Back in February, “Prince of Persia” director Mike Newell told MTV News that Jake Gyllenhaal, his upcoming film’s star, was the definition of a “thinking woman’s action hero.”
“He’s got a sort of cheeky, devil-may-care light in his eye, and at the same time, he has a sensitivity, delicacy and thinness of skin,” the Brit director explained. “He is glorious-looking, but you wanted more than that. You wanted women to be interested in him not just as a piece of eye candy.”
Now it’s all well and good to have your boss paying you such compliments, but Newell’s label lined up perfectly with how Gyllenhaal approached the role — his first turn as an action hero after years spent making a name in serious fare like “Brokeback Mountain” and “Jarhead.”
“I always like to try and find something that’s more interesting than what’s just on the page whenever I’m doing something,” the Oscar-nominated actor told MTV News.
Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, a poor young man in the ancient Mideast who’s essentially adopted into the royal family and suddenly finds himself in the midst of a swashbuckling adventure to protect a magical dagger capable of turning back time. “Brokeback,” this ain’t. But he approached the Disney material with respect and seriousness — for the most part.
“Before I even read the script, [Newell] said to me, ’You know, my boy, it’s a script about a dagger that turns back time. Now let’s talk about what that is.’ I was like, ’A dagger that turns back time?’ And he was like, ’Well, yes, I know what you are thinking, because I know you are the thinking woman’s action hero, but, my boy!’ And then he [said] in ancient Persia, or during the time this fantasy world is set, they would believe in things like that. … Somehow, that was an in for me. It wasn’t just a device, it was actually an idea that was fascinating. The whole movie became that with Mike. We were going just a little bit deeper than you would expect.”
Going deeper, though, didn’t mean becoming overly serious about a summer popcorn flick that is adapted from a long-running video game series. “There’s also a great sense of not taking yourself too seriously, which is so important,” Gyllenhaal explained. “And occasionally, when you have an opportunity, take yourself a little seriously, which we do in this movie, and I do think that separates Dastan from other action heroes.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.”
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