In the October issue of Out, we mentioned that there would be nude photos from Brokeback Mountain on Out.com. It turns out that these photos were unofficial, and thus cannot be placed on this Web site. We apologize for misleading any of the magazines readers.
Two years ago, Out named Jake Gyllenhaal as Hottest Straight Guy We Wish Was Gay. Well, he hasnt jumped the fence, but he is playing a gay cowboy in the movie Brokeback Mountain, which opens in December. We profile Jake in our October issue, and below are exclusive outtakes from the interview, which took place in New York City.
This has been a busy year for you, with three major movies [Proof, Jarhead, and Brokeback Mountain] coming out. What are you doing in New York?
Ive had the past couple of months off. I finished filming this movie Jarhead, and then I sort of took time off. Ive been hanging out with my friends. I havent really made it out to Marthas Vineyard that often. I sort of grew up there. All my best friends grew up there. Its a place we all go, or try to get back to wherever we are. Ive grown up there.
Is it true you were a lifeguard there?
Was there ever any drama around that?
No drama at all, besides between the drama amongst the lifeguards. Who got the far end of the beach, the near end of the beach. Who had to take all the posts down at the end of the day, that sort of drama. But, fortunately, not really any saving of lives. But we were prepared. Also, as any good lifeguard would say, Im glad that it never had to happen.
Okay, now for the Tiger Beat question: What did you wear?
What did I wear? (Laughs) Basically just a bathing suit, but no Speedo or anything like that. No Australian lifeguard bathing suit.
For Jarhead, did you have to do intense physical training?
We did a lot of training, I think for months before, and then we had about a week and a half of boot camp. We had a month of rehearsals and then a week and a half of boot camp. Actually, physically, because I was prepared for it, it didnt kill me the way I thought it might have. It was more kind of the mental game that was played there.
Did you have an in-your-face drill instructor?
Oh, yeah. We had that whole thing.
And now youre off to do a movie about the Zodiac killer?
Well be in San Francisco for four weeks, and then in L.A. the rest of the time. I play one of the guys who tries to find the killer. I play a cartoonist, actually. The man who wrote the books about Zodiac.
A killer wouldve been an interesting role!
Well, I think the interesting thing about him, and about all the people, is they had to kind of think like the killer in order to find him. I think ultimately thats what destroyed a lot of lives involved with the case. You have to look at the world the way they look at the world to be a step ahead and catch him. Its definitely going to venture into a dark side.
Which is not completely unfamiliar
Uncommon, for me, or unfamiliar. (Laughs). Without a doubt, Id really like to be doing some sort of romantic comedy or something next year, after this year. To get my head out of
The dark side?
(Laughs.) Yeah, right.
You have a couple of causes youre involved in, like the ACLU. You were in their advertising campaign along with other actors.
My moms been a member of the ACLU for years. Sometimes I was dragged to all the dinners before I even knew what the ACLU was. A few years ago, they honored my family, and they gave us the Torch of Liberty award, which was supposed to represent people who fought for freedom of speech. I think in a way it was more for my mother than for the entire family. We definitely have been taught that movies are a powerful medium and what you say with them can influence people, and I believe that. And people can think thats pretentiousand even I think its a little pretentiousbut I think its true. There are movies that have changed me and the way Ive looked at the world.
Speaking of movies, lets talk about Brokeback Mountain. What would you say that the movie is about?
The movie is about the inability that we have, and ultimately, the ability we have, to love. And that when you love, and when you really, really, truly love, that you fight as hard as you can to hold onto it. And the struggle that people have to do that. I watch movies all the time that are considered to be about love, or a love story, or whatever. A story between a man and a woman has become so clich. Theres movies you see now like Man finds girl. Man loses girl. Guy gets girl again. And the struggle is to find the girl, and we all buy into it. Ill speak for myself, I buy into it. And I try to make my own love I find in my life after those movies. Love stories have a huge influence on people.
Was there special preparation to play gay love scenes in Brokeback Mountain?
