing the you know the lead in a Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster movie based on that video and game and just see how you know his eyes would pop out of his head, how excited he’d be. And for me that’s kind of how I felt when I was making the movie I felt like I was kind of unlocking that piece of my childhood again, it was fun every day, running and jumping and fighting bad guys.
You’re best known for your dramatic roles and how is it different for you to prepare for this kind of large scale action adventure as compared to those others?
Jake Gyllenhaal: Well it required a lot of technical work that I usually do in movies but this was learning how to do the rudimentary aspects of parkour, learning how to sword-fight which involved you know learning martial arts and having martial arts training and learning really complicated choreography having 2 swords that I use, learning how to horseback ride proficiently in a way that I could do stunts. Learning a British accent and on top of all of that.
On a movie of this size when you make a different choice like if you block out a scene for instance and you make a different choice in the middle of the day and you say well maybe I should be over here if you make that choice it affects a thousand more people than you know it would on a smaller movie or on other movies. It’s just the sheer size of it is like, I guess I could compare it to like going to a to a sports event you know like every day on set I would drive up to set; and there’d be 500 cars like lined up for 5 miles before you even got to set; and then you would get to the base camp of set and it would be like an army head set up camp; and then we’d get on to set and there’d be these massive sets built that were 250 ft high with like every intricate detail done so that they could shoot anywhere; and then 1000’s of extras I would get suited up every morning, it’d take 40 minutes to put on my costume. I had these crazy intense boots that I wore that were like all parkour style so that I could do the stunts, I had like I think you can see it on the poster all these different things that were attached to my costume and it took a long time. So it was kind of like getting prepared for some big sporting event.
Was it important when playing the hero of the movie to go up against you know a fantastic villain such as Nizam played by Ben Kingsley and what was it like playing opposite him?
Jake Gyllenhaal: Well you know that there are a lot of villains in this movie. They may be actually ones that you would never expect. There are, I would say there maybe 10 or 15 people chasing after the Dagger Of Time and not for the right reasons. But specifically, working for Sir Ben Kingsley its just incredible. I mean when you work with somebody of that level, that stature who has that amount of experience, that many years, has done such extraordinary work you know it’s kind of an actors dream come true. The interesting things about Ben, Sir Ben, is that he has a real childish play to him. I acted really like conservatively around him when I first started acting and he was like ‘come on’ ’cause you know he sits up really straight and you know he seems so regal but he really likes to kind of get down and dirty with his acting and so do I so it was great fun and a real honor.
Full video interview…
Check out Prince of Persia in theaters May 28th!