Christian Bale, Robert De Niro, Daniel Day Lewis, Adrien Brody… These names, and a few more, make up an exclusive list of actors who have pushed their bodies to ridiculous lengths, pulling off shocking physical transformations for a role, whether it be losing so much weight that your ass literally falls off, or packing on so much fat/muscle mass that you essentially become a different person (coincidentally, Christian Bale did both those things back to back). And now we can add one more name to that list, after viewing this first pic (via Deadline) from director Antoine “Training Day” Fuqua’s new boxing drama Southpaw.
Would you care to hazard a guess as to who that mountain of muscle, popping veins and naked aggression belongs to? Gerard Butler? Bradley Cooper? Nope. Ladies and gentlemen, that is none other than Jake Gyllenhaal.
Just to put this transformation into perspective, this is the very same Jake Gyllenhaal who just recently lost 10kgs by eating next to nothing to play a sociopathic late-night crime scene reporter in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. Before he became the beefcake up top, he looked like this:
Antoine Fuqua commented on Gyllenhaal’s crazy transformation and preparation for Southpaw, which focuses on “Junior Middleweight Champion Billy “The Great” Hope, a lefty champ who loses everything in a personal tragedy and is forced to fight his way to redemption”.
“I’m so pumped, man. Jake is going to change how people see him. I had him training twice a day in the boxing ring, he did two-a-days seven days a week. I pretty much had him with me and my trainer every day. I took him to almost every fight. I had him train at Floyd Mayweather’s gym in Vegas and we watched Floyd’s fights, and the Manny Pacquiao fight. He trained in New York at Church Gym with real fighters. We literally turned him into a beast… Jake, my god, he’s a very electric, powerful fighter in this movie, and a guy who fights for his daughter. I’m confident that this will change how people see Jake, as a leading man.
“He sure has grown up. I love this guy. I met Jake years ago before he did End of Watch, and I saw something in him. I told him he needed to do more masculine films because I could see he had this power in him, and good size, and great expressive eyes. When I met him I said, ‘You’ve got to start doing that.’ And I watched him start. Working with him was a great experience because he’s so committed and gives his heart. You’re going to see in this movie, how far he has come. I asked this guy from day one, ‘I need you in the gym every day. I need you to train every day.’ And I said, ‘The word is sacrifice.’
“Literally. I think he broke up with his girlfriend because he was just in the gym every day. He was training like a fighter. I had him sparring, really getting hit. I put him in situations where I wanted to see what he was made of. No one but fighters understand the sacrifice it takes to be a fighter.”
Gyllenhaal has been on an absolute acting tear as of late, putting in sterling performances in End of Watch, Prisoners, Enemy and Nightcrawler. That last one has already had lots of people throwing his name into the ring for an Oscar nomination in 2015, and if Southpaw delivers the type of Gyllenhaal performance that it’s promising just from this one incredibly intense pic, it will be very hard for people to not start taking him seriously as a major acting heavyweight (or should that be middleweight?) now. And to think, this was the kooky beanpole kid with awkward haircut in Bubble Boy.
Southpaw, which was written by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter (who said the film was partly inspired by the personal struggles of rapper Eminem, who was originally slated to star) also stars Rachel McAdams and Rita Ora.
Last Updated: December 1, 2014