At least one filmmaker just couldn’t deal with Jake Gyllenhaal.
French director Thomas Bidegain told the website Technikart that in 2021, he pulled the plug on the English-language version of his film “Suddenly” after just four days of production, due to Gyllenhaal’s on-set antics in Iceland.
According to a HuffPost translation of the report, Bidegain said Gyllenhaal read the script in a mock French accent; demanded wild rewrites; forced set builders to sleep in their cars as a COVID precaution; and stripped down to his underwear in front of the crew to jump in the freezing ocean, while declaring, “When I see the sea, I swim in the sea.”
“Suddenly” was an English-language adaptation of French writer Isabelle Autissier’s novel “Soudain Seuls,” which follows a couple who become stranded on an island, per Deadline. The movie was supposed to be Bidegain’s sophomore directorial project following his successes as a screenwriter for the acclaimed films “A Prophet” and “Rust and Bone.” Gyllenhaal had signed on to the project as one of its producers and was to co-star in the film with “The Crown” alum Vanessa Kirby.
Reps for Gyllenhaal and Studiocanal — the studio that financed the project — refuted Bidegain’s claims to the AV Club, saying that Gyllenhaal and Kirby’s time in Iceland was merely “part of the development process” and that an English-language “Soudain Seuls” film was never actually greenlit. (Bidegain did eventually make a French-language adaptation, which premiered in 2023.)
A Studiocanal spokesperson also told the AV Club in a statement:
“Creative differences are very normal, if unfortunate, regularities in film development. In this case, there were concerns which simply could not be overcome despite great efforts on both sides. We greatly value all our relationships at STUDIOCANAL and are happy that Thomas Bidegain was able to fulfill his vision on the French language version of SUDDENLY. We remain deeply committed to our working partnerships with both Thomas Bidegain and Jake Gyllenhaal, with whom we have always enjoyed a very strong creative relationship.”
Bidegain told Technikart quite a bit about some of the “creative differences” he had with the “Brokeback Mountain” star.
Based on the trailer for “Soudain Seuls,” the film appears to be about a couple that accidentally gets stranded on an island and how they work together to survive against the elements.
Bidegain interpreted the overall meaning as, “This is the end of the world, and, perhaps, love can save us.” But Gyllenhaal thought it should be about “love of nature.” Bidegain said the “Nightcrawler” star came up with this new reading of the film after taking a walk in the woods and meeting a horse. He then returned to the writers’ room to sell his new concept in a truly bizarre way — by playing a video of a Greta Thunberg speech while he cried.
Gyllenhaal also tried to change elements of his character. Bidegain claimed that the actor wanted his character to be an G.I. who was accustomed to survival, and suggested the writers create a new scene for him in which Gyllenhaal slaps a fish.
The director also said that Gyllenhaal had a very specific request for his means of transportation, and asked for a car that was “neither red nor white.”
Bidegain also told Technikart that both Gyllenhaal and Kirby read the scripts in exaggerated French accents, like the cartoon character Pepé Le Pew.
“It was a little humiliating. I told myself that perhaps there’s a bit of shyness between the two of them, that they need to tame themselves.”