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The Most Unimpressive Actor I Have Witnessed in My Lifetime

Adapting ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to the big screen was a major challenge for Peter Jackson, who worked tirelessly to please both fans of JRR Tolkien’s literary saga and lovers of the seventh art. One of the most difficult challenges was finding the perfect actors and actresses to embody the characters of Middle Earth, and his success (and that of his casting team) was such that today we cannot imagine Frodo or Aragorn with faces other than those of Elijah Wood or Viggo Mortensen.

But through the selection process names like Sean Connery (Gandalf), Nicolas Cage (Aragorn), Vin Diesel (Aragorn), David Bowie (Elrond), Kate Winslet (Éowyn), Liam Neeson (Boromir) and… Jake Gyllenhall, who auditioned to become Frodo but he failed in such a way that Peter Jackson went so far as to say that he was “the worst actor I have ever seen in my life.”

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At the end of the 90s, Jake Gyllenhaal was a young actor on the rise who had just starred in ‘October Sky’, Joe Johnston’s 1999 film. According to what he said a few years ago in an interview on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night, at that time At that time, his agents called him excitedly, telling him that New Line Cinema had just given the green light to a ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and that the director, Peter Jackson, was looking for actors to populate Middle-earth. Gyllenhaal humorously recalls that his agents told him he would be a perfect hobbit.

However, the interview continues with Gyllenhaal explaining how he screwed up when auditioning for Peter Jackson for ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.’ The actor describes the scene he played as an almost dialogue-free sequence, with Frodo picking up the One Ring. Unaware of the Ring’s weight in the narrative, Gyllenhaal played the scene casually. The actor even mockingly recreates his discreet audition, miming picking up the Ring with apparent indifference before asking Jackson how it was. According to Gyllenhaal, the director’s reaction was to hang his head, embarrassed for the young actor, and tap his face in despair.

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Jake Gyllenhaal, who just released ‘Road House: Hardcore’ on Prime Video, didn’t just fail in that scene. When he auditioned later with more dialogue, the Southern California-raised actor played the role of Frodo with his normal American accent. Gyllenhaal recalls that “[Jackson] He turned to me and said: ‘You are the worst actor I have ever seen in my life.’, and continued: ‘Did no one tell you you were supposed to have a British accent?’ I was like, ‘No!’ and he answered: ‘Well, then you should fire your agents’.

Although Peter Jackson has never commented on it, the incident is mentioned in Ian Nathan’s renowned book ‘Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle Earth’. Nevertheless, Peter’s daughter, Katie Jackson, denied on Twitter after Gyllenhaal’s interview that her father and the actor had even met in person. Who do we believe?

Headshot of Fran Chico

Fran Chico is an expert in cinema and series, specialized in cultural dissemination and film criticism. He is a recognized critic on Rotten Tomatoes and Filmaffinity. Although his favorite genre is horror, he tells you the same about Marvel’s new MCU blockbuster as he does about an auteur film to claim from the festival circuit. There is no series from Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+ that escapes your radar, delving into the catalog of each platform to recommend and analyze its best content.

Fran has been writing in Fotogramas for more than a year, but his beginnings date back almost two decades ago in film forums and blogs such as Planeta Claqueta or Moviementarios. He was founder and part of the board of directors of the digital publication of film criticism and analysis Revista Mutaciones and a member of the Association of Cinematographic Informants of Spain (AICE), the organization that awards the Feroz Awards, as well as a voter for the Blogos de Oro al indie movies. After completing the Master of Film Criticism at the Madrid Film School (ECAM) taught by Caimán Cuadernos de Cine, he has collaborated and/or covered film festivals such as San Sebastián, Sitges and Filmadrid as a specialized press for more than 10 years, along the way interviewing relevant directors, actors and actresses from the national industry such as Penélope Cruz, Carlos Saura, Ana de Armas, José Luis Cuerda or José Sacristán and internationally such as James Wan, Edgar Wright or Dario Argento.

His knowledge and experience have led him to be a film video blogger for Fnac Spain and director and host of the podcast Holocausto Zinéfago, with more than 150 programs broadcast and available in which cinema and humor are mixed from a unique and original.

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