Jake Gyllenhaal’s Unnerving Commitment To Role in ‘Donnie Darko’ Led To Highly Awkward Moment That Director Narrowly Escaped While Filming

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Unnerving Commitment To Role in ‘Donnie Darko’ Led To Highly Awkward Moment That Director Narrowly Escaped While Filming
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Jake Gyllenhaal earned worldwide fame and praise for his role as Donnie Darko in the 2001 film Donnie Darko. With portraying the role of a psychopath who sees a man in a rabbit mask, the role was extremely difficult for Gyllenhaal to act.

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Not only was the film difficult for Gyllenhaal but also for director Richard Kelly too. Talking about the scene where Donnie Darko visits his therapist and reveals his sexual fantasies, Richard Kelly narrowly avoided an awkward confrontation by cutting the scene with a snap!

Jake Gyllenhaali in and as Donnie Darko (2001)
Jake Gyllenhaal in and as Donnie Darko (2001)

Richard Kelly Avoided An Awkward Encounter With Jake Gyllenhaal

A young Jake Gyllenhaal was showing more commitment to the role of Donnie Darko than what normal actors understood which left director Richard Kelly impressed. With the movie being psychological/sci-fi, Donnie Darko’s sessions with his therapist were very crucial for the movie.

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Jake Gyllenhaal and Richard Kelly from the sets of Donnie Darko (2001)
Jake Gyllenhaal and Richard Kelly from the sets of Donnie Darko (2001)

Also read: Jake Gyllenhaal Feels Heath Ledger’s One Strict Rule After Brokeback Mountain Reveals How Devoted He Was as an Actor

Giving an in-depth dive into what’s going on in Donnie Darko’s mind, there was quite an uncomfortable scene in the 2001 film, where Donnie Darko revealed his sexual fantasies to his therapist. When the therapist hypnotizes Darko, he goes into a trance and imagines Christina Applegate’s character in a sexual manner and begins to ma*turbate before the therapist snaps her fingers and the trance ends.

Since Jake Gyllenhaal was so engrossed in the character of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly thought about a take where the therapist didn’t snap her finger and let Darko and Gyllenhaal continue the shot to see what he would do. As revealed by IMDB, the conclusion of that shot revealed that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character would simply continue to ma*turbate as the scene wouldn’t go any further. With that thought in mind, Richard Kelly decided to scrap that cut and let the therapist bring Donnie Darko out of his sexual trance.

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Suggested: “We thought it’d be so much more awkward”: Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man Co-Star Was Strongly Considered for ‘The Hangover’ Role That Also Had Jake Gyllenhaal in the Race

Jake Gyllenhaal Saw His Adolescence In Donnie Darko

A still from Donnie Darko (2001)
A still from Donnie Darko (2001)

Related: “He was being nibbled to death by ducks”: $84M Robert Downey Jr Movie Nearly Ate Jake Gyllenhaal Alive, David Fincher Couldn’t Take it Anymore

So what was it that drew Jake Gyllenhaal to the depths of this psychological movie other than money? Well, as per the actor, the script was pretty good but the only reason he agreed to do the film was because he was able to see his adolescent years in Donnie Darko as revealed to The Guardian.

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“It beautifully captured the experience of moving into adulthood: the world that felt so solid becoming moveable and liquid. I thought, “This is what my adolescence felt like,” although I don’t speak, and have never spoken to, rabbits.”

He further continued,

“Richard gave me a lot of room. The voice Donnie uses when he’s talking to Frank, the demonic bunny rabbit, was my choice. As well as being this trippy figure, Frank is Donnie’s only friend, almost like a comfort blanket. So the voice is how a child would talk to his blanket.”

Well, thanks to Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko received a rating of 8/10 on IMDB and a whopping 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The 2001 classic film is available to rent on Apple TV+ in the U.S.

Source: IMDB, The Guardian

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Written by Visarg Acharya

Articles Published: 2170

Visarg Acharya, Associate Content Writer, has been heavily involved in movies, series, and history. Having an experience of 2 years in the field of content writing, Visarg is a seasoned writer. Having a degree in Physics, Visarg Acharya has published a dissertation alongside a plethora of poems and short stories along the way.