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Jake Gyllenhaal Q&A

Sep 08, 2010

Jake Gyllenhaal is Prince Dastan in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

QUESTION: You and Gemma Arterton have great chemistry on screen in Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. That must have helped in the scenes where your characters banter together?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: Oh definitely! Those scenes I think were the best written and the most fun to play. They came so naturally and we shot them so fast. It was unfortunate that the ended so quickly. We might spend a month on an action scene and half a day on that scene (with Gemma). We would nail it and move on. She and I had a sort of tit for that thing. The first time we met she looked at me as though she was unimpressed and I looked at her like…’You should be! Why aren’t you?’…(joked). So that was it from the beginning, there was no acting required.

QUESTION: The weather in Morocco during filming was supposed to be so hot and sandy that it was almost like having sand in your mouth all the time?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: t was not that bad. It was ok. It was hot but it was fun. The desert is really cleansing…the sand exfoliates your skin….and there is a nice warm dry sun and you are sweating.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimePrince of Persia: The Sands of Time

QUESTION: You must have been conditioned by Jarhead?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: I was. I make a lot of movies about turning back time and a lot of movies in the desert. It’s a very strange thing.

QUESTION: So how does it feel to finally have your own action figure?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: That is like fulfilling the dreams that I had when I was eight years old. When he is playing with an action figure what young boy doesn’t think that maybe one day…You personify anyway as the action figure character that you are playing with, so to be one is incredible. If you were to go back to the eight year old me and say that one day you will be playing in a movie that looks a little like Indiana Jones, or The Goonies and a couple of other things and it is the video game that you are actually playing called the Prince Of Persia…I think that my head would have exploded.

QUESTION: What was your inspiration for the movie?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: My primary resource was the video game. There were also books and different paintings of that time that were real inspirations. After I read the script I had a meeting with Jerry Bruckheimer and asked him what the movie was going to look like. Was it going to look like a video game or how I might imagine a typical Disney film? For instance, I wondered if I was to be wearing the red outfit for the whole movie. Jerry handed me this book (The Orientalist) and said that was how he wanted it to look. But apart from that there was not a lot of research. There was some research into weaponry and things like that. But I looked on it more like it was based on a fantasy world that was based on reality.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimePrince of Persia: The Sands of Time

QUESTION: What is it like to make a big expensive special effects film like Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL:The thing about a movie like this that is interesting is that people tend to only associate it with commerce. For me it was always that it was so much fun. It is differentiating the actor with the businessman and the actor who says that he wants to be a kid again and have a good time. It was so exciting! Every day I would drive to work and it was like going to a sporting event when you are the captain of the team. There were thousands of cars lined up along the road for five miles and there was an army of film crew and then the sets were 100 feet high – all built with perfect detail. I don’t think you see that any more on a film set. So often it is green screen effects that are done later. But we could shoot anywhere because the details were extraordinary and there were thousands of extras. And some more were added in later – to make it even bigger! I would get in there and every day I did feel like a kid.

QUESTION: How much of the stunt work did you do and were you in the best shape of your life for this movie?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: t depends what you mean by ‘best shape’. I cycle and I run long distances…10 or 12 miles. But I am not able to do that when I am the shape I was for the movie. I remember seeing lance Armstrong on the cover of a magazine and he was saying ‘I’m ripped!’ He was skinny and really gaunt but that was him ready for the tour. So that is being in shape in another way. But I was fit for doing almost any sport. I could avoid serious injury because I was strong and flexible enough. I am pretty athletic so I always feel pretty good and healthy.

QUESTION: What sort of injuries did you get?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: My shoulders got pretty big so I couldn’t always grab on to something and sometimes there was a little pulling and tearing of tendons. There were some little muscle things and bruises and cuts…but no big deal. I accepted that aches and pains are part of the job. I want to go after the things that I want to do or I am inspired by
Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimePrince of Persia: The Sands of Time

QUESTION: How have you coped with fame? Have you become more comfortable as you have got older?

