Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with Jake Gyllenhaal

The star of Enemy can't stop gushing over his favorite films.

by | March 11, 2014 | Comments

Jake Gyllenhaal pulls double duty in his new film Enemy, which hits theaters this Friday, March 14. With great movies like Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, and Prisoners — in which he teamed up with Enemy director Denis Villeneuve for the first time — on his resumé, it should be no surprise that Gyllenhaal is also a fan of some great films himself.

Like many stars we interview, Gyllenhaal found it difficult to narrow down his choices; when the question was posed, he cited the play The Real Thing, saying, “It starts off with a guy talking about how he has to basically do a top ten of his favorite songs of all time. It is so hard and, it’s hard to stay true to who you are and who you want to be, so let me just explain this and say that, there’s no particular order. I’m going with my unconscious here, which I don’t think believes in order or hierarchy.” Read on to see how much he geeks-out over Josh Brolin and how sentimental an old Italian film makes him.

Searching for Bobby Fischer (Steven Zaillian, 1993; 100% Tomatometer)

The first movie that comes to my mind when somebody asks me about favorites is Searching for Bobby Fischer by Steve Zaillian. First of all, it’s a beautifully, beautifully shot and acted movie. I mean, the screenplay is brilliant, but more than anything, Conrad Hall shot the movie, and it’s one of the best performances I’ve seen by an actor of any age in a movie. The honesty and the presence of the lead kid in the movie is amazing. And every actor surrounding him is extraordinary, from Joan Allen, and Laurence Fishburne, Joe Mantegna, Ben Kingsley; Laura Linney plays like a one scene role in the movie. Like a virtually unknown at the time, Laura Linney. And just the story of father and son and the score is beautiful. It is inevitably one that I am always drawn to, and I think it’s filled with hope but also like a real darkness and the beauty of childhood.

La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954; 97% Tomatometer)

The next I would say is La Strada because, well, do I really have to say? I feel like it’s sort of self-explanatory. Like [laughs] Giulietta Masina, I mean every performance, but particularly the last scene in the movie, with Anthony Quinn and just being on the beach, and everything about that movie is beautiful. And there’s something always about his films that, knowing that audio was recorded post shooting the film — I’m pretty sure that’s true with that movie — just to know, in a way, if it is true, it’s just to know that there are two sort of performances happening simultaneously. You can see and hear that. And I love that idea and what skill and sort of the presence to this day that movie has. And it’s also personally really resonant because my father said after he saw that movie, it was what made him want to make movies, and when I finally saw it when I was a teenager, I understood why. So it inevitably has a resonance beyond the brilliance of the movie itself.

So it was just something that was prominent in your family, growing up?

La Strada? Yeah when I was an infant we were just talking about it. [laughs] No, I just think it sort of tied to that. I mean, I just wonder sometimes if my father hadn’t seen that movie and been so moved by it, you know, would he have met my mother? Would my sister have been born? You know, there’s a lot of “would-haves” and eventually all of us have found our way into the movie business, so you know, that’s just an interesting thing. And you know, you never know how a movie will inspire someone and how it will lead not just one life but many to come. Sort of an interesting idea.

Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe, 1996; 85% Tomatometer)

Another is Jerry Maguire, because inevitably it’s just something I can never turn off whenever it’s on the television, and I think that has a power of its own. I also think that… What is it about that movie? I’m trying to think.

Was something going on in your life at the time? That was mid-1990s, right?

Yeah, I feel like it’s a quintessential ’90s movie. You know what I mean? I would actually put Jerry Maguire and Fast Times at Ridgemont High right up there with each other, in the same spot. I know I’m filling up two spots but I know Cameron Crowe wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High, didn’t he? God, I’m really flying by the seat of my pants here. I just want you to know that, like, I have not really thought about this, so you’re getting some legit unconscious. One of my favorite things about that is I watched the DVD commentary and the scene where Phoebe Cates comes out of the pool, and she like takes off her top — apparently Cameron Crowe said that during the time when — the youngins will remember this — but when you would rent VHS tapes, that it was rewound so many times in that one spot that every time she did it would go fuzzy.

The Goonies (Richard Donner, 1985; 67% Tomatometer)

Goonies, yeah. I mean maybe Goonies is better than Jerry Maguire, though I do love Jerry Maguire. Goonies is just like… I have no words for how awesome Goonies is. I happen to be working with Josh Brolin on this Everest movie I’m about to do, and I still geek out. You know, I want him to wear a headband in the Everest movie because it’s such an amazing character choice. If I remember correctly I feel like he wore sweatpants over jeans in that movie? I’m pretty sure. I might be wrong about that. And that was a pretty dope character choice as well. Just incredible acting, and the scenes with Chunk still move me. And Butterfinger… Oh wait, no. Snickers? What is it, Snickers? My first crush was in Goonies too: Kerri Green. She was in Lucas. She was in Summer Rental. OK? Dude, she… Lucas is a very formidable… I had such a crush on her. Oh my god. If you see her in Lucas, you’d understand.

Woman of the Year (George Stevens, 1949; 90% Tomatometer)

I don’t know if you can say one of them but Adam’s Rib and Woman of the Year, like the Hepburn/Tracy movies. The two of them together will never, ever age. There are scenes in those movies together that could be when you’re watching them today, in this moment. I remember those movies and my mother would always love those movies, and I would watch those movies with her, particularly Woman of the Year. I remember feeling very specifically about that movie that I love so much, which is how Spencer Tracy cracks his eggs while he’s making an omelet. I will always crack my eggs like Spencer Tracy because of that movie. [laughs]

Enemy opens everywhere this Friday.