‘The Guilty’ is a Netflix crime thriller starring Antoine Fuqua and Jake Gyllenhaal, the latter of whom plays a 911 operator trying to locate a victim. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival and a limited run in theaters before its streaming release.
With its unique premise, Gyllenhaal and Fuqua discussed in an interview the difficult and “unique challenges” of acting through a phone call.
“It is a film about sound, about listening, about what you hear, and what the reality is,” said Fuqua. “Capturing that is a whole other story, practically, because at that time we were filming, it was during the height of COVID, so we couldn’t have actors going to a regular stage and record, so we had to come up with a system with our sound guy on how to get these special boxes to actors who were all over the world, and then get their recording, but then do it live with Jake while he’s in a room performing, without any glitches.”
He continued, “Well, that didn’t happen at all. I think he had about five or six different voices in his ear at the same time because of the technical issues. We had to work off of the Zoom system as well. We figured it out eventually. I think Jake had probably performed each scene like it was a play, constantly, over and over and over, because the calls were coming back-to-back. There’s not a lot of cuts in between each call, so we had to almost do the entire script, in certain sections, as a play, with voices in his ear. It was challenging but it was amazing because of what happens naturally: it makes you lean in more because it was so difficult to hear. We use a lot of the dialogue from the first Zoom calls, ’cause the performances are just so raw, and, and a lot of Jake’s performance was so intense.”
Gyllenhaal, who also serves as a producer on the film, explained, “When I first sent the script to Antoine, what I said was, ‘Let’s shoot this movie in five days.’ That really got us going excited, the idea that we could shoot the movie in a very short period of time, the pressure would be on, just like it’s on Joe Baylor’s character. And if there’s anything I know about Antoine, he loves that pressure, and we both thrive in that space.”
He added, “So, we set this goal for ourselves, and slowly, that 5 days turned into 11 days. So we shot the movie and scheduled it for 11 days, and we designed this idea that we break it up into five sections and each one would be around 15 to 20 pages, and we’d shoot one of those sections every day. So, I would prepare Section 1, 2, 3, 4, and I would call Antoine as a secret and I’d say, ‘I have 1 to 4 memorized.’ He said, ‘Don’t tell anybody. We still have 11 days. Maybe we can shoot it in 9.'”
‘The Guilty’ streams to Netflix on October 1, 2021. You can watch the trailer below:
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