[Director] Ang [Lee] was very respectful of the love scenes that we shot. It was a very intimate process. We didnt have playbacks, we didnt have any of that. We were really like working organically. We did one or two takes of a lot of love scenes. Theres something about the awkwardness and the uncomfortableness of it As an actor I think we need to embrace the times we feel uncomfortable and oftentimes are the best performances that we give.
In terms of preparation for the movie we went to cowboy boot camp. Heath [Ledger] had actually been riding his whole life. But I hadnt really ridden that many horses and I wasnt very good at riding. We had to do that, we were putting up fence posts, we hung out with sheep, we herded sheep for a while, and I had to learn how to lasso and stuff like that. Ultimately, the work Im really most proud of is that I can lasso, (laughs) which is much harder than it looks. Its technically a very difficult thing to do, and do it right, and I think it looks pretty damn good in the movie. So Im excited about that. (Laughs)
During the making of the movie, you were quoted as saying, Every man goes through a period of thinking theyre attracted to another guy. Thats not something straight men talk about a whole lot. What prompted that comment?
I dont even think theres like a specific situation that I could talk about. Let me give you an example. You can be together with somebody. You can be in a relationship with somebody. And you can say theyre the only person that I want to be with. Like, I love them, Im in love with them, this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. But if you dont acknowledge that there might be, even if its not even a possibility in your mind, if you dont acknowledge, oh, maybe theres another girl that I could fall in love with, or maybe Im going to check people out on the street, you know what I mean. Were all human beings and we do. If I dont do that, it wont feed my relationship and the thing I really love. I guess thats sort of the idea that I was trying to put out there that, like, I think there are a lot of people who are unsure andthat comment has followed me around.
I bet it has.
For me its not a specific thing. Its more of an idea of
Its like it should be a part of sex ed. So someone should say, OK, like, nows the week where you go around, check this out and that out, what do you find attractive, compare this and that. And I think it would clear a lot of issues up for a lot of people. You know? And if it was just talked about, it would be a different thing. I think sexuality as a young kid is a very complicated thing. For everybody. And its mixed up and everybody has preference, straight or gay. You can divide people like that, but within that division are billions of subdivisions. I think people just need to be able to explore and be open. Thats what I talked about Secretary [which stars Jakes sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal]. Some people are turned on by sado-masochistic things. Others couldnt even think about that.
So same-sex attraction is not a part of your life and your history.
No. I mean clearly, hopefully, you can see Im not afraid of it.
Youve mostly done indie films, but you now have some big Hollywood movies under your belt. Where are you in terms of what you want to be doing? Do you want to be indie guy, do you want to be Hollywood guy?
I want an audience that wants to see the films that Im in. I want to be able to have recognition, and have people go, Oh, his movies coming out this weekend, and I want to see it, because I know every time I go into a movie, into a journey, its going to be an interesting thing. There are actors that I look up to that do that. Like Tom Hanks does that. Im interested in seeing his movies. Regardless. Its not only to be entertaining. Theres going to be something cool in it. No matter what. There are people whove done that for a long time. Paul Newman Those types of people that I really look up to as men that I want to be like. And thats the type of career that I want. I want a lot of people to want to see my films. It doesnt have to be enormous. But I do want that. I put a lot of thought into the movies that I choose and I do. Its for a reason.
I hear that youre also fairly active in terms of lines, rewriting.
I think its in an actors nature.
Are you a pain in the ass on set?
Um. Im sure there are some people who will tell you Im a pain in the ass. Definitely. I think the creative process is collaborative. And an actor wants to just feel like, because theyre in a more vulnerable position, they want to feel like theyre part of the process. Ang, like, gave both Heath and me so much room. A lot of roomit was almost like Action and it was like Do what you do, OK.
Whats next for you?
Im very proud of the films that I have coming out in the fall. Im very proud of the people Ive worked with and the experiences Ive had. I know somewhere there will be experiences from those experiences, and Im really excited to go to Venice, and go to Toronto, and enjoy the festivals there, and do press for these movies. And to talk about them and stuff. For me, like, theyre kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in a lot of ways. Whats next for me is really being able to enjoy whatever comes. Id like to learn how to just be even happier and enjoy everything thats happened. And hopefully more of it will happen.