If there’s one gimmick that never fails to pique my interest, it’s
sitcoms based on Twitter accounts actors radically transforming their physical appearance for a role. Christian Bale slimming down to an emaciated skeleton for The Machinist (and then beefing back up for Batman Begins) still stuns, as does the weight Jason Biggs gained for the I’m Going To Lay In This Hammock and Shove Crepes Into My Face remake.
Friday, we got a glimpse at another A-list actor who’s borderline unrecognizable in an upcoming film.
So who’s the pugilist? Bradley Cooper? Kellen Lutz? Andy Serkis post-CGI?
Nope, it’s actually this guy:
That’s right: The shredded-up boxer is none other than the Bubble Boy himself, Jake Gyllenhaal. The image — courtesy of Deadline, in case you couldn’t tell from the subtle watermark — is our first look at Southpaw, a Kurt Sutter-scripted flick about a former welterweight champion named Billy Hope who fights his way to the top only to lose everything in a personal tragedy. A white boxing champion? Never thought I’d see Sutter give comedy a try.
Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) spoke to Deadline about Gyllenhaal’s insane preparation for the role:
“Jake is going to change how people see him. I had him training twice a day in the boxing ring, he did two-a-days seven days a week. I pretty much had him with me and my trainer every day. I took him to almost every fight. I had him train at Floyd Mayweather’s gym in Vegas and we watched Floyd’s fights, and the Manny Pacquiao fight. He trained in New York at Church Gym with real fighters. We literally turned him into a beast. I’m confident that this will change how people see Jake, as a leading man.”
Here’s hoping Fuqua is right. Even after delivering four consecutive standout performances in End of Watch, Enemy, Prisoners, and Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal remains an overlooked leading man. Maybe Southpaw is the film that finally gets audiences to appreciate his overwhelming talent.
Southpaw stars Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forrest Whitaker, Rita Ora and Curtis “50 Feet Outside” Jackson, and hits theaters sometime next year.