Jake Gyllenhaal opened up about how he prepared for his role in the Jean-Marc Vallee film, Demolition, including the aspect that terrified him the most.
Gyllenhaal, who stars alongside Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and Judah Lewis, said during a press conference at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday that the unconventional film played on his own fears, especially of some dancing scenes.
“He [Vallee] came to me and said, ‘We’re going to do a scene in a car and you’re going to basically break down.’ I said, ‘What? We’re on 86th Street and Madison Avenue,'” recalled Gyllenhaal.
“That’s his spirit. Feelings don’t come when we expect them too, so shoot the movie in the same way,” Gyllenhaal added.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 12, 2015
Based on a Black List script by Bryan Sipe, Demolition centers on an investment banker (Gyllenhaal) who finds himself in emotional turmoil after the death of his wife. The banker is in the throes of examining his life and where he went wrong when he meets a single mom (Watts) who rescues him from his darkness.
“It’s a story about a guy who begins the movie in a conventional way and ends the movie through an unconventional journey, feeling however [he feels], and not how society tells him to feel,” Gyllenhaal explained.
“That’s uncomfortable as an actor. It’s not what you’ve been told grief is supposed to be, but discovering as you go along. And doing it with him [Vallee],” he added.
“This breakdown moment, where this guy is saying he doesn’t feel anything to this guy on the train, and he becomes emotional when he says it, I liked the contradiction,” Vallee said.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 12, 2015
Gyllenhaal shared that Vallee often became emotional on set before Gyllenhaal was urged to follow suit with his character.
“Jean-Marc would come up to me before a scene with tears in his eyes, before my character had tears in his eyes. And he’d be there right with me, deep in wherever I was, or where he wanted me to go. He’d say, now come join me,” the actor recalled.
One way Gyllenhaal’s character moved through his grief was through dancing.
“I was always looking on the schedule for when the dancing was going to be. I was mostly just terrified,” he admitted to the presser.
Vallee usually began one of the dance scenes without prior warning.
“The first time I danced, we were on the train, and he [Vallee] said, ‘Okay, the train’s pulling in,’ and he handed me an iPod and gave me an earphone and said, ‘Are you ready to dance? Let’s go,” Gyllenhall recalled.
“At the end, I didn’t want to stop dancing, I made like a whirling dervish,” Jake Gyllenhaal said.
A U.S. release for Demolition is slated for April 6, 2016.