Late Pass: Nobody Told Me Jake Gyllenhaal Was My Favorite Actor

Alcon Entertainment

Life comes at you pretty fast, we know. There’s so much pop culture these days that not everyone can be expected to be fully caught up on every show, every film, every album, all at once, all the time. This is Late Pass, a space for Grantland writers to go when they are just a little bit late to the party.

This is the IMDb description for the most recent Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Accidental Love, which at one point was called Nailed, which I am planning to watch, despite it being about what it’s about:

“A small town waitress gets a nail accidentally lodged in her head causing unpredictable behavior that leads her to Washington, D.C., where sparks fly when she meets a clueless young senator who takes up her cause — but what happens when love interferes with what you stand for?”

Two things: First, it’s surprising that so many non-horror movies have been made where a person gets a nail stuck in his or her head. I didn’t do a lot of research on this, but I can immediately think of two (this one and Happy Gilmore), and that’s enough to make it surprising. But maybe it’s not that surprising, because I just read a thing about a movie where a girl has teeth in her vagina, so who even knows anything anymore. I do know a nail in the head is weird. It’s not as weird as genital incisors, but that’s not the point. The point is this:

Jake Gyllenhaal is very dope.

That’s also the second thing.

Recently, I watched Nightcrawler, a movie I’d been told featured Gyllenhaal’s best performance. It was creepy and fun and good and intense. Adding this to how I felt about him in Jarhead, which was also creepy and fun and good and intense, resulted in a revelation I’d not even realized I’d experienced: I am 100 percent in love with him.

I don’t mean for that statement to stand as a “ha-ha” thing. I don’t mean that I would like to hang out with Gyllenhaal. I am 100 percent in love with him. I mean it literally. I mean it inasmuch as one can be in love with a person he or she has only ever seen on television, but I mean it. I suppose that’s surprising, given that I am a married man with a family, but really it’s surprising because the first movie I ever saw Gyllenhaal in was Bubble Boy, and that was like if a stomachache were a person and you had to hang out with him for 25 days.

Jake Gyllenhaal has big eyes — they look like giant eight balls. He has a slightly weird, slightly crooked mouth. His hair is thick in a way that always makes it accidentally cool, and his eyebrows are thick in a way that makes them seem heavy. They look like chalkboard erasers. They look like awnings over his eight-ball eyes.

All of that should add up to something strange, or at least something unattractive, or at the very least unwelcoming. But it doesn’t. It somehow makes him very handsome, and it also somehow makes him the most approachable movie star of all. I guess that’s why I can’t get enough of him.

Brad Pitt has always been the pinnacle of handsome. But that’s a different kind of handsome. That’s a handsome that carries with it a very clear statement: “You can like me, and you can think I am cool, but please do not ever even consider the idea that you and I are anything close to being connected.” Watching Pitt and George Clooney banter back and forth in the Ocean’s movies was fun, but it was also the most insecure I’ve ever been in my life. Gyllenhaal does not make me feel like that.

Gyllenhaal makes me feel like if I saw him at the store, I would say hello, and he’d ask me if I wanted to go in the parking lot and toss around a football for a little bit. I’d say, “But I don’t have a ball.” And he’d smile and say something like, “We’re standing in a Target, Shea. They might have one here.” And then I and the women standing nearby and the cashier who overheard everything would all have our hearts swell up so big and fat that they’d come squirting out of our noses.

Over the last month or so, I made it a point to watch eight Jake Gyllenhaal movies. There was End of Watch, during which I nearly had a heart attack. That’s the movie where he plays a cop, and he and his partner end up being hunted by a Mexican cartel. Let me tell you, by the end of the movie, I was legit standing in front of my TV in total shock and devastation at what I was watching.

Then there was Prisoners. That’s the movie where he plays a detective trying to find two girls who have been kidnapped, while also trying to prevent Hugh Jackman from killing the man he suspects of abducting them. There are also snakes in it. And two different kinds of torture boxes (though, thankfully, Gyllenhaal never ends up in either of them).

There was Source Code, which I still kind of don’t understand, save to say that Gyllenhaal doesn’t have any real limbs in the real world but does in a fake one, and if you’ve not seen it then that’s a pretty weird description and if you have seen it then that’s a pretty bad description.

I watched Prince of Persia, and I’m sorry about that.

And I also rewatched Zodiac (better than I remembered), Jarhead (as good as I remembered), The Day After Tomorrow (more goofy than I remembered, but also more fun), and Brokeback Mountain (I miss Heath Ledger).

That’s approximately 16 hours of Gyllenhaal. I need more. I need so much more. I saw a thing about how he has a movie called Southpaw coming up later this year in which he plays a boxer.


Nothing I’ve ever read has made me happier.

I’m late. I’m late to Gyllenhaal. I’m glad he did not leave without me.

Filed Under: Movies, Shea Serrano, Jake Gyllenhaal, prisoners, nightcrawler, jarhead, Late Pass

Shea Serrano is a staff writer for Grantland. His latest book, The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated and Deconstructed, is a New York Times best seller and is available everywhere.

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