Jake Gyllenhaal rarely goes into an interview without making headlines. Over the years, the star of films such as The Guilty and Spider-Man: Homecoming has become known among fans as an agent of chaos, a man who delights in causing mischief via deadpan comments or outright mistruths.
Recent examples include his now-infamous claim that he doesn’t shower or bathe regularly, and referring to filming a sex scene with Jennifer Aniston as “torture”. There was also the time he gave a convoluted history of Benedict Cabbage Patch, and also when he said Care Bears was his favourite superhero movie.
Here are 10 instances where Jake Gyllenhaal managed to weird everyone out.
When he failed to cooperate on Ellen
Gyllenhaal tends to be at his most chaotic when he appears on talk shows – there’s literally a YouTube video titled “Jake Gyllenhaal being chaotic on talk shows for seven minutes straight”. Ellen DeGeneres has managed to rile up a fair few celebrities in her day, but Gyllenhaal gave her a run for her money when he refused to pander to her prying questions about his personal life. DeGeneres, who has a history of trying to get invited to celebrity birthday parties, grilled Gyllenhaal about when his was and then proceeded to ask what he planned on doing. A baffled Gyllenhaal answered: “It’s my birthday next week.” Next question, please. In a later Ellen appearance, he went on the Burning Questions challenge and was asked about “a ridiculous thing” he was afraid of. “This show,” he answered.
Saying filming a sex scene with Jennifer Aniston was “torture”
Remember when Tony Curtis joked that kissing Marilyn Monroe was like kissing Hitler? On an admittedly lesser scale, Gyllenhaal said filming a sex scene with Jennifer Aniston was like “torture”. Curtis later said he was taken out of context and was actually just snapping at a reporter for the ridiculous question. Gyllenhaal appears to have been in a similar mindset here, as it turns out he actually had a crush on Aniston while she was starring in Friends. That was bound to make things a little awkward when they shot sex scenes together for the 2002 romance, The Good Girl. Gyllenhaal also pointed out that it’s never fun pretending to have sex in front of 40 or so people. “That doesn’t turn me on,” he shrugged.
Claiming he’d stopped taking regular showers
Who would have thought an apparently sarcastic comment could have sparked such international debate? Yet that’s what happened when the Marvel star gave an interview to Vanity Fair where he claimed he found bathing to be “less necessary, at times”. The remark got so much attention that it prompted a wave of think pieces and actual explainers for how regularly people should bathe or shower. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Vanity Fair journalist may have missed Gyllenhaal’s deadpan humour, as the actor was later forced to clarify that, yes, he does wash himself. “I don’t know what it was, it was an answer to a question where I was being sarcastic and ironic and it has followed me around,” he said.
When he got serious about Edna Mode’s “no cape” rule
In a joint interview with Samuel L Jackson to promote Spider-Man: Far From Home, Gyllenhaal was asked by Variety if there was a “trick” to making capes look cool. “Whether you know it or not, capes are always cool, they’ve always been cool, they never lost their cool, never will lose their cool.” Jackson, who previously voiced a character in The Incredibles, then referred to the animated film’s scene-stealing designer Edna Mode, who bans her clients from wearing capes because “they get caught on things”. “I disagree,” Gyllenhaal insisted, then proceeded to explain precisely why Edna Mode was wrong in her opinion of capes for the next 40 seconds.
When he said Care Bears was his favourite superhero movie
In another eyebrow-raising moment on the Spider-Man press tour, Gyllenhaal was asked about his favourite superhero movie. An easy question, you would think, with obvious answers including the various Marvel films, Batman or Superman. But Gyllenhaal appeared stressed by the question and asked: “Is Care Bears a superhero… action movie? That’s one of my favourites [of] all time.” To be fair, he also suggested Deadpool and praised his friend and fellow actor Ryan Reynolds for making the character “completely his own”.
When he gave a long, convoluted history of “Benedict Cabbage Patch”
Right after Gyllenhaal sounded off on a Radio 1 listener for calling Sean Paul “overrated”, the actor appeared in another interview where he ranted about his fellow Marvel star, Benedict Cumberbatch. “Benedict Cabbage Patch, his great grandfather actually started Cabbage Patch [dolls] and they were a big thing in the Nineties, and how Benedict got his start in the business was his uncle who obviously became really wealthy through all of the profits,” he informed his baffled co-star Tom Holland and their interviewer. “His uncle flew him to London and put him in an apartment and then he started his career,” he continued. “The truth of the matter is without Cabbage Patch Kids, Benedict Cabbage Patch wouldn’t have a career and you wouldn’t have Doctor Strange.” It’s worth noting that Gyllenhaal also pronounced Doctor Strange with a French accent: Strangé
When he claimed to run 150 miles a day
Gyllenhaal is actually known for dedicating himself to film roles, including losing a considerable amount of weight and running for miles each day to get in character for his sleazy character in Nightcrawler. However, asked by David Letterman about his “experience as a runner”, he claimed to run short distances, “maybe 150 miles a day”. Again, completely deadpan.
Whenever he mocks the ludicrous “how did you get in shape for this role” question
On more than one occasion, Gyllenhaal has faced the question every actor dreads: “How did you get in shape for this role?” On Conan O’Brien, he called the question “weird”, then attempted to answer seriously: “Yeah, I can get in shape for roles…” In an earlier interview on Letterman, he spoke about how he’d got in shape by growing a beard using pretentious actor terms. “I didn’t shave, and what happened naturally is, a beard grew, it just happened naturally. And a surprising part of the whole thing was, as time went on, it just kept growing. It just grew longer and longer and longer. It was a really organic process.”
When he played a zany music instructor in John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch
It’s hard to explain exactly what Gyllenhaal was doing in this kid’s TV special, but it was definitely colourful. After introducing himself as “Mr Music”, Gyllenhaal proceeds to sing about how there’s “music everywhere”. At one point, he attacks a yogurt with a spoon while a group of children watch him try to recreate an earlier sound. Asked what the sound was like, he screams: “Like a squishy sound, like a butt!”
Every time he’s in the same room as Tom Holland, or if someone mentions Tom Holland.
Interviewer: “What did you learn from Tom Holland?” Gyllenhaal: “Nothing, he’s a fool.” Also, the time Gyllenhaal made Holland jump out of his skin by lurching at him and shouting: “Ahhh!” in the middle of a filmed interview.
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