The M Match-Up
STRANGEN- HAAL vs SUAVEN- HAAL
Jake Gyllenhaal is a fine actor who can play all sorts of characters, from creeps to cool dudes. Question is, is he more believable as an odd duck or a handsome hottie?
STRANGEN- HAAL: Jake Gyllenhaal is one of those guys who doesn't mind wearing goofy costumes or uglying himself. In Bubble Boy, he dons a giant plastic bubble for the whole movie. In Jarhead and End Of Watch, he shaves his head. For Nightcrawler, he lost 14kg. He dresses for the role, not his ego.
SUAVEN- HAAL: Obviously, he's also a great-looking guy, but with his googly eyes and wide mouth, he's not QUITE handsome enough to be a George Clooney-style leading man. He looks pretty great as a salesman in Love & Other Drugs, but he also comes across as smarmy. He's charming in Source Code, but only in a boy-next-door sort of way.
ROUND ONE: STRANGENHAAL
Gyllenhaal looks like a misfit.
STRANGEN- HAAL: There's nothing Gyllenhaal loves more than exploring the torment of being alive. His tragic character in Brokeback Mountain is a perfect example - a lovely man with a big secret that ends up destroying him. In Prisoners, he's amazing as a detective who has seen WAY too much. He's brilliant at conveying this stuff.
SUAVEN- HAAL: Have you seen Prince Of Persia? Well, then you should know why Gyllenhaal doesn't often take on straight-up heroic roles. Without a real character to play, he comes across as wooden. He can't sell this sort of stuff. He's also boring in ordinary dramas like Proof.
ROUND TWO: STRANGENHAAL
He's born to be wild, not mild.
STRANGEN- HAAL: Your typical oddball Gyllenhaal movie makes just enough money to be worth the effort. End Of Watch, Source Code, Zodiac and Brokeback Mountain weren't blockbusters, but did respectable business. Donnie Darko was a bomb, but went on to be a cult sensation on video.
SUAVEN- HAAL: Of course, his big, dumb movies tend to do the best - The Day After Tomorrow and Prince Of Persia are his biggest hits. That said, neither of them was humongous. Love & Other Drugs did just okay. The question is, even if Gyllenhaal wanted to sell out, how many would want to buy?
ROUND THREE: SUAVENHAAL
The sad fact is that his "normal" movies make more money than his more idiosyncratic projects.
THE VERDICT: STRANGENHAAL
Appearing in fringe flicks like Nightcrawler is exactly the right move for Gyllenhaal. He speaks for all us off-centre fellas.
- Jason Johnson