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Jake Gyllenhaal on Prince of Persia

Published June 1, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Walt Disney Pictures
Jake Gyllenhaal turns action hero in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Normally known for intense character roles like Brokeback Mountain or Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal stepped into a whole new kind of acting for this summer’s epic.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Prince of Persia


“It’s a very physical role, and I’ve always found myself inhabiting a role starting from the physical level,” Gyllenhaal said. “Whether you’re changing the shape of your body and losing weight, gaining weight, you’re figuring out what the character would look like on a physical level. So for this it was very physical, which I love, which I’d never really done this intensely before. But I don’t think it’s any different at all. When you’re committed, you’re committed, and as soon as I decide to be in a movie or play a part, it’s 120 percent commitment no matter what.”

When you put that extra 20% in, part of it always sticks with you. “In one way or another, every character you play is based somewhere or with some understanding of where you are in your life, some understanding of that. But with Prince of Persia and getting to know David Belle and learning parkour and being as physical as I was, now I wish I was British because I feel like I’m proficient enough at a British accent, that there are hopefully those vestiges I do keep. Occasionally, I do throw out a British accent at the dinner table with my family. So yes, they do stay with you, and this one definitely has. I do always carry a sword, and I keep the dagger of time and I’ll use it at this press conference if there are any weird questions.”


Prince of Persia Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time


Prince of Persia Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

As is the tradition nowadays with action actors, Gyllenhaal did a lot of stunts himself. “It always varied. It got a little bit dicey towards the end because everybody saw that I liked doing things that were a little bit dangerous and so we tried our hands at things that were pushing it a little bit. I think in the end there was this fight towards the middle of the movie that we shot at the end with my brother where he has an axe and I’m fighting him with my sword and a shield that I have left, and we really got dangerous with that fight. There were a few times when the axe came so close to my face almost that everyone was like, ‘Oh, that was so good!’ And I’m like [whimpering]. So definitely that axe fight was an intense one, and some of the jumps got pretty [tough.]”

Some of those moves may sound familiar to fans of the video game, but the filmmakers made sure not to go overboard. “We had that pressure on our shoulders the whole time, but yet at the same time, I think transitioning from making a video game into a movie, I think Mike [Newell] and Jerry [Bruckheimer] from the beginning said anything the Prince does has to be based in some kind of reality. In fact, there were times on set when we would do some sort of stunt that mimicked something from the game, and Jerry would say, ‘Well, wait a second, why did he do that? We need to have that be based in the storyline,’ and everything had to be based emotionally in the storyline, so we’d have to come up with a reason why he flipped upside down over a horse. And we did.”

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is out in theaters now.

For the photos, trailers, posters and more movie info, go the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Walt Disney Pictures
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