Conference call with Jake Gyllenhaal, star of



Taylor Malatesta

On Thursday, March 9, Sony Pictures Studios hosted a conference call during which ten student journalists from different colleges and universities interviewed actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who discussed his new film, “Life.” Gyllenhaal, who was friendly and cordial throughout the interview, eagerly answered our questions and spoke passionately about the project. He described everything, from the filming process and thematic elements of the film to the bonds he formed with his costars, including Ryan Reynolds. 

“Life,” a sci-fi, horror film directed by Daniel Espinosa, focuses on the journey of an international space crew that discovers life on Mars. They must overcome many challenges when the life they have discovered on Mars comes aboard their space ship and threatens their survival. 

Gyllenhaal, drawn to the excitement, tension and thematic depth of thrillers, has a tendency to take projects that are entertaining and suspenseful but that also have a deep thematic center.      

“Tension is what creates anything interesting in storytelling,” Gyllenhaal said., “and it obviously can come from anywhere. But I’m always looking for something that I can hold on to in my work on a daily basis that has something with a little more depth than just the tension of a story. So I’m always looking for those two elements to be within one piece.” 

Certainly, for Gyllenhaal, “Life” struck a perfect balance between both of those elements.

These elements, however, were not the only things that drew Gyllenhaal to this part.  In fact, Gyllenhaal was the last one to come aboard this production and allowing him to see the cast and crew assembled proved a significant draw for him.  “The crew was already assembled, they were an incredible crew, and the script was just enthralling,” Gyllenhaal said. “Daniel [Espinosa] came to me and we were talking about a character and how he wanted to make the movie. Ryan [Reynolds] was already involved, I adored the cast already, and I thought it was such an interesting thing. And they were shooting in London and I love London, there were just a lot of elements that worked.” While everything was seeming to fall into place for the film and Gyllenhaal grew to become more invested in the picture, what ultimately brought him aboard was director Daniel Espinosa. 

“Daniel Espinosa has a way with commercial material but also really, like I said before, loved his actors. He understands the type of actor I am, and really gave me space,” Gyllenhaal said. According to Gyllenhaal, he needs a “longer runway so to speak in a scene,” and with Espinosa he was given that time and space, that runway, in which to work and develop his scenes based on his needs as an actor.

The challenges of filming in such an environment were mitigated, Gyllenhaal said, by the fact that he and his costars had an amazing crew and set of coaches to work with and learn from. “We had an incredible movement coach on this movie, and she is someone who worked with Eddie Redmayne when he did ‘Theory of Everything,’ and works with him often,” Gyllenhaal said. “When I say incredible people worked on this movie – I mean really. We had incredible people.”  These people also worked specifically for with each actor in a way that honed their understanding of movement and the environment in which they were filming in. “We worked with doctors who had been in space, doctors who worked with astronauts, everybody specifically to what they did,” Gyllenhaal said. “And we had a movement coach studying footage from a lot of the other people on the international space stations, how they moved, and then going back to our own backstory in terms of why we were there, and our own personalities, whether we were more insular or more something else. Whatever our qualities were and how we would move in zero gravity, we wouldn’t all move the same way.”

While all the physically challenging preparation and training that went into creating the film, as well as the film’s dark and often serious subject matter and thematic elements, could easily make filming more tiring and sobering than enjoyable, Gyllenhaal assured us that this was one of the most fun films he has ever made. “I’m not used to having as much fun as I had on this movie,” Gyllenhaal said. Despite the serious nature of the film, the cast still managed to break up the darkness and heaviness by using plenty of laughter as a way to strike a balance between having fun and taking things seriously.  “The thing about this film and a lot of things about the space films that I have seen, they’re very serious,” Gyllenhaal explained. “Some of them, like ‘The Martian,’ I guess is funny too, but I think this one in a way takes itself seriously because it’s very beautifully made, and at the same time I think when you have a cast of people, particularly someone like Ryan [Reynolds], like I’ve never laughed so much on set before. I think you have to be aware when you’re in a movie that’s a big fun movie, that you’re aware of the reality and the non-reality of the situation, and so is the audience, so it’s just part of the deal. It was just walking that line and then hopefully having a great editor which we did have, to calibrate all of that.” While walking that line and being conscious of the reality between what is film and what is life is crucial to finding that balance and enjoyment, as Gyllenhaal stated, what the real source of entertainment and enjoyment was none other than Ryan Reynolds. “Honestly whenever you have a movie with Ryan Reynolds in it, it’s going to be funny – particularly this one,” gushed Gyllenhaal. “He just inevitably is an extraordinary comedian. I think that it’s part of his extraordinary talent. I mean someone could ask me about Ryan Reynolds because I just gave you like the most positive, cliché actor response at how great I think it is. But, he adds a lot of that [humor] to it.” 

Ultimately, what makes this movie fantastic and worth the watch is, according to Jake, the people behind it. For Gyllenhaal, the talent is what drew him to this film and what makes it unique and original. 

Certainly, with talent like Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, as well as a director as gifted as Daniel Espinosa, working on a film like this, it is bound to be exciting, fresh and compelling. Be sure to catch “Life,” which premieres on March 24, in theaters.