Listen: Why Jake Gyllenhaal Is His ‘Best Self’ in the Theater

Looking for the best possible version of Jake Gyllenhaal? You’ll find it onstage, according to the actor himself.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

“I am my best self when I’m working in the theater,” Gyllenhaal said on the latest episode Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, on which he appeared with Carrie Cracknell, the director of his Broadway outing “Sea Wall/A Life.” “I am the performer that I want to be, and I am, most of the time, the person that I would want to be. I think that primarily has to do with the very reasonable hours, which I don’t think anyone who works in the theater, who doesn’t work in other areas of the entertainment business, really fully appreciates.”

The Broadway schedule (six days a week with two two-show days) is “brutal,” he acknowledged. “But I will say that the feeling I have is it’s a world that feels truly new and mine, and one that is what I’ve been in love with since I was a little kid, and the place I knew I was supposed to be.”

In “Sea Wall/A Life,” Gyllenhaal stars with Tom Sturridge in two separate but thematically linked monologues. According to Cracknell, each actor reveals a lot of himself in each monologue.

“A lot of the process was about us trying to, in a way, think less about character than we would normally, and much more about humanity and what the central themes of the pieces were, and how those actually connected to the actors themselves rather than necessarily a kind of deep, constructed sense of character,” the director said on Stagecraft. “Which is quite different to how I normally work. But it felt really important that the costumes that they were wearing spoke to who they were, and that the intonation or the way that they might address [things] kind of moment-to-moment felt from themselves.”

Also in the new Stagecraft, Gyllenhaal and Cracknell reveal some of the backstage secrets of “Sea Wall/A Life,” ranging from Sturridge’s surprising pre-performance ritual to the fact that Gyllenhaal is, he said, “very odd about my feet onstage.”

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available biweekly in July, August and September, with a weekly schedule resuming in October. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

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