A relationship between an actor and the director is usually very close and personal but in the case of The Guilty, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, unusual circumstances forced them to never come face-to-face during the film’s 11-day shoot.

According to Gyllenhaal, during a chat with “Entertainment Weekly“, the actor was grateful for the relationship the duo formed while filming the boxing drama Southpaw because work on The Guilty required a certain amount of trust. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Fuqua was separated from the main cast on many occasions. Gyllenhaal says, “Because of our relationship and because I trust him so much, I’ll go anywhere for him. I just knew, somehow, when we were challenged, Antoine and I always get better.” Fuqua went on to explain the unique process:

“I had to have eyes on set [and] our main cameras, and a way to communicate with my actors via zoom and phone when it needed to be private. Jake and I would only physically see each other from behind the studio wall. Jake would climb on a ladder and I would open the door to my van, and we would communicate. I definitely missed the close contact with my crew, but everyone stepped up and we found a way.”

Gyllenhaal, who appears in almost every frame of the film, didn’t anticipate having the last-minute loss of his creative partner but he did know that he wouldn’t be working face-to-face with most of his co-stars. In the film, Gyllenhaal plays a 911 operator who tries to save a caller that is in grave danger and while ordinarily, they would mention the list of voices being filtered in and out during filming, Zoom-related issues during the production had the actor having some issues connecting with the ensemble cast.

“There was one computer, and it was in a drawer next to me, but I had no control of it. That drawer is the sound drawer, and it was also our first AD’s drawer. So he would open it, and he would talk to the actors and get them ready, half-close the computer, close the drawer, and then go to one other monitor where he could cue them. And only every since in a while, I looked over the right and I could see these 12 squares of people in their closet, on a bed, someone in their living room, someone literally stuffed between pillows to try and get the right sound. [Laughs] It was really fun, outside of how intense it is as a movie.”

Considering their limitations, the film’s trailer the was released yesterday makes it look like they pulled all of this off. Per the movie’s official logline, “The film takes place over the course of a single morning in a 911 dispatch call center. Call operator Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) tries to save a caller in grave danger—but he soon discovers that nothing is as it seems, and facing the truth is the only way out.” The movie also stars Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Riley Keough, Paul Dano, and Byron Bowers.

Written by True Detective series creator Nic Pizzolatto, The Guilty is based in Gustav Moller’s acclaimed Danish drama Den SkyldigeThe Guilty is set to open in select theaters on September 24, 2021, and will debut on Netflix on October 1, 2021.

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