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Review of The Guilty Interview: Jake Gyllenhaal & Antoine Fuqua Discuss Netflix Thriller

Acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua’s latest film The Guilty arrives on Netflix on October 1. The thriller is a remake of the 2018 Danish film of the same name and stars Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role.

“The film takes place over the course of a single morning in a 911 dispatch call center,” reads the official logline. “Call operator Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) tries to save a caller in grave danger—but he soon discovers that nothing is as it seems, and facing the truth is the only way out.”

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with The Guilty director Antoine Fuqua and star Jake Gyllenhaal, who also produced the film, about its unique story, how the film was shot, and the difficult acting challenge that excited Gyllenhaal.

Tyler Treese: Jake, Jake, I was so impressed by your performance and this seemed like such an interesting challenge for an actor to be in a film where your performance isn’t just so pivotal, but it’s largely you having these phone conversations while looking at a monitor. It’s almost like a play to an extent. How intriguing and difficult was this role for you?

Jake Gyllenhaal: I just love the whole idea that at a certain point, the movie required a deep imagination from the audience that challenges your perception of who was calling in, what they looked like, just because of how they sounded, were they, this person, that person, who were they? To me, it just challenged all the things we’re so used to seeing. We’re so used to seeing everything. We’re shown everything in movies at this point. The frame is packed with stuff and the more, the better. I just felt like the story was so strong that you could rely on it completely.

All I had to do is really sit there and listen. I just loved that idea. It was about listening, not just the audience listening, but the characters, too. I didn’t really have to do a whole lot. We just had to hire great actors to listen to, which we did and that’s what happened. But if I’m really honest about it, listening is a whole lot harder than I thought it was going to be for all hours of the day, but it was quite an interesting experience.

Antoine, what was the biggest challenge in making the film visually interesting throughout? Do you feel like the plot’s confines made you be more creative as a director?

Antoine Fuqua: Yeah. I’m always trying to be more creative as a director. It all comes from the material. It all starts with the material. And then of course the actor you have in front of you that inspires you to be more creative as well, you know? But yes, the environment was limited, which was part of the story. So as a director, you have to find ways to keep it interesting for the audience.

What I discovered about it was less was more when you have a great actor like Jake and other great actors on the phone because you don’t want to do anything to distract from the story and the performance. And part of what was fun about it was to constantly check myself to do less so that the audience can enjoy the story and the journey of the characters.

Jake, while this abduction is happening, your character’s own court case is looming. You’re clearly seen as struggling. What went into portraying this character that’s very stressed out and dealing with his own demons while trying to save a life?

Gyllenhaal: What I loved about the movie was that it was about not earthly redemption. It was about a sort of spiritual redemption in that way in the end. In the end, the truth is not gonna always be easy and may not provide comfort in the reality that we’re in, but it’s essential to making the systems work and healing the systems and I think that was what I loved about it. It’s hard for me to make a film where there’s not another undercurrent. I like a number of different layers and at the first layer of this movie is this crazy thriller. And then as it reveals itself, it ends up being about going back inward.

I just love it is like this big wave that comes at you and then it comes right back at you. That’s how I always felt about it, and it just felt so important to transpose even the original film into an American context, because I think a lot of the things that are undercurrents in this movie, we’re dealing with as a culture as well and it’s so important to kind of start to begin to speak about in an artistic way.

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