May 27, 2010 / 1:00 PM / 9 years ago

A Minute With: Jake Gyllenhaal on "Prince of Persia"

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Actor Jake Gyllenhaal goes blockbuster in his latest movie “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” an adaptation of the video game series which hits U.S. movie theatres on Friday.

U.S. actor Jake Gyllenhaal poses for a photograph at his hotel in central London May 5, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

In the film, estimated to have cost $150-200 million to make, Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, a boy adopted by King Sharaman who becomes embroiled in a quest to protect a magic dagger that can access mysterious sands capable of turning back time.

The special effects-laden, action-packed adventure is directed by Mike Newell and also stars Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and Gemma Arterton.

Gyllenhaal, 29, sat down with Reuters in London recently to speak about the role.

Q: You are best known for edgy, dark film roles. Why are you doing Prince of Persia, and why now?

A: “I think it was about time I stopped taking myself so seriously, and I think to learn as an actor and as any artist that there are different facets to what you do.

“I have been told often that I have a good sense of humor and the slew of movies that I’ve done, starting with this movie to the movie I just did with Anne Hathaway (“Love and Other Drugs”) and then a movie I just did with Duncan Jones (“Source Code”) all have incorporated that sense of humor and a sense of fun, and I think a sense of real entertainment. Those were the movies that I loved always when I was a kid. I loved Indiana Jones. There were movies I remember that were told for children or the child-like part of ourselves. Some of them are really dark, some of them are light, I consider this (Prince of Persia) as sort of lighter, but that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to tell a story and be in a story that was great fun.

“When I was a little younger, and I did start (acting) so young, I think you tend to try and be a little bit more of what you think other people might want or what people might consider to be interesting. And then I think I found that I’ve just decided to do what I find interesting. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to do films that are darker later on.”

Q: Also, you have been linked with superhero, action-based parts in the past including Spider-Man and Batman.

A: “I’ve dreamed of playing characters like this. I love the idea of superheroes, people who do things that are a little beyond reality. I’m a really athletic person so it incorporates things I like to do in my daily life.”

Q: How about your preparation for this part?

A: “It was very technical. I started off learning how to do a British accent, and that took a few months, and from there it was sword fighting training and parkour and acrobatics, and everything was very technical. Making a movie like this you have to hit your mark or someone else is going to get hurt so I think the technicalities of it were very different from anything I had ever done.”

Q: Is the recent success of actors like Robert Downey Jr., Tobey Maguire and Johnny Depp helping to make action-based movies more widely accepted among movie goers and critics?

A: “There have always been these large films. I like to think of this as a little bit more Errol Flynn in a way, I’ve always thought of it that way and I was always inspired by him in this movie.”

Q: Would you agree to acting in one or more Prince of Persia sequels should the studio want you to?

A: “Of course, if there’s an opportunity to do another one and people respond to it. I don’t think that’s really on our mind. I think our mind is to get this one out. But of course, it would be an honor. If an audience asks for a sequel, then that’s an honor.”

Q: Were you familiar with the video game on which this story is based?

A: “I played the original game, Prince of Persia, when I was a kid. It was on one of the first Mac computers. I really loved the original game. And then I lost touch with the game for a couple of decades and didn’t really realize how many incarnations it had come in, and then when I read the script I went back and saw it was hugely popular and totally unrecognizable.”

Q: Is the gaming community particularly hard to please when it comes to a movie audiences?

A: “I know ... this will not appease all gamers, and I know there is a lot of skepticism about the translation of a video game to a movie, but I also feel excited that I think we’ve done something that’s better than any of the (video game) translations that have come out thus far ... These games haven’t been given the respect they deserve in the movie world and I think (producer) Gerry (Bruckheimer) has done that. They (gamers) are tough, and I appreciate that. I come from a tough family. I don’t mind tough critics.”

Q: How much of the finished film is you in the action sequences and how much is special effects added later?

A: “I would say about half of it to three-quarters of it was me and then some of the stuff that is really extraordinary is definitely not me. There are some really cool things I do — there are some big jumps I do, some of the acrobatics, all of the fighting, any sword fight I would say. The physical part of it, that was really the best part, that was working with the best stunt people in the world. We were taking serious risks. I pretended like I wasn’t nervous. There were some crazy jumps.”

Editing by Steve Addison

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