The idea of Nightcrawler, the sometimes lurid and riveting screenplay of a TV night shift videographer sprang from the mind of the man who would direct it, Dan Gilroy. Jake Gyllenhaal, who stars and co-produces, shared Gilroy’s vision of unmasking the nighttime world of LA’s crime underbelly for one hyper ambitious cameraman, Lou Bloom. Bloom isn’t afraid to cross every boundary he encounters, damn the consequences. Gilroy who is married to Gyllenhaal’s co-star Renee Russo, told us during the Toronto International Film Festival that the changing role of local television news has created a starving monster always looking for low-hanging fruit.
Dan Gilroy – There was a long time when news departments didn’t have to make a profit, it was considered a service. I’m very aware that once news is generated to make money it becomes entertainment in many ways. So that for me was being aware at the genesis, If I was going to point to a specific moment, three years ago the LA local news have in the middle of the car chase capital, they will pre-empt a Presidential debate to watch a little Toyota Tercel putter around for two or four hours. You know what they’re waiting for? They’ve got their fingers crossed that someone’s going to get killed or shot or something horrible is going to happen. They have this system in place where they have a delay there theoretically these executions are not supposed to be shown but in the last few years I think two times “Oops! We missed the delay!” And you’re watching someone getting killed live in television ratings got through the roof. You just aren’t asking yourself “Where does this go?” and if you ask that I’m not going to use a term like “worse” because I want to avoid it, I want someone else to make the decision. I think things are leaning farther and farther towards to lurid and graphic. I feel that’s the world were living in right now because it generate ratings and I believe right now the bottom line is the prime mover for most of what happens around us.
Anne Brodie – Gyllenhaal was incredible as Bloom. He was fully committed to the coyote character he had in mind, down to his stunning weight loss.
DG – That was incredible. Two months before Jake started talking about what the character looked like, the symbolic image of a coyote. In Los Angeles coyotes have a perpetually lean look. They can never be satiated. Jake said he’d lose weight and it took eight weeks and he finally got twenty pounds down. I loved it. It was a political football for some people who were like Oh my God, what is this? The dailies look bizarre and frightening to some people but we shot the first two days we were committed, we were locked in. In order to keep the weight down he would run ten, fifteen miles to the set. Why? I don’t know. Then he’d eat kale and then he’d work for fifteen hours. I didn’t know how he was sustaining himself and getting through but he kept to it. Every night he would come in and ask ‘Do I look fat?”. And I told him not to lose any more weight. I had people coming up to me who were above me saying he could NOT lose another pound. If he loses we’re going to have a problem. These dailies were frightening. Now you see them in context of the film and now it all makes sense. The dailies are coming in in fragments and people said you could only see his eyes. He looked like a ghost.
AB – It seems Jake pulled out all the stops to play Lou Bloom, even putting his health at risk.
DG – It just speaks to Jake’s fearlessness. He’s in a place right now where it’s not about succeeding or failing, it’s about trying. That’s something I love about him as an actor. The thing that terrifies him most is mediocrity.