  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL: Up until now I have had an interesting perspective because I haven’t been so clear about all the things that I want to do or who I was. Now I think I feel much more comfortable with it because I am more comfortable with what I want to do and who I am and what I care about. A lot of this stuff is great fun, I have a good sense of humor and I enjoy laughing. I want to make movies that are like that and spend time with good people. This is our day so you should have a good time doing it. That is my perspective on it now.


When Jake Gyllenhaal signed up to star in the action movie Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, he called on fitness expert Simon Waterson to help transform his lean and lithe body into that of a muscle-bound warrior. “The ultimate goal with Jake's training was to provide a functional, strong and agile physique which would enable him to carry out the huge workload and stresses he'd have to undertake as Prince Dastan in the movie,” explains Waterson. “My main aim was to build athleticism because his scenes included running, jumping, climbing and sword-fighting – but he also had to look amazing, too.”
So exactly how did Waterson – a former Royal Marine – approach the personal training with Gyllenhaal? Read on to discover the intense daily workout regimen tackled by the Hollywood actor in preparation for the physically demanding role…

5 A.M.

“We’d start the day very early with a strong black coffee and a pre-workout snack of half a banana and some nuts,” explains Waterson. “Jake was staying in London at the time, so we’d drive to Hyde Park to work out on the sand horse tracks, which would mimic the sand of Morocco where much of the movie was filmed. Every workout would start of with warm-up exercises and stretches – and then Jake would put on a 20lb-weighted jacket to simulate the armor he would wear in the movie. He’d run around on the sand for 30 to 40 minutes before spending an hour on cardio exercises including sit-ups, press-up, squat thrusts and uphill sprints. Finally, we’d finish off with some stretches and a cool-down session – and then we’d head home.”

7.30 A.M.

“Jake would eat breakfast around 7.30 A.M. every morning. This would consist of an egg white omelet with a piece of rye toast and half a protein shake with blueberries, raspberries and almonds. After a shower, he’d head off to the studio for the day where he’d work on the pre-production of the movie. He’d be involved with stunt rehearsals, fight choreography, costume tests and script run-throughs before returning home for his evening workout.”

10 A.M.

“It was essential to keep Jake well fueled throughout the day, so he would eat small and often. A small snack consists of anything from a cereal bar to a power bar or half a protein shake and some nuts or dark chocolate.”


“A typical lunch would be a light meal of brown rice, chicken and a dark green, leafy vegetable like broccoli, steamed asparagus or spinach. Alternatively, he’d have a baked potato with tuna and salad.”

Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimePrince of Persia: The Sands of Time

2 P.M. AND 4 P.M.

“Afternoon snacks would often involve crudités like carrots and broccoli or celery with some kind of dip, like hummus or ranch. He’d eat every two hours in preparation for the intense workouts.”

6 P.M.

“We’d tackle a lot of circuit-based training in the hour-long evening session. This involved pull-ups, plyometrics, jumps and sit-ups. We’d use things like kettle bells during these exercises, as well as cables to simulate sword fights. We would end the session with a couple of compound exercises before stretching and cooling down. A compound exercise is an exercise where you use multiple muscle groups and you lift heavy weights. Typical examples of compound exercises are dead lifts, shoulder press and bench press exercises. These would allow Jake to develop muscle tissue, which gave him the aesthetics for the character.”

7.30 P.M.

“If possible, Jake would get a half-hour deep tissue massage after the evening workout. This would help get blood into the right areas to heal and prevent muscle soreness – and to make sure the muscles were ready to work again the next day. For dinner, he’d eat a lean piece of meat or a little bit of sushi. Anything protein-based and lean would work, but if we finished late and it was within two hours of going to bed, it would better to have soup instead. A light soup like chicken and sweet corn soup works wonders because it’s easier to digest while you’re trying to sleep.”

9 P.M.

“I’d always suggest Jake get to bed as early as possible because he’d have to be up before 5 A.M. every morning to tackle another day of intense exercise and work. There was never time for a late night with a workout regimen like this, but Jake put in 100 percent of effort and it all paid off with a remarkable level of fitness and a great movie role. It all worked out in the end.”

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME Available on DVD and Blu-ray September 14th, 2010