Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña buddy up and hit the beat.
To be persuasive as LAPD partners patrolling South Central gangland, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña spent five months bonding, sparring, running and gunning. All before writer/director David Ayer shot a single frame of End Of Watch. Buzz sits down (but Gyllenhaal and Peña don’t) to talk chemistry, ride-alongs and frozen yoghurt…
JAKE GYLLENHAAL: We’re gonna stand for this...
MICHAEL PEÑA: I’m serious, dude.
JG: [to Peña] How about I answer his questions and then you punch me?
MP: How about let’s just do the talking thing?
JG: Cool. [To Total Film] Dude, we are standing.
OK, tell us about this five-month rehearsal process.
MP: I’ll give you a typical day: wake up, go to sparring, then rehearsals with David, then weapons training…
JG: …six hours a day, two times a week. Then two or three times a week, we’d go on ride-alongs from 4pm to 4am; then we’d sleep a little and then go do fight training at a dojo in Echo Park with tough kids who just don’t give a shit; then we’d do tactical training two times a week with this SWAT guy, using live rounds and moving targets.
It’s become lore that you two didn’t gel at first…
MP: That was mainly me. Jake’s a really open dude and it took me a while to open up and get comfortable. It’s Hollywood, man, and it was tough for me to let my guard down. But when it happened, we were able to really communicate and not give each other PR-y stuff. It was the real deal.
JG: Me being so open can create a scepticism, like, “Is he for real?” But it was also about coming from different backgrounds. On ride-alongs, I’d be like, “Let’s go through the door!” and he’d be like, “Ah, not a great idea…” [Laughs] But eventually that out-of-sync rhythm became totally in sync.
David Ayer says you were initially reluctant to shave your head, Jake.
JG: Nope, that needs a rewrite… If I’m reluctant to shave my head, then why would I spend five months on the street?
How was David once you were on set?
JG: His response to liking something is, “That didn’t suck.”
MP: “That sucked less.” Or “Do some other shit.” In rehearsals too, he was really rough. We’d have these ‘Poison Meetings’ where he would literally…
JG: …poison our minds…
MP: …with vitriol, and they really worked, they got you motivated. They’d usually come after sparring, after we’d gone home and showered quickly or whatever.
JG: I’d go get a latte and a hamburger.
MP: I was literally eating grass and rocks.
JG: You were trying to shed some weight.
MP: Remember, dude, with your Pinkberry [frozen yoghurt], when you were like, “Mmmm! Oh my god, it’s so good!… Mike, you want some?”
JG: Then I said, “You wanna go for a run later?”
MP: I was like, “How can you be eating that?” And he’s like, “I’m ripped.” Something along those lines…
JG: Apparently, I said a lot of things. Like I didn’t want to cut my hair.