JAKE GYLLENHAAL TURNS UP THE HEAT IN BIG SCREEN THRILLER FROM DAN GILROY
They spend their nights like famished coyotes, hunting fresh meat. “If it bleeds, it leads,” as one character in Nightcrawler says, summarising the link between gore and breaking TV news.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, the film’s title comes from the nickname given to the kind of freelance video journalists who shoot bloody traffic accidents to sell to local TV stations.
The Oscar-nominated star plays Lou Bloom, a jobless and hungry Angeleno who turns to nocturnal body-chasing across Los Angeles to survive.
He lost 10kg for the film, which opens today on the Gold Coast.
Gyllenhaal says he and director Dan Gilroy “talked a lot about coyotes ... in Los Angeles particularly at night, the wild animals that come down (from the hills) and are kind of surviving, even though the metropolis has taken over.”
“He’s a coyote. He’s hungry,” says the actor, nominated for an Academy Award for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain.
One cut scene had Bloom ordering a cheeseburger to eat in a fast-food restaurant, then deciding to take it out because it was 99¢ cheaper.
“This is a guy who doesn’t eat much,” said the 33-year-old blue-eyed actor, who is more used to being on the other side of the paparazzi camera’s lens.
The thriller, which sometimes satirises our voyeuristic society, sees Gyllenhaal’s character slowly transform into a psychopath risking his own life and others’ to shoot video with no apparent empathy or instinct to help those he is filming.
“It is supposed to be the journalist’s responsibility to capture the story, to feed the audience ... no matter what,’’ Gyllenhaal says.
“And he’s doing nothing illegal. He didn’t commit the murders, he’s innocent. But is he?”
Bloom is pushed to go ever further in his morbid journalistic race by Nina (played by Rene Russo), the TV producer he is working for, who wants the goriest possible footage.
“Think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut,” she tells him at one point in the movie.
Gilroy, who also wrote the screenplay and is making his directorial debut, sees his antihero as someone who has been abandoned and abused when he was younger.
“Lou has no empathy ... a part of Lou has shut down,” he says.
“I think what he does is less bad than a CEO who takes pension funds from people and builds a yacht and gets on the cover of Business Week for this, and celebrated for this.
“It’s a brutal world we live in and Lou sees it as it is.’’
Nightcrawler opens today.
Jake Gyllenhaal in a scene from Nightcrawler, which opens locally today.