Jake Gyllenhaal is learning how to separate his personal life from his professional life.
The actor opens up about his career trajectory in the No. 7 Hollywood Issue of Man of the World magazine."It's taken me a long time in my career to realize that you can't be good at everything. You sometimes have to give something up. There are limits," the 33-year-old movie star says. "I do care about the stories people want to tell. But then I want to get back to my honest self for the directors I work with."
Gyllenhaal believes it's important to set boundaries at the very beginning. "The movie business is largely just stuffing actors in this place, and this place and this place," he says, noting that he typically takes time off to regroup between projects. "But it's time in your life that you can't have back."
In his new movie Enemy, based on José Saramago's 2002 novel The Double, Gyllenhaal plays a history teacher who has a doppelgänger unrelated by birth. "Many of the movies I've loved the most have had similar processes about rules being broken and bent," the actor says of his filmography. "I love that."
Gyllenhaal jumped at the chance to play dual roles in the erotic thriller, costarring Mélanie Laurent.
"I was at a point in my life where I was struggling with the idea of reconciling parts of yourself—that we can exist just as one person," he says of the mystery movie. "Perceptions of who we are are never deadly accurate. I think we all come across as different people to different people in our lives."
After filming Enemy with director Denis Villeneuves, Gyllenhaal agreed to appear in Prisoners before he had even seen the final cut. "It was just a shot in the dark—it was all about the relationship I had with Denis. For me, that's what movies are all about," he says. "Acting is a very strange job, as well as an amazing one, because it requires great trust. Your relationship with a director is very sacred, a sensitive space. I just can't do it with everyone. And that's what I have discovered about myself."
Gyllenhaal says he feels more comfortable working with certain directors. "It's all about a level of commitment—how far will you go for a director you believe in? How far will you go for a story you believe in? I've always worked as hard as I can on everything I've done. But now I feel like I'm listening to myself and realizing that we have a finite amount of time, and how you spend it is really important."