Jake Gyllenhaal and director Antoine Fuqua are back together once again, and this time, they are tackling a remake of a recent film. Fuqua directs Gyllenhaal in Netflix’s The Guilty, a remake of the 2018 Danish film of the same name.
The film takes place over the course of a single morning in a 911 dispatch call center as a “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.”
The film features limited actors in person and most appear as just their voice. The other actors that appear are Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Christina Vidal Mitchell, Eli Goree, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Dano and Peter Sarsgaard.
In an interview with Shadow and Act, Fuqua and Gyllenhaal talked about the film and taking on a remake, especially one that follows a path like The Guilty does.
Fuqua explained, “Well, you always want to make sure it has its own rhythm and beats, right? But the original film was well done, and by nature of the 911 call, there [are] certain things you have to do to capture things. But we wanted to make sure it was our own, set it in LA, set it during the fires. There was a certain look to it and a different…the bathroom and different things that weren’t in that one, a couple other things. But we set out to make it our own, but it was well done and the structure was already there. It was really about performance.”
We also spoke with Gyllenhaal about the structure of his role, which was seemingly made easier due to the limited filming abilities due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The power of the story is that you don’t ever get to jump on the other side,” he explained. “That it’s a movie about perception and about our judgments of people when we don’t get to see their face, we just hear their voice, and how we can project onto people. How we can make mistakes and what that means for us in our systems and our society? I think that’s what was interesting to me, was just the fact that it was just one person. But it always played with a bit of theatricality, and that’s something that I’m used to coming from the stage and that I liked.”
The actor also linked the role and the film to some current societal issues.
“I think transposing it to an American context is really important, given everything that was going on and is still going on, continues to go on in America,” he continued. “The undercurrents of this story are about how we, our preconceptions of people really can screw a lot of things up. Mental health is a huge issue, and that’s what this was about. Bringing it to America was important for both me and Antoine. Bringing it to an audience that we felt this story, there was no other story that could communicate an idea like this in the same way, and primarily was about listening and sitting in a chair. But that was important to both of us.
Fuqua also talked about re-teaming with Gyllenhaal on the film, which is years after he directed him in the film Southpaw.
“I mean, to have the opportunity to just focus solely on Jake, as a director, to solely focus on an actor you really love and respect, and you know he’s going to bring his A game is always… that’s the most enticing thing,” he said. “Then during COVID, the opportunity to make a film in a short period of time, to keep everybody safe when we didn’t know if we were going to be able to make a movie again, at what point. So all those things played a factor. What I learned about Jake is Jake brings his A-game. Jake brings his heart. He’s going to be intense. That’s what I learned from Jake in Southpaw.”
Watch the interview below:
The Guilty hits Netflix on Sept. 24