Jake Gyllenhaal could take a cue from Chris Evans
That is a truly bizarre sentence to write.
The last time Jake G had a movie in theaters was nearly eighteen months ago, last spring’s Source Code. Since then, he’s kept a relatively low profile as he recalibrates after his Movie Star dreams died a slow, inexorable death in 2010. For reasons I will never understand, you people wouldn’t let him be a Movie Star (I say “you people” because I fully supported him as a blockbuster star and will always slightly resent everyone else for pushing Jake G aside in favor of Channing Tatum), so he has gone back to his roots in character-driven indies. His first film in a year and a half opens next month, David Ayer’s cop thriller End of Watch.
This is a tight trailer. It looks intense and nervy, and I’ve heard some comparisons to Drive, which has to be more thematic because it looks nothing like Drive, stylistically. But it does look interesting, and I am interested. If Jake Gyllenhaal, Movie Star can’t happen, then I’ll settle for Jake Gyllenhaal, Really Good Actor, I guess.
And I don't mean to imply that Gyllenhaal's career is in the sh*tter or anything—it’s not. End of Watch is an official selection at TIFF and a screening for the film this Sunday will be hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow and the Seinfelds, according to Page Six (cannot wait for those tweets--"My dear friend Jacob and I in East Hampton!"). And he's attached to Mississippi Grind, the next project by the indie darling duo of Boden and Fleck (Half Nelson). He's working plenty, and it's good work with good people. It's just not, you know. Movie Star dreams.
The thing is, though, the Movie Star is pretty well dead these days. Even if Jake G had mass audience support, I’m not sure he would’ve been able to sustain Movie Stardom for more than a couple years—I’m not sure anyone can (let’s watch Tatum and find out). It occurs to me that these days, the Movie Stars are the characters, not the actors. This is why everyone wants a franchise, I think. It’s not just the job security and the money—it’s the only way to be a Star, in capital letters.
Which brings me to Chris Evans. Two years ago, Evans’ own Movie Star dreams were dead in the water. He’d spent a decade not quite breaking through as was interminably predicted when a rumor started circulating that he was one of the final choices for Captain America. Two years later, after successfully launching his own franchise and the bonanza of The Avengers, Evans still isn’t a Movie Star, but Captain America is. And Evans benefits in a dramatic uptick in quality material—post Cap, he’s wrapped two movies, starring alongside James Franco, Michael Shannon, Tilda SWINTON and John Hurt. Two years ago, Chris Evans was a B-grade action star at best. Now he’s playing in the big leagues.
This is what Jake G needs: a franchise. Prince of Persia didn’t pan out, so he needs to pick a new vehicle and give it another shot. Warner Brothers will be re-launching Batman within 3-5 years, or there’s any number of possibilities over at Marvel. They’re about to reclaim the rights to Daredevil, whom they want to integrate into the Avengers universe. He certainly couldn’t do any worse than Ben Affleck did. But then there’s the one that’s the most Movie Star of all the superheroes…Tony Stark.
Hear me out.
Robert Downey, Jr. IS Tony Stark. Always and Forever. But the practicality is that Marvel is building the Avengers to be a self-perpetuating machine, in which these characters will get re-imagined every 5-10 years, not unlike Bond. RDJ will be 50 by the time The Avengers 2 comes out in 2015. He could be 55 by the time we see an Avengers 3, assuming he’s still willing and able to play the part by then (he’s just injured himself on Iron Man 3). So as much as we all love him as Tony Stark—and we DO—the reality is, someone else will be stepping into those shoes. Why not Jake G? By the time RDJ is ready to exit—2015 at the earliest—Gyllenhaal will be hitting his mid-thirties. Perfect timing, no? Just…think about it. We have a few years to adjust.
As for the Jake G/Kirsten Dunst thing some of you have been asking about—she was horrible all of the time. Every time I saw them together, he looked like a kicked puppy. He was constantly apologizing for her—she was rude, snippy and generally unpleasant to everyone. She would do that “look at me but don’t look at me” thing all the f*cking time and it seemed to mortify him to no end, but the worst was her barking at wait staff at restaurants and Jake G sticking around after to apologize and make sure the waiter got tipped. The image of her snapping at someone and him mouthing “I’m sorry” behind her back is ingrained in my mind forever.