Does the appeal of four middle-aged women shopping and being sassy in the desert elude you this weekend at the multiplex? If so, Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time might be the kind of action you need to remedy the situation. Before he got all buff for the big sand-and-scimitar summer movie, Gyllenhaal flexed his acting muscles in a number of diverse roles. Here are five easy reasons why Jake is here to stay.
To some people, Gyllenhaal will forever be remembered as the titular disturbed teen with visions of a giant silvery bunny rabbit in this bizarre 2001 sci-fi thriller. The plot involving time travel, falling jet engines, an elementary school dance group called Sparkle Motion and Patrick Swayze as a corrupt self-help guru might not make a lot of literal sense, but Gyllenhaal’s compelling performance as the tortured teen guaranteed his career would outlive this tragic character. Both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut are available on DVD and Blu-ray, but the theatrical cut actually has smoother pacing and works better.
Based on a former Marine’s best-selling novel about his pre-Gulf War experiences, Jarhead
features a buff Gyllenhaal as Anthony “Swoff” Swofford—a third-generation enlistee who excels as a sniper but spends 175 days in the Saudi Arabian desert fired up on too much adrenaline and little action. When Desert Storm comes, it’s over in five days, but the experience will haunt Swoff for a lifetime--even after he weeps over never having had a chance to shoot to kill, only fire his rifle in celebration. Available on both DVD and Blu-ray, Jarhead
also features Jake in an explicit sex scene with a woman this time.
Gyllenhaal plays San Francisco newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who becomes obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac killer who terrorized the Bay Area in the 1970s. Graysmith finds a fellow sleuth in reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), but when Avery succumbs to his own personal demons Graysmith spends years trying to crack the case. Although the real Zodiac killer was never found, Gyllenhaal’s confrontation with the man he believes is the Zodiac at the end of this tense David Fincher film is bone chilling. Seek out the extended director’s cut on either DVD or Blu-ray.
In the critically acclaimed Brothers
, based on the Danish film Brødre
by director Susanne Bier, Gyllenhaal plays a bad boy who moves in on his brother’s wife (Natalie Portman) when his soldier brother (Tobey Maguire) is missing and presumed dead in Afghanistan. When a detached and mentally unstable Maguire escapes from being a POW and returns home, his paranoia mounts when he finds Gyllenhaal a little too close for comfort with his wife and two kids. You know it won’t end pretty, but at least it looks good on Blu-ray and DVD.
When director Ang Lee put out the call that he was making a graphic gay drama about the forbidden love shared between two sheepherders, actors like Mark Wahlberg went running for the hills. Gyllenhaal stepped up and both he and co-star Heath Ledger earned Oscar nominations for their walk on the wild side, which is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.