Last month saw the trailer release of Daniel Episona’s 2017 film Life, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal. Judging by the teasers’ grand blockbuster aesthetic, this picture promises epic space melodrama, in the vein of Ridley Scott’s most recent contribution to the canon in his 2015 The Martian. However, despite the almost childlike thrills stirred by space odysseys, I was truly dumbstruck at the sight of Jake Gyllenhaal in yet another big feature production. Was is not two minutes since I was reeling from his extraordinary performance in Tom Ford’s creepy, slick little noir piece Nocturnal Animals (2016)? After doing some digging, I found that Gyllenhaal had starred in four substantial feature films in 2015 alone, all of them with considerable budgets and going on to receive significant box office success.
This new dawn of the Gyllenhaal is a far cry from Donnie Darko (2001) and Highway (2002), and not just in terms of reception. Both then and now, this is an actor who has consistently opted for the most challenging roles that demand chaotic and extreme reconfigurations of character, both mentally and physically. Over the years Gyllnehaal has seemingly effortlessly shapeshifted between sympathetic heroes (October Sky, Source Code, Southpaw), awkward twitchy underdogs (Moonlight Mile, Zodiac, Nocturnal Animals), flawed ordinary guys (Rendition, Brothers, Demolition) and charming yet sometimes villainous sociopaths (The Good Girl, Nightcrawler). Throughout his career, Gyllenhaal has refused to be type-cast and his annual metamorphoses has not gone unnoticed by the film world and international audiences. Let’s take a look at one of the most superb talents in Hollywood today as we count down Gyllenhaal’s top three most diverse, awe-inspiring performances.
In at number three is Zodiac, click to read more.