Jake Gyllenhaal was undoubtedly thrilled with the critical praise he received for last year’s “Donnie Darko,” but he wasn’t half as excited as he was when he found out he’d be shooting love scenes with Jennifer Aniston in her new movie.
“I called all of [my friends],” the 21-year-old actor said, jokingly.
“[He] made me talk to them,” Aniston said with a smile.
“I’m at the audition, I’m like, (mimes talking into telephone) ’Dude, you guys hold on. Before I go, would you just say hi to my friend?’ ” Gyllenhaal said. “No, I got the part, and my cell phone wasn’t working. It didn’t get good reception in Simi Valley where we shot, so I couldn’t really call any of my friends that often. But yeah, I was very excited. I think more so that [Aniston] was doing something that was so out there and that I’d be a part of that.”
“The Good Girl” is indeed a decidedly different turn for the Emmy-nominated actress best known as Rachel on “Friends.” Set in a small town, it’s a claustrophobic and melancholy tale about a lonely, frustrated wife (Aniston) who initiates an affair with a disaffected coworker (Gyllenhaal) at the local Retail Rodeo. Even the film’s moments of humor are somewhat dark, as “The Good Girl”’s string of bad decision-making eventually affects everyone around her in terrible ways.
Dressed down in jeans, oversized shirts and little to no makeup, Aniston’s “Good Girl” character is as far from her real-life red-carpet life with Brad Pitt as one can imagine. Aniston was hoping that the film’s cast — rising cult hero Gyllenhaal, John C. Reilly (“Magnolia”) and Tim Blake Nelson (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) — wouldn’t be adverse to having her aboard.
“My fear? ’God, I hope they’re not scared of TV woman coming in …’ ” Aniston offered.
Gyllenhaal said it was similar humility from Aniston that made the experience fun, and it’s not as though she hasn’t stepped outside of her “Friends” character on film before. It was her comic turn in “Office Space,” the live-action movie from “Beavis and Butt-Head” creator Mike Judge, that attracted the attention of “The Good Girl” director Miguel Arteta (“Chuck & Buck”).
Though “The Good Girl” carries an R rating and puts its stars in some compromising positions, those love scenes didn’t offer much for Gyllenhaal — joking or not — to get too excited about.
“We’re not naked, so there’s that,” Aniston explained.
“Let’s just get that clear,” echoed Gyllenhaal. “We weren’t naked. I was only naked. She wasn’t naked.”
While Aniston benefited from the good fortune of a gentlemanly co-star this time around, she may find herself at the mercy of Jim Carrey in her next big project.
Aniston plays a character named Grace in “Bruce Almighty” — which began shooting this month. As the title character, Carrey is granted almighty powers after God hears him complaining about everything that’s wrong with the world. God challenges him to do a better job in just one day while threatening to end the world if Bruce’s efforts don’t measure up.
“Bruce Almighty” is being directed by Tom Shadyac, who worked with Carrey way back in 1994 on the original “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and again in 1997 on “Liar, Liar.” Morgan Freeman (“The Sum of All Fears”) co-stars in the God role.