Gyllenhaal plays his own double in ‘Enemy’What would you do if you came face to face with a doppelganger? Canadian director Denis Villeneuve explores that question in the psychological thriller “Enemy,” in theaters on Friday, based on Jose Saramago’s 2002 novel “The Double.”
Jake Gyllenhaal, 33, plays both Adam Bell, a teacher struggling to commit to a relationship, and Anthony St. Claire, a married aspiring actor. The two men are unrelated but look identical. Adam discovers his double while watching an obscure film and descends into an obsessive search for Anthony.
When the two meet, their lives become intertwined. Gyllenhaal, who had to maneuver special effects and act with tennis balls used to digitally place Adam and Anthony on-screen together, said the film was “the most fulfilling creative experience” for him.
“Never have I had the opportunity to feel what it was like to act against my own instincts, and I actually was humbled by it,” he said in an interview littered with laughs, Jay Z quotes and talk of serial killers.
“I think there were places where I thought I knew what I was doing, but then as I’d watch those and do it back, it wasn’t easy to work with as I thought it would be.”
“Enemy,” billed as an erotic thriller, follows Adam as he faces an identity crisis. At times, the audience is taken into his thinking, which Gyllenhaal described as “his anxiety, his questioning, the feelings that we feel inside of ourselves when we’re faced with who we really are and who we perceive ourselves to be.”
“The internal journey is the most interesting one to me,” he said.
Gyllenhaal gained critical praise last year for his performance as the obsessive Detective Loki in Villeneuve’s “Prisoners,” a thriller on child abduction co-starring Hugh Jackman.
“Prisoners” was made after “Enemy” and the actor credited “Enemy” for enabling him to deliver the intense scenes as Detective Loki. “‘Enemy’ was much more artistically indulgent in the way that we were experimenting with form and process,” Gyllenhaal said.
“I was definitely not the center of attention on ‘Prisoners,’ I was doing my thing along with a number of many more talented actors than I am. Denis said very specifically to me before we started ‘Prisoners’ ... ‘you’re not going to get my attention in the way that you did,’” he added.