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Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Very Good Day Inside a Dark, Windowless Room

A brief journey through every press junket interview for ‘Life’

(Wired/Ringer illustration)
(Wired/Ringer illustration)

It’s important to say this first: Press junkets are hard. A film or TV star is placed in a generic room, and media outlets are cycled through in 15-minute intervals. It is a construct with a primary goal of efficiency — promoting a movie or show to as many newspapers, magazines, and websites as possible in as little time as possible — and a complete disinterest in substance. Stars often struggle to handle the repetitive mundanity of press-junket interviews, though in different ways. They rebel against the mandate that they sell their movie, they find themselves unable to fake chemistry with their costars, they toy with the interviewer — who, it should be noted, has spent sleepless nights trying to come up with questions or prompts that against all odds might elicit one genuine moment — or they just go completely silent. I don’t think Ben Affleck was pondering the utter sadness of human existence in that now-infamous Batman v Superman junket interview, he was just questioning how long he had been in that room — days, weeks, years?

But once in a great while, everything aligns — like when Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal recently spent a day together doing press junket interviews for their movie Life in Austin, Texas.

Watching multiple interviews from one junket is usually only a lesson in how many different ways there are to say, “I really related to this character.” But digesting all of the interviews Reynolds and Gyllenhaal did for Life was illuminating. Here is what I learned.

Jake Gyllenhaal ❤ Ryan Reynolds

We need to start here, because this observation informs the rest of the lessons. Usually, interviews like this aren’t Gyllenhaal’s forte. The press junkets for Nightcrawler and Nocturnal Animals put the actor’s more eccentric qualities and shyness under a spotlight, and he came off either disinterested or simply unable to connect to fellow humans. But those interviews did not have what the Life interviews have: the love of Jake Gyllenhaal’s life, Ryan Reynolds. Does anyone look at you the way Gyllenhaal looks at Reynolds?

In high school terms, Reynolds is the cool senior everyone loves — the prom king who happens to be nice and funny — and Gyllenhaal is the theater nerd who no one realizes is hot until he takes his glasses off. In each of these interviews, Gyllenhaal is trying so hard to please Reynolds. He laughs really hard at Reynolds’s jokes, compliments him on his feminist values — “if you maintain this idea of this hierarchy … it doesn’t [work]. That’s why I adore this guy, because that never comes into play” — and he apes Reynolds constantly, seemingly out of sheer admiration. Since Reynolds’s default is “sarcastic and dick-ish in a funny way,” Gyllenhaal does his best to become that as well. Watch what he does when an interviewer gives him a Deadpool memento:

That’s not a Gyllenhaal move — that’s a Gyllenhaal-trying-to-impress-Reynolds move, and it’s adorable. Also — and I promise this is the last point about how much Jake Gyllenhaal loves Ryan Reynolds — another one of these interviews begins with Gyllenhaal saying the following: “I am unapproachable in these interviews, usually, so they’re just like, ‘What’s going on with Gyllenhaal?’ So [here], it’s Reynolds.”

Jake Gyllenhaal ❤ Experimental Fashion

Reynolds wore a Hawaiian shirt to press day — a fact that DID NOT GO UNNOTICED by any participating media outlet. The reason Reynolds chose this article of clothing is somewhat of a mystery. In one interview, he claims an airline lost his bag. In another, he implies he wore the shirt to symbolize his blatant ambivalence. Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, wore a basic-ass shirt that he believes rides too far up his neck:

It doesn’t; it’s a regular shirt. Nonetheless, this contrast in apparel bothers Jake Gyllenhaal to no end throughout the day. At one point, he calls himself Frankenstein, unable to see that Reynolds likes him regardless of how his Oxford fits.

Ryan Reynolds Does Not Know “Bad and Boujee”

This was Jake Gyllenhaal’s One Shining Moment. After a full day of trying to impress Ryan Reynolds, an opportunity of true superiority presented itself when Reynolds called Migos “the Atlanta band” in an interview with Wired. To his credit, Gyllenhaal, who likely did not know what “Bad and Boujee” was until Donald Glover mentioned it at the Golden Globes, kept his composure. Laughing at Reynolds’s ignorance and shrugging his shoulders like a real Steve McQueen, Gyllenhaal hit him with the nonchalant “It’s cool.” Well played, champ.

Jake Gyllenhaal Is Still Working Through Some Things

Jake Gyllenhaal is a very good actor. That he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for Nightcrawler is an injustice. Furthermore, moody men who were teens in the early 2000s owe him for Donnie Darko. But Jakey Gylls isn’t exactly built for off-the-cuff interactions. He’s too weird. If you let him go off on a tangent, something bizarre will come out of his mouth. Like, if you ask him if Ryan Reynolds is related to Ryan Gosling, he might say, “Canada had sex with America and then they made the two of them, they’re twins, and both of them tried to eat each other in the womb, but they didn’t, they survived.” And then he’ll look at you like:

This is not the guy you want giving an impromptu speech at a wedding. “AND THEN DAN’S FACE WILL MELT DOWN INTO A CAST OF CHRISTINE’S HEART!” Ya gotta keep Gyllenhaal on script. But, if you absolutely must lock him in a cold, dark room for most of the daylight hours, at least make sure there’s a charming man in a colorful shirt to help him through it.