If there’s one movie you see this weekend, actually if there’s one movie you see this year, it should be Nightcrawler.
The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo & Bill Paxton and takes the viewer on a wild ride introducing them to the world of nightcrawling. Gyllenhaal gives his most demanding and electrifying performance yet as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling – where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.
For the film, Jake lost over 20 pounds to give Lou the appearance of a coyote. Throughout the film, you come to a point when you begin to see yourself rooting for Lou even though he does many things wrong. We had the chance to sit down with Jake, Rene and writer/director Dan Gilroy to talk all about the film.
First, we sat down with Rene & Jake to discuss exactly what good the viewer can learn from Lou. The role of Nina was written for Rene by her husband Gilroy, so we had to know if that was more daunting than having to audition for a role. Jake also discussed some of his strengths as an actor. Watch the video interviews below. For even more insight into the film, keep reading below for highlights from the roundtables.
In the middle of the movie, the audience seems to start cheering and rooting for Lou even though he’s doing horrible things. Why is that?
Dan Gilroy: It’s interesting, as I started to write the script, I discovered, oh my god, my hero is my villain at the same time. So I went back and looked at other movies that did that and saw Scorcese did it with King of Comedy and I thought Nicole Kidman did an amazing job with it in To Die For. The one thing I thought those films did successfully, I didn’t want people while they’re watching the movie to say, oh this is a movie about a psychopath. You’re always trying to keep a connection between the character…trying to find the humanity of the character and I know Jake was always looking for that in the acting. I feel all of us have a bit of sociopath/psychopath in us.
How did you go about creating Lou’s look for the film?
Jake Gyllenhaal: It starts with the script, the way he spoke, the punctuation, I followed it to a tee. I memorized the script like a play. [Working on End of Watch which we filmed in LA in 28 days helped prepare me for this film which we filmed in LA in 25 days for a similar budget]. I started memorizing it really early because he talks so much. As I started to do that and talked with Dan about the character, we talked a lot about coyotes. At night, the wild animals that come out at night in this metropolis that are trying to survive. Dan was an influence on me, I knew that Lou was a part of him somewhere and then I just started picking up on things. I just thought, he’s a coyote, he’s hungry…[And the tying the hair back?] That’s just something came up. I said to him, what if when he’s doing stuff and he’s preparing he would just put his hair up. He has long hair, he doesn’t want it to get in the way, what if he thinks he’s a ninja. Dan loved it and it just happened. I’d always be like, “it’s ninja time.” Also the idea of driving in Los Angeles with your knee at like 100 mph while putting your hair up, I just loved it.
You’ve done so many dark roles like Enemy, Prisoners, this…are you craving some levity or are you taking what comes your way and running with it?
Jake: It’s more about my experience with the people I’m making the movies with. I believe in the universe so I believe that things come to you and that they’re saying things, whatever job you do. Those are the sort of people that have come to me who happen to be, ironically some of the sweetest people I’ve ever worked with in my career. The process of these have been some of the happiest times for me. I also have this feeling that exploring darker areas illuminates them.
Nightcrawler opens in theaters October 31, 2014.