Jake Gyllenhaal Related A Lot To Donnie Darko, Except For All That Rabbit Stuff

When Jake Gyllenhaal signed on to “Donnie Darko,” he was only 19 years old. He had recently completed work on Joe Johnston’s “October Sky,” and he was excited to take on the role of Donnie in part because the character resonated with him. “I was frantically running around Los Angeles, doing loads of auditions. I remember pulling over to the side of the road to finish reading Richard [Kelly’s] script and being mesmerized,” he told The Guardian in 2016. The movie’s plot appealed to Gyllenhaal because it had roots in traditional filmmaking but also veered into stranger territory. “It was clearly influenced by classic directors — Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg — but with this strange psychosis,” he explained.

A teenager himself at the time, it seems that the complex struggles of Donnie really spoke to Gyllenhaal. “It beautifully captured the experience of moving into adulthood: The world that felt so solid becoming moveable and liquid,” he explained. The movie does haves an uncanny ability to pick up on the frailty of the boundary between childhood and adulthood, and for Gyllenhaal, Donnie’s coming-of-age story struck close to home with one significant difference. “This is what my adolescence felt like,” he told The Guardian. “Although I don’t speak, and have never spoken to, rabbits.” 

Considering how things end for Donnie in the film, that’s probably for the best.   

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