×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jake Gyllenhaal and Margot Robbie on the ‘Massive Responsibility’ of Playing Real-Life People

Jake Gyllenhaal and Margot Robbie both play still-living people in their movies this year, and during Variety‘s “Actors on Actors,” the two opened up about the pressures that come with such roles.

In the film “Stronger,” Gyllenhaal portrays Jeff Bauman, a man who lost both his legs during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Gyllenhaal said that part of his struggle while portraying Bauman was finding the balance between respecting Bauman and his situation and telling the story.

“It was a huge responsibility. I felt a pressure beyond a pressure that I’ve ever felt before in terms of playing a character,” Gyllenhaal said. “I didn’t want to pressure [Bauman] too much, but there was this massive responsibility to get it right… What I always find interesting is that you always want to empathize with whoever you’re playing. That’s the seeming job of what we do, is to say ‘how do you love this person?'”

While Gyllenhaal took the time to learn about Bauman on a personal level, Robbie preferred to keep distance between herself and former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, who she plays in the film “I, Tonya.” Robbie said she did her research by watching video footage of Harding.

“I knew that if I met her and liked her I would never play this character properly,” Robbie said. “I would be sugar-coating her flaws. I would be trying to justify the bad things she might say or do in a situation. I didn’t want to do that because I’m a people-pleaser and I know it. To meet her, I didn’t want it to feel like research and change any of the decisions I had already made. I met her pretty much just so I could say, ‘Hi I’m playing a character and I want you to know there’s a difference in my mind between the character I’m playing and you.'”

The seventh season of Variety’s Actors on Actors,” presented by Google Home, will air from Jan. 2-4 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal KOCE.

More TV

  • Friends From College

    'Friends From College' Canceled by Netflix

    Netflix has canceled comedy series “Friends From College” after two seasons. “Friends from College will not return for a third season,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement Monday. “We’re grateful to creators Nick Stoller and Francesca Delbanco for creating a wise, funny and supremely relatable show. We also want to thank the hard-working crew, [...]

  • Mandy Moore

    Mandy Moore Opens Up About Her Marriage to Ryan Adams: ‘I Was So Sad’

    Mandy Moore opened up about her marriage to Ryan Adams on Monday’s episode of Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast. While the interview was taped before the publication of the Feb. 13 New York Times report in which multiple women, including Moore, accuse Adams of sexual misconduct or emotionally abusive behavior, she speaks freely about the “unhealthy dynamic” in [...]

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • Desus Nice The Kid Mero

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Academy Awards, 'Desus & Mero'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, the Academy Awards air and Desus & Mero make their debut on Showtime. [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    BBC Takes Stake in New Company Set Up by ‘Luther,’ ‘Bodyguard’ Exec

    BBC Studios has taken a minority stake in Firebird Pictures, the new drama indie being set up by BBC execs Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth. Kilgarriff’s credits include “Luther,” “Poldark,” “McMafia” and upcoming Richard Gere-starrer “MotherFatherSon.” She commissioned breakout drama hit “Bodyguard.” Holleworth will be the new company’s COO, having run business and operations for [...]

  • Punisher Jessica Jones

    Marvel's 'The Punisher,' 'Jessica Jones' Canceled at Netflix

    The last of Netflix’s Marvel shows are officially ending. “The Punisher” has been canceled after its second season, and the upcoming third season of “Jessica Jones” will be its last, Netflix confirmed on Monday. The announcement comes after Netflix gave the ax to its other Marvel series: “Daredevil,” “Iron First,” and “Luke Cage.” “Marvel’s ‘The Punisher’ will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content