After a series of heavy-hitting dramas, including Brothers, Rendition, and Brokeback Mountain, the actor is playing a character straight out of a video game console.
Based on the game Prince of Persia, Gyllenhaal portrays Prince Dustan, a street kid adopted by a king at a young age and brought up to be a sword-wielding warrior in sixth century Persia. The story follows a royal murder mystery and Dustan's adventure with a mystical dagger that can turn back time.
During a recent interview in London, Gyllenhaal was in a lighthearted mood:
Q: I'm presuming you've been offered loads of different action roles before, so what was it about Prince Dustan that really grabbed you?
A: Well, to me the moment I read the first sequence of the movie, which is the siege on Alamut where he's (Prince Dustan) jumping around and lighting things on fire and having a good time doing it, was the moment when I thought, 'There's a sense of humor here.' Here's one of those classic characters that's in the vein of Errol Flynn or Indiana Jones and those are the movies I loved when I was a kid.
Q: And had you played the video game before? Are you any good?
A: When I was 8 or 9 years old I played the original side-scroller game a lot. And then I took a 20-year hiatus and only picked it up when I was doing research for the movie -- which was very, very difficult research. It was hard. Three to four times a day I would have to be forced to go and play the video game. People don't really know how hard it is to be an actor and I can tell you how hard it is; it's working out every day and getting paid for it and also playing video games. So it's really been tough, a really tough road (laughs).
Q: Would you return to the role? Obviously Disney's got the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and this looks like it could run awhile, too.
A: Of course, I loved playing the role. I loved being a part of the movie. It's an incredible world, so if that were an opportunity, I would definitely take it.