In his new film, Rendition, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a CIA analyst who gets pulled into overseeing what is known as an ”extraordinary rendition” — the capture and transportation of a suspected terrorist by the U.S. to a friendly Arab country so he can be interrogated outside the bounds of American law. (The suspect in the film is an Egyptian national married to an American, played by Reese Witherspoon.) It’s quite a dark and mature role for the actor who once played the title role in Bubble Boy. EW.com met up with Gyllenhaal at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday to discuss Rendition and talk about how the actor’s Toronto experience has changed over the years.
So I’ve got to ask the generic opening question — what was the thing that attracted you to Rendition?
I think it was at first something about the character. It’s always something about the character.
He’s very quiet.
Yeah. I think, if I’ve succeeded in the role, I’ve become somewhat invisible. It’s not hard in the cast [of actors] that I’m among [chuckles], but that was my intention, I think. This is a guy who doesn’t really want to be seen, and doesn’t really want to be dealing with his life. So he’s gone off to another place and got involved as a CIA analyst, and then he’s forced to deal with [the husband’s rendition and torture]. But even then, I think it’s sort of begrudging. Even when he does something humanitarian, I think it’s begrudging. I don’t think it’s about right or wrong, or seeing something that he can’t handle. For me, it was never about that. I think it was about seeing something that doesn’t work, saying something, like, ”Okay, I’m watching someone be tortured, but it just doesn’t work, so let’s get him out of here.” It’s just a simple decision. It’s not like, ”Wait a second! This is wrong! What do I do?!”
There are a lot of scenes where you’re very still and quiet watching something horrific unfold.
Well, I believe that people who see these things, who are involved in situations like this, don’t have an emotional response. I mean, everyone’s different, obviously; it’s totally relative. But when you see something like this happen, just as a body would go into shock, it happens to him. In all honesty, I would’ve liked to have seen more of him where you see him really struggle with that outside [the interrogation room].
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