By which, of course, I mean, the actor will be appearing on the July 11, 2011 season premiere of Discovery’s “Man Vs. Wild” televisual programme (9pm/8pm Central). Thus, he will mostly likely be sleeping in the company of the show’s host, Bear Grylls. What? What did you think the headline was referring to? Get your minds off of the Brokeback Mountain, people. That’s so 2006.
About his decision to take part in the show, Jake Gyllenhaal simply says that for him, “[I]t’s all about discovery.” Indeed, the wilderness is an alluring venture, and that mentality is why series like this and “Survivor Man” continue to exist. I’ve always liked Gyllenhaal, he is one of those few actors who has been worth paying attention for most of his career (probably not since City Slickers, but definitely since October Sky). I respect his talent, and he’s given us some memorable performances in the past — especially recently, in such heady fair as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. But, while we all know about the bike rides with Lance Armstrong, Donnie Darko just isn’t the first person to come to mind when I think about nature and survival skills.
Then again, neither is “Man Vs. Wild” or Bear Grylls, who on occasion has been known to fake the amount of danger he is in. Yes, he physically does the things he does (his stunts are captured on video for posterity, after all), but… I mean, c’mon. Even if you discount his detractors,dude brings a cameraman with him everywhere. Everywhere. That cameraman has to do everything that Bear does, while holding and not dropping expensive cameras, keeping everything in frame, and not falling to his death. Okay, he probably doesn’t eat the bugs — because the La Quinta Inn they’re staying at down the road serves a continental breakfast every morning, and those waffles don’t waffle iron themselves. I’m not saying I could do it, I’m just saying that Bear Grylls doesn’t really do it, either.
Nevertheless, Gyllenhaal’s episode centers on the pair’s two-day excursion to Iceland, which Discovery describes with no hint of irony as both “unpredictable” and “the worst conditions known to man.” Their announcement even alludes to Gyllenhaal possibly eating some relatively unappetizing meals, so that might be worth tuning in for. (Raw Crymostygius thingvallensis, anybody?) For his part, Grylls rather obviously states, “The wild is always very revealing - not only physically but mentally.” On Gyllenhaal he’s a bit more colorful: “You’ve got to smile when it’s driving horizontal hail and be able to face your fears and just get on and do it - and on both of those accounts, Jake came up strong.”
Well, OK. Good for Jake! But I still find it sad that there’s no time for cameraman love.
Rob Payne writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show/podcast We’re Not Fanboys, and you can find him on Twitter @RobOfWar. Yes, he is very well aware that Bear Grylls could take him in a fight, fair or not, but will always prefer “Survivor Man” for nature reality TV series.