Jake Gyllenhaal Made a Key Revision to the ‘Prisoners’ Script to Make His Character More Mysterious

"It’s not like a bad script that became a good movie," Gyllenhaal said. "But sometimes you just add on to things, and they become totally different from what was written on the page."
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Jake Gyllenhaal attends the "Strange World" multimedia event at Picturehouse Central on November 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)
Jake Gyllenhaal
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images f

Jake Gyllenhaal has made quite the career out of playing sleazy, threatening, and generally weird men. He’s a master at contorting himself into the kind of guy that you know has something wrong with him, but you just can’t put your finger on what. While his physical appearance and acting chops go a long way toward creating that effect, Gyllenhaal is more than willing to get involved in the writing process to make his characters weirder.

Appearing on “Hot Ones” to promote his role in Guy Ritchie’s “The Covenant,” Gyllenhaal recalled his experience working with Denis Villeneuve on “Prisoners,” which turns 10 this year. The twisty thriller sees Gyllenhaal playing a detective trying to track down two missing girls while one of their fathers is determined to seek his own form of vigilante justice. The role of Detective Loki was prime Gyllenhaal material, but the actor explained that he requested some changes to make the character even more unsettling.

“The character was written one way, but I could see the essence of something else in it,” Gyllenhaal said of his first impressions of the script. “In the first draft, it was a character that was much more kind of strait-laced. He was much more trying to find an answer. The ‘trying to find the answer’ thing was the most interesting part of it. I don’t think the outward trappings of it were as important. But to me they became important. I wanted the character to be a mystery — but determined — so the audience had two things going on at the same time.”

The actor also clarified that he was always a fan of Aaron Guzikowski’s original script and didn’t see himself as trying to impose a different vision onto the project. He simply saw his additions as adding extra layers to a character that would make it more interesting for him to play.

“And so to me, it’s not necessarily like a bad script that became a good movie,” he said. “But sometimes you just add on to things, and they become totally different from what was written on the page. But still with the same intention.”

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