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In Nightcrawler, it’s pretty much a given that Jake Gyllenhaal, as freelance journalist Lou Bloom, gets between the sheets with TV station news director Nina, played by Rene Russo. So why doesn’t the R-rated crime drama show the deed being done?
It turns out that leaving sex scenes out of the Halloween release — and its indie-film budget — was a conscious decision, said producer and star Gyllenhaal.
“To me, the fascinating thing is doing all the work, and then the mystery of what that work is, giving pieces and clues and hints and then ultimately leaving it up to the wonderful imagination of the audience,” he said during an AOL Build conversation on Monday afternoon in New York City. “Respecting an audience is where both Dan [Gilroy] and I connect, where we try and create question marks and clues that aren’t filled in so that someone can participate and enjoy themselves and put their own mind into it. That’s where I think that movies and literature can actually come closest, where we use our own imagination.”
Gyllenhaal also joked of the unseen Nina-Lou Bloom tryst, “You never see it, and so many people have been like, ‘What are they doing in there?! The way people ask it, I’m like, ‘You’re a pervert, you’re a pervert, you’re a pervert!’ “
“I think we’ve lost something by explaining so much to the audience,” added director Gilroy. “When you watch a film like this with so little backstory, the audience will start to supply that backstory, and you have a dialogue between the viewer and a film.” (He also told HuffPost Live of why his real-life wife isn’t explicitly shown with his onscreen star, “I can tell you that there were financiers who wanted to put up the money if we put the sex scene in, and I specifically said no. … I said, ‘There’s nothing we could show that would match whatever you’re imagining is going on behind closed doors.'”)
During the AOL Build conversation, Gyllenhaal also noted that he memorized the entire script like a play and would recite it while driving or out on a run. He’d often cross paths with bits of inspiration while doing so — even something as small as the shape of a pocket on a person’s shirt, recalled Gilroy, or a pair of sunglasses from an appearance by French artist JR on Charlie Rose. “Lou’s an artist — that’s what he is, that’s how I was playing him, he’s searching for the beauty of these scenes,” said Gyllenhaal. “Those sunglasses, I stole them from JR!”
And though Gilroy noted that Lou Bloom was “somebody who succeeds for all the wrong reasons,” Gyllenhaal said he was sad to leave him and his cadence-specific soliloquies so soon. “I’ve done a number of interviews recently where I can’t help but say Lou’s dialogue because it’s like, ‘Is this the shot? Can I do it again?’ It will stay with me forever,” the actor lamented, adding that he now looks at acting solely as being a craft. “I see that there’s a part of myself that I share with Lou, this piece that has illuminated things in myself that maybe I love, maybe I don’t so much, and that’s the cool thing about playing him. … It allows me to look at life in a different way.”
Nightcrawler is currently in theaters.
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