Jake Gyllenhaal has a new series—his first television role—premiering on Apple TV+ next week. Presumed Innocent comes from David E. Kelley and is another adaptation of Scott Turow’s novel of the same name, which previously inspired Alan Pakula’s 1990 film starring Harrison Ford. 


It looks intense. “Intense” is a word that comes up a lot in a new cover profile of Jake from The Hollywood Reporter. In fact, “intense” is used four times throughout the profile, written by Rebecca Keegan. It seems to be a favored word for people to describe Jake, from his work ethic to his acting style to his status as an uncle. He’s so intense, directors have to tell him to chill on the training!


In contrast, though, Jake spends most of his time talking about trying to be less intense. He’s trying to find work that “freaks [him] out a bit”, but he’s also going to pie contests and baking cakes with his partner, Jeanne Cadieu (he declines to talk about when or if they’re getting married). He wants to have more fun at work, which led him to Road House…but he’s also preparing (intensely) to star in a Broadway staging of Othello opposite Denzel Washington. 


This contradiction is basically the spine of the profile, which is even titled “The Two Jakes”, because Jake doesn’t really say all that much. This isn’t new, back in 2017 Lainey said he tries to “camouflage more than he’s trying to communicate”. And certainly, he has a right to privacy, even as a famous person. But interviews and profiles are part of the job, and as this profile reminds us, Jake, who is now 43, has been working since he was 10. (No one says “nepo baby” but his brother-in-law, Peter Sarsgaard, does talk about how growing up in the industry prepared Jake and his sister, Maggie, to understand the industry from the inside, not just give them a leg up on agents and auditions.)



There is still, seven years on from Lainey’s observation about Jake and his public persona, a sense of obfuscation in this interview. But I think he’s better at it now, he’s smoother and more relaxed, less defensive and more joking. The camouflage has gotten better. And it doesn’t mean the profile is bad—it isn’t. It’s a pleasant interview with a movie star, we learn he has terrible vision and likes food, he’s acting in his sister’s upcoming film, The Bride, he’s trying to relax yet still studies so intensely with coaches for his big Shakespeare role. Lainey asked me how he seems in this interview, and I said “charming”. She responded, “He really is a beautiful devil.”

That’s a GREAT way of putting it, because the thing the camouflage obfuscates is that 2022 article by Domenica Feraud, which detailed an emotionally manipulative relationship between her and a “movie star” who was working on a Broadway musical. It was believed to be Jake Gyllenhaal, though that has never been confirmed. Instead, reporting on Jake continues to point to his past with Taylor Swift as the sole source of any possible black mark on his reputation, though it feels in this profile like everyone is bending their comments toward the unconfirmed allegation from Feraud. Director Antoine Fuqua says of Jake: He just really cares. At times, I think people don’t understand him. It’s not about power or control. He just wants it to be the best it can.” (emphasis mine)


You just don’t understand him! He’s not an emotional vampire, he just cares so much! Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the emphasis on his intensity, on his long-term domestic relationship, his devotion to his family, and Jake’s own propensity to talk without saying anything, all of it adds up to a portrait of a life-long movie star still challenging himself in his art, who is charming, yes, but who is also slippery. Jake has been famous most of his life. He’s widely admired as one of the best actors of his generation, especially after his last decade of work. And yet his best role might just be as “Jake Gyllenhaal”, the charismatic movie star who is impossible to know.