Jake Gyllenhaal on being roommates with brother-in-law Peter Sarsgaard

June 14, 2024

Jake Gyllenhaal says the unexpected opportunity to become roommates with his brother-in-law and co-star Peter Sarsgaard, is a moment he will always cherish.

Fresh from dominating the UFC octagon in Road House, the Oscar-nominated actor has swapped his mouthguard for the courtroom in the Apple TV+ series Presumed Innocent.

Based on the 1987 novel of the same name, and made into movie starring Harrison Ford in 1990, it follows a criminal lawyer accused of killing his co-worker and lover.

Despite the challenging theme, the filming process gave Gyllenhaal a moment in time for which he is forever grateful.

"We got to live together through a majority of it", he tells Sky News.

"Most of the time, we both live in the same city but he's with his family and I'm in my life and we see each other but we don't live together, so it was a very special time in both of our lives that we got to really be like roommates."

He adds: "It's not a normal situation in that way, but man, did I cherish it and we got so much closer as a result of it".

Sarsgaard married Gyllenhaal's sister, fellow actor and filmmaker Maggie Gyllenhaal, in 2009 and they have one child together.

The 43-year-old says he has only known "wonderful things" to come from working with people he knows away from the screen.

'The most powerful note I was ever given'

"There's an honesty there, I think, really it's amazing."

He says already being past the "introductory moments" allows actors a space and environment where you can reach a new level of connection in a shorter length of time.

"In our case, with my brother-in-law and I, we're really devoted to our work and acting and storytelling and stuff so I think we also understand it as a craft, so we can kind of bring stuff from our relationship into scenes that are true in a fictional space, and we have great fun doing it.

"And then we can go home and we can have a beer and we can laugh and enjoy it."

The Spider-Man star's appreciation for Sarsgaard doesn't stop there.

He even credits his brother-in-law for the most memorable piece of direction he has ever received as an actor.

"He once came to see me in a show that I was doing on stage, and his only note for me was there's power in stillness, and I remember that so much because I think it's true.

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"I think particularly as an actor but then generally in life, I think we have a tendency to want to move and express ourselves, and I think that oftentimes the stillness makes people lean in and also makes you focus on listening.

"And it does a lot of really, really powerful things. It was an incredible note and it came from Peter."

'People love a crime whodunnit'

Gyllenhaal leads the cast in Presumed Innocent as Rusty Sabich, a Chicago criminal lawyer who finds himself facing murder charges.

Sarsgaard plays fellow lawyer and public prosecutor Tommy Molto in the series.

This is Gyllenhaal's first outing as a TV lead, and he has thoughts on why people are so attached to crime as a genre.

"It's the ultimate question mark, right? It's the ultimate mystery. And I think, thriller, a crime whodunit is always so interesting, particularly when it's a story that's unfolding over many different hours."

Gyllenhaal adds: "It's great fun, even though the subject matter is very intense, and I also think we're fascinated in the extremes of human behaviour, that is the nature of us, fascinated by the 'how is?' and 'how is it possible?' and things like that".

The first two episodes of Presumed Innocent are available to stream on Apple TV+ now with a new episode released each Wednesday.

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