I had to resist the urge to talk about The Walking Dead again this week—but seriously, the midseason finale pretty much blew my brains out … ahem, pun intended. (Too soon?) Instead, I wanted to gush a bit about one of my favorite actors and his creeptastic new film.
Nightcrawler stars my boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom, a slippery Los Angeles sociopath who gets sucked into the grim morbidity of television news: “If it bleeds, it leads.” (Sad but true fact; not for nothing, I heard that on the first day of my news reporting class in college.) Bloom, driven to find a job but reeling from another rejection, spies the wreckage of a car crash one night and pulls over to observe. When he discovers that the footage shot by a gruff cameraman [Bill Paxton] may make it onto the morning news, you can practically see the light bulb go off in his eyes. Armed with a police scanner and a hapless intern [Riz Ahmed], Bloom dives headfirst into the cutthroat blood sport of crime journalism.
Last week, Gyllenhaal told David Letterman he viewed Bloom as “morally corrupt.” “He’s a bottom-feeder,” echoed Letterman. Bloom’s ambition pushes him to the point of, dare I say it, murderous obsession. He wants to be the best and he’s willing to do whatever it takes—including moving bodies around to stage a better shot and racing against the police to be first on the scene.
Furthering his descent is the bloodthirsty producer [Rene Russo] breathing down his neck, desperate to keep viewers of her low-rated station attentive, or, at the very least, clinging to the entrails of the latest victim. “Think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut,” she tells Bloom. “I understand,” he replies calmly. (Cue the uncomfortable goose bumps.)
Gyllenhaal went method for the role, losing nearly 30 pounds. “Why not?” he laughed to Ellen DeGeneres when he visited her show Oct. 29. He has likened his character to a hungry, scavenging coyote to more than one media outlet. He ran approximately 15 miles each day to achieve Bloom’s gaunt appearance, aiming perhaps to give him the same hollow look on the outside as he feels on the inside.
He explained to DeGeneres, “When you’re driven and you have an idea and you’re inspired by something, you know, a lot of times you’ll drive through it and that’s sort of the character and that’s the mindset I was in.”
It’s hard to rank a film that won’t resonate with audiences across the board. I loved it; many others didn’t. As of Nov. 30, it’s raked in over $28 million. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ and I find myself wanting to both agree and disagree. The movie itself was unsettling, but Jake’s performance was electrifying and both may snag a nod or two in the coming months—after all, ‘tis the season to hear awards buzz.
“Why you pursue something is as important as what you pursue.”