Jake Gyllenhaal’s beard brushes Anna Wintour on Southpaw red carpet in NYC

22 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A pugilist parable of transformation in ‘Southpaw’.

Not weeks after Hope – rich, happy, successful – has defended his belt and unblemished record, a fatal altercation strips him of his family, his mansion and his career. Hollywood heavyweights Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams joined a host of other stars, professional boxers and musicians last night at the New York premiere of “Southpaw,” a boxing movie that fights to build a father-daughter narrative between blood-spattered bouts.To play a boxing star in “Southpaw,” Jake Gyllenhaal had to transform himself into a bulked-up bruiser who could convincingly go twelve rounds with the fiercest and meanest guys in the ring.

Southpaw is in one sense an old-fashioned fight film, a melodrama about a troubled champ looking at the downside of his career through blackened, swollen eyes; minus cussing and a hip-hop soundtrack, the movie could have starred John Garfield or Wallace Beery.Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the role of a champion boxer who tries to turn his life around after tragedy strikes in “Southpaw”, a drama the Hollywood actor says is essentially about family. “That same rage destroys his whole life. Much of the buzz surrounding the movie centers on the intense training regimen that transformed Gyllenhaal into the ab-rippling light heavyweight Billy Hope. “Yes, he’s an actor, but he became a boxer,” said Victor Ortiz, a former welterweight champion who acts in the film. “He was very hard on himself.” Gyllenhaal joins a long list of notable actors—including Robert DeNiro, Sylvester Stallone and Mark Wahlberg—to portray a pugilist on screen.

Complicating matters, the actor was a few months removed from shooting “Nightcrawler,” last year’s highly acclaimed thriller that found him playing a gaunt crime scene cameraman seriously in need of a moral compass and a Cheeto. Throughout the film and his journey, he has to learn how to fight — not only in the ring but in life without rage.” “Boxing is a dog-eat-dog world. In able support are 50 Cent as Billy’s not altogether trustworthy manager; Forest Whitaker, channeling Morgan Freeman and Burgess Meredith, as a wily old trainer; Rachel McAdams as Billy’s sparkling, doomed wife (come on, you’ve seen the trailer); and, in the Jackie Cooper role, 12-year-old Oona Laurence, whom you might have spotted on Broadway, where she originated the title role in Matilda, or maybe while binge-watching Orange Is the New Black, on which she played young Pennsatucky.

There’s are a lot of people who are going to be your friends when you’re winning and like any business where there’s a lot of money involved, you take a long hit and everybody scatters.” Actress and boxing aficionado Rosie Perez listed “Raging Bull,” starring DeNiro in an Oscar-winning role, and best picture winner “Rocky,” starring Stallone, among her favorites.

Malcolm Mays, who plays a member of Hope’s entourage in “Southpaw,” is partial to “The Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington, which he describes as a “legal drama disguised as a boxing movie.” Along with his knowledge of boxing movie lore, Mays demonstrated a word-for-word recollection of 2Pac’s “California Love” at an after-party later in the night. But if its plot occasionally takes a soggy turn, Southpaw’s fight scenes have a head-snapping kineticism that ranks them with the genre’s greatest and left this writer literally ducking in his seat, he is a tiny bit embarrassed to say. I spent months on my footwork.” “Boxing will be a part of my life from here on,” said Gyllenhaal, adding, “What I was amazed by was the grace and the sensitivity that’s needed to be a great fighter. Olympic boxer Eric Kelly said he enjoyed the unique angle of Clint Eastwood‘s “Million Dollar Baby,” which won Oscars for best picture, best director best actress and best supporting actor in 2005. “I’m used to seeing it from a man’s perspective with ‘Rocky’ and ‘Ali,’ but you never really see it from a woman’s perspective,” Kelly said, adding that “Hilary Swank kicks more ass than you got fingers and toes.” Other notable attendees included rapper Eminem, who was writer Kurt Sutter’s original pick to play the lead role in “Southpaw,” and Gyllenhaal’s sister Maggie. People say, ‘Oh, boxing is brutal,’ and this and that, and I say, ‘You know what else is brutal is ballet.’” “Southpaw” finds Gyllenhaal playing a former champion who loses his career and his daughter after the murder of his wife (Rachel McAdams) sends him into a downward spiral.

A former Golden Gloves fighter himself, he put Gyllenhaal through a six-month training regimen, then shot the boxing matches as close to “live” and uninterrupted as possible. “To Jake’s credit, he’s a tough guy,” Fuqua said. “He got caught in the ribs a few times, took a couple shots to the jaw. Our first real view of Gyllenhaal is of him streaming toward the camera, emerging from a hazy blur a snarling, bloody spit of rage, rampaging across the ring.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who plays Hope’s manager, seemed undistracted by his recent bankruptcy filing as he took pictures with fans at the after-party. The intensity that Gyllenhaal brings to his roles and his chameleonic approach to acting is what convinced “Southpaw” producer Peter Riche that he could pull off the part. “He’s always bringing, you know, different material to work and poetry and music — anything that might spark something for someone else,” she said. You do one three-minute round and you’re toast.’ The 34-year-old Oscar nominee famously endured six hours of training, seven days a week, in Atlanta with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. to shape up for the part. Antoine Fuqua’s action drama – hitting US/UK theaters on Friday – also features Forest Whitaker, Naomie Harris, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Tyrese Gibson, and Rita Ora. His maturation as an intense, all-in shape-shifter has become especially clear of late in films like “Nightcrawler” and “Prisoners.” “Southpaw” is him romping in his new weight class.

She discovered that a ringside seat can be just as draining as taking the blows. “You never feel fully safe,” she said. “When you’re hot, everybody’s there, and then the second you lose a fight it’s like everybody goes away.” According to TMZ, Oona scored an impessive $100K from Disney to play Natalie in the studio’s 2016 remake of Pete’s Dragon – and a combined $600K for the two proposed sequels. ‘I’m fine.

I’ve just been going through a little legal issues,’ the Grammy winner explained on CBS’ The Talk. ‘I got some trained professionals to help me with it. Beyond the startling sight of the actor we once knew as Donnie Darko covered in muscles and tattoos, though, Gyllenhaal’s performance is most dynamic in his tender, mumbled moments with his wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams) or daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). The director prefers a visceral directness (he has made a comeback movie about a boxer named Hope, after all) and he’s favored a far more straightforward, authentic view inside the ring than, say, the impressionistic poetry of Scorsese’s “Raging Bull.” Instead, Fuqua and cinematographer Mauro Fiore have shot their fight scenes like broadcast television, copying its camera angles and piping in the commentary of announcers Jim Lampley and Roy Jones Jr.

He turns to an unglamorous trainer named Tick Willis (the reliably excellent Forest Whitaker), who spouts all the wisdom of boxing and life that a corner man should. The solid acting, led by Gyllenhaal and Whitaker, liven up the cliches, and Fuqua’s deep affection for the sport gives the movie a brisk, entertaining earnestness.

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