Monday, 8 December 2014

First still of Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw arrives online

Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) is building a reputation for moulding himself into whatever role he plays.
Having initially dropped weight for the spindly Leo Bloom in Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal has packed on on pounds to play boxer Billy Hope in Antoine Fuqua's (Olympus Has Fallen) Southpaw*. The first still of a bulked up Gyllenhaal appeared online recently via Deadline.

According to Fuqua, it was all part of redefining how people see the actor. "Jake is going to change how people see him," he says. "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... I'm confident that this will change how people see Jake, as a leading man." From a purely visual aesthetic, it seems to have paid off, even if, as Fuqua reports, it apparently led to Gyllenhaal breaking off a relationship to dedicate himself to training.

Southpaw finds Gyllenhaal as the pugilist known as Billy 'The Great' Hope, a left-handed fighter who wins a big title but suffers a tragedy shortly after. With his life in tatters he must piece everything back together to regain the respect of his young daughter. Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter wrote the original script, though Fuqua brought in Equalizer collaborator Richard Wenk to polish it.

Naomie Harris (Skyfall) is Angela, the social worker who aids Gyllenhaal and his offspring, while Rachel McAdams (Midnight In Paris) is Billy's wife Maureen, and Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler) is set as Titus 'Tick' Willis, who retired from the ring after losing an eye and trains younger fighters. Fuqua is busy in post-production now to have the film ready for release next year.

*Christian Bale famously shed 63 pounds from his 185 pound six-foot frame to play a traumatised man in the psychological thriller The Machinist (2004). He then regained that weight – plus an extra 40 pounds – in the short span of five months to play Batman/Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005).

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