You won’t Recognise Jake Gyllenhaal in Latest Film Southpaw

The 34 year old Oscar Nominee, Jake Gyllenhaal, is almost unrecognisable in the first still from his next film, Southpaw, directed by Training Day and the Shooter helm Antoine Fuqua. Southpaw is a boxing drama that pits Gyllenhaal as a down on his luck boxer who fights for not only his career, but his family.

Jake Gyllenhaal unrecognaisble from his last film, Nightcrawler, where he played a spindly crime journalist.

Gyllenhaal is reported to have gained a grand total of fifteen pounds of muscle for this role. It is especially more of a shock considering only recently we saw him as the thin and pale greaseball that was Lou Bloom in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler – where he lost 30 pounds to play the night-time crime journalist.

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this was an actual boxer but as it turns out, he practically eats, sleeps, and acts like one now. The film’s director, Antoine Fuqua, spoke out to Deadline about how Gyllenhaal went from Bloom to ‘beast’, “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.”

Southpaw, written by Sons of Anarchy’s creator, Kurt Sutter, and Equalizer’s Richard Wenk, is going to focus on a professional left handed boxer (Gyllenhaal) called Billy “The Great” Hope, who loses all hope when, after winning a huge fight for the title,  suffers a tragedy that changes his whole life and his family’s.  From there, Billy Hope must fight to get his life back to what it once was, and to also win the respect of his younger daughter back.

That kind of plot line may sound familiar: the fighter who goes from fighting as a job, to fighting to get his whole life back. However, with a director who knows how to handle these gritty, down-on-your-luck stories like Fuqua does, and the fact that one of the most in-form actors on screen right now is leading the cast, we can be excused for being excited.

The rest of the cast isn’t bad either. The film will feature Rachel McAdams as Billy’s wife, Maureen. Forest Whitaker as a one eyed boxing trainer called  Titus “Tick” Willis, Naomie Harris as Angela Rivera, Victor Ortiz as Ramone, and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, whose role is not specified at this time.

50 Cent, at one point, wasn’t the only rapper who was down for a role. The Real Slim Shady, Eminem, was due to play Gyllenhaal’s role from the start of production, as Kurt Sutter stated when the film was first announced in 2010 that he wanted Eminem to play the lead role because Billy Hope’s struggle seemed reminiscent of Eminem’s struggles through life, “his own life has been a brawl,” said Sutter “in a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life.”

“At its core, this is a retelling of his struggles over the last five years of his life, using the boxing analogy. I love that the title refers to Marshall being a lefty, which is to boxing what a white rapper is to hip hop; dangerous, unwanted and completely unorthodox. It’s a much harder road for a southpaw than a right handed boxer.”

Eminem later dropped out due to unknown reasons. Nevertheless, it’s not the first time he’s done so; he was due to play the lead role in both Elysium and The Fighter which later went to Matt Damon and Mark Whalberg, respectively.

Eminem wasn’t the only setback the film received, it was dropped by various companies in the 2011 to 2012 period, before The Weinstein Company finally decided to take the plunge, and distribute the film in May of 2014.

But now we can all take a sigh of relief and wait (hopefully) not too long for our first taste of Southpaw’s grittiness in the form of a trailer sometime soon.

You will be able to go and see Southpaw when it battles its way to screen later this year.