Skip to content Skip to footer

Jake Gyllenhaal: Road House

The original Road House was panned by critics, got a bunch of Razzie nominations, but it went on to become this revered action classic. Why has it endured?

It’s funny, I think about a movie that I made with Patrick SwayzeDonnie Darko. When it first came out, nobody saw it. Then, slowly, people started to find it, and really champion it. Movies do that, you know what I mean? If they have the essence of something profoundly charismatic, they find their way. Road House is definitely one of them. I think some of that has to do with Patrick. There’s something to be said about the power of a performance and a charismatic actor — particularly in today’s world, where there’s all this talk of A.I. replacing things. Real, human, wonderful, charismatic energy can last through decades . . . And the movie’s just great fun to watch. It has its weird, absurd moments, and we tried to take that spirit and maybe poke a little bit more fun in terms of tone and humour. That’s why Doug Liman was the perfect director to do it. He just knows action and comedy like nobody else.

Road House on Prime Video. Pictured: Jake Gyllenhaal as Dalton.
Amazon MGM Studios

Absurdity aside, there’s a very dark side to this version of Dalton. He’s a man who is afraid of himself — afraid of unleashing the monster within . . .

That was what Doug talked a lot about. I think he loves characters like that. Jason Bourne is a reference to him in that way — these people that live in this otherworldly space, trying to navigate through [the real world] and then ultimately going back into the shadows. There’s the mythological aspect to all of that, but yeah, [there’s] the line where he says, “I am afraid” . . . But his spirit is so positive. What motivates him in the end is that, when that stuff happens in the book shop [during the final act of the film], that’s where he’s like: “OK, I’ve had enough” — and that’s an inherent good. Ultimately, that’s what drives him.

One of the infamous moments from the original movie is the throat rip. You do have a little wink to that moment in this movie, in a scene that’s quite brutal and memorable in its own way. But did you ever discuss just going for a full throat rip?

I mean, listen, the number of times everyone’s asked me, “Will somebody’s throat get ripped out?” is probably a hundred. But I think this one is sort of more realistic? [Laughs] The action is over-the-top and fun — but with Doug, he didn’t want to “copy” anything. He wanted to mirror a spirit, but then do it in his own way. And I think he’s done that here.

Your main antagonist in this film is played by Conor McGregor — a real-life UFC legend, and a notorious wild man. Did he just inherently bring a little chaos and unpredictability to the set?

He said to me before we began: “I’m a white belt in making movies and acting, and I’m here to learn.” And I think he brought an intense commitment. You could feel it when you were working. He is a high-energy guy, that is for sure. There were definite moments, particularly in the first [fight scene], when we’re face-to-face with each other — that was the first scene we ever shot, we hadn’t actually met in-person . . . we hadn’t choreographed the scene together, we’d choreographed it separately and then we came in to do it together. In that moment, I thought: “What am I doing?” [Laughs] But then, all of a sudden, we did it, and he was like, “How was that? Was that good? Did that work?” And I thought, “Oh, OK — he wants it to be great.” That was the spirit when we were working together on this one.

Road House, streaming on Prime Video


Well, where to begin? One of Hollywood’s most beloved, in-demand superstars, Gyllenhaal sports a résumé overflowing with accolades, including career-launching cult oddity Donnie Darko and an Oscar-nominated turn in Brokeback Mountain, as well as Nightcrawler, Prisoners, Spider-Man: Far From Home and oh so many more.


Rebooting a gloriously over-the-top ’80s action classic, Gyllenhaal tags in for his late Donnie Darko co-star Patrick Swayze to play Elwood Dalton, a troubled UFC fighter recruited to beef up security at a Florida Keys roadhouse under attack from local thugs. A giddy swirl of bone-crunching action and tongue-in-cheek wit, the film is helmed by Bourne Identity director Doug Liman.

Leave a comment

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Ritatis et quasi architecto beat

Whoops, you're not connected to Mailchimp. You need to enter a valid Mailchimp API key.