Jake Gyllenhaal’s latest thriller The Guilty had a very interesting road to production thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The film marks Jake Gyllenhaal’s second collaboration with director Antoine Fuqua, having previously worked together on Southpaw in 2015. It turns out that having a prior working relationship was necessary for the duo given how much difficulty they had making The Guilty after the director was exposed to the coronavirus and had to quarantine for a majority of the film’s 11-day shoot.
That’s right, the movie, which will drop on Netflix on Oct. 1, was made in just 11 days. According to USA Today, the filmmaker had just under two weeks last October to get the film made under various pandemic safety protocols. After his exposure (which ultimately ended in a negative test) Fuqua decided to direct the film with a remote setup in a van parked a block away from the set. Thanks to the use of Zoom, a walkie-talkie and live feed monitors, he was able to digitally direct the movie while Jake Gyllenhaal was on set, mostly alone.
Per the nature of the film, it was easy to keep the cast distant as it mostly takes place over the phone. Jake Gyllenhaal plays LAPD detective Joe Baylor, who is currently demoted to 911 dispatch duty as a result of an undisclosed incident that happened eight months prior. The following day he has a court date that will either determine if he’s off the hook or forced to languish on 911 dispatch duty forever. However, a particularly rough night lies ahead of him.
The trailer reveals that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character gets a call from a woman who has been kidnapped. Pretending she’s calling her daughter, she manages to convey that she’s with an armed man in a white van. Unfortunately, there’s an ongoing wildfire so that’s not enough information for the LAPD to reasonably go on for a search. Instead, Jake Gyllenhaal’s character leans on his detective skills and does what he can from a phone, first calling the woman’s daughter for more information. What unfolds is a twisted tale that forces Baylor to confront his own personal demons in order to save a woman’s life.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the film is a remake of a Danish film of the same name, but presumably, that film wasn’t shot under the same stringent conditions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor was it marred by the many technical difficulties that Jake Gyllenhaal and Antoine Fuqua experienced. For example, the duo told the outlet of a time when the actor was filming a scene where stopping or second-guessing wasn’t really an option. Unfortunately, that’s when their technology went haywire. Jake Gyllenhaal experienced feedback from his earpiece that was connected to a Zoom call. For an entire 20-minute take, he could hear his own voice echoing back at him along with other people talking.
While most actors would freak out or stop the scene, Jake Gyllenhaal is a professional who knew that stopping the scene would cost time the 11-day shoot simply didn’t have. So, he forged ahead. The final film will contain a scene in which Antoine Fuqua defies viewers to notice that the highly skilled and “focused” actor is actually hearing several voices in his head at once.