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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - Jake Gyllenhaal interview

Prince of Persia

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JAKE Gyllenhaal jokes and talks seriously about the physical challenge of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as well as tackling a British accent.

He also reveals his terror of ostriches while speaking at the UK press conference for the movie…

Q. How did you manage to do all these gravity-defying feats during the action sequences?
Jake Gyllenhaal: I did as much of it as I could and those pieces that I couldn’t – which were really few and far between – all the best and the biggest stunts in the movie were done by me… and the most dangerous ones as well! I have been studying parkour since I was a young child [laughs]. It was the perfect role for me. I’ve always really wanted to play a prince. Some people might say that I am in a lot of ways a princess, so I felt that playing a prince would be fitting. No, in reality, the majority of the parkour was done by the acrobats in the movie. Primarily, a guy who was hired by David Bell and then a man named Mark Fichera who was a double of mine – but I did the fundamentals and I did a lot of the landings, which are the hardest part on your knees and other parts of your body.

Q. What would you say was the greatest challenge, the physicality of it – getting fit and the parkour and the sword-fighting – or speaking in a British accent?
Jake Gyllenhaal: No doubt speaking in a British accent was the hardest part for me. I think it’s daunting trying to do any service as an American to such a beautiful, fluid speech pattern that you all have. We are just barbarians in comparison. For me, it did help being surrounded by an all… I mean, an international crew but primarily British cast and somewhat British crew, and so I would speak every day. I would get out of the car and I’d have the accent on all day. And I would sort of journey from region to region around England with each different person I would talk to and I would mimic them and sometimes I would sound like them in takes and Mike would say [adopts posh British accent and shouts]: “Dear boy! You don’t sound right! Do it again! Smashing!” That’s my favourite line. “CUT!” That’s when you know he was excited about a take. So yeah, I would say that the accent was much more daunting, particularly in front of the British press!

Q. Have you continued to keep in prime shape?
Jake Gyllenhaal: That’s so interesting I haven’t been asked that question. The answer [question is] is would I again? If possible, like Jerry [Bruckheimer] said, I would. I would actually. Jordan [Mechner] once said that he invented the game by taking photographs of his brother in his pyjamas jumping off walls and that’s how he designed the initial game. If I had the opportunity to do another one I think I would really love to try being a prince in pyjamas. I think that would be a really, really wonderful interpretation. I don’t know if anyone agrees.

Q. Which event in history would you like to erase and how dangerous is it working with ostriches?
Jake Gyllenhaal: I can combine both questions. If I could have a choice – it’s safe to say it’s my favourite scene in the movie- I would maybe go back and try to not have to run away from the ostriches in the ostrich scene because that’s where I was most terrified in the entire shoot. They are terrifying animals. Even in their innocence, they can tear out your eyeballs and rip out your heart. They seem like they have eyes similar to mine but they really don’t. They can really do dangerous stuff to you, so I would like to stop that from happening again.

Q. With the hot temperatures and the action sequences, was this role more physically demanding than others?
Jake Gyllenhaal: It depends on what you mean by physical. I think in a lot of ways the heat was really good for loosening up the muscles, so it was actually very helpful. And then, yeah… this is and was when we were shooting it and continues to be for all the audiences around the world, such a huge epic film that is like er… I’ve said this before but walking onto set was like going into a sporting event, you know? You felt like you were on the team, it took 40 minutes to put on my costume every morning, there were thousands of people there like a massive army.

But when it came down to doing the physical stuff you didn’t even think about it because there was so much adrenaline going on. So for me, I was just pretty much excited the whole time. Any time I had to jump off anything or beat somebody up it was just so much fun and in that way, I guess, different from other films that I have done.

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