Jake Gyllenhaal Refused to Say His Lines in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ Because the ‘Dialogue Sucked’

At a very young age, Jake Gyllenhaal was already starring in feature hits Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain. Around that time, he also added the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow to his filmography.

While starring in Tomorrow, however, Gyllenhaal couldn’t help clash with the film’s screenwriters because of their dialogue.

Dennis Quaid gave Jake Gyllenhaal a stern talking-to because of Gyllenhaal’s behavior in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’

Jake Gyllenhaal at the 'Strange World' premiere.
Jake Gyllenhaal | Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

The Day After Tomorrow was one of Gyllenhaal’s first experiences doing a big budget film. Up until that point, the actor was more accustomed to starring in smaller projects. So acting in the Roland Emmerich disaster flick proved to be challenging for Gyllenhaal in a variety of ways. Especially since the actor approached the movie as more of an independent film than a blockbuster.

“You should have seen me, I was independing it,” Gyllenhaal once said in an interview with Black Film. “I was not hitting my mark and being in the moment and doing whatever I needed to do, and they’re like, ‘There are 800 extras behind you, dude. You’ve got to hit the mark.’ And Roland is like, ‘And there is an enormous wave that I’m figuring out, so you need to be in the blue screen.'”

Eventually, his Day After Tomorrow co-star Dennis Quaid felt like he had to step in to give Gyllenhaal some stern advice.

“I remember Dennis kind of sitting me down one day and saying like, ‘You gotta chill out. It’s an action movie.’ He was funny about it, but he was like, ‘You have to make this work,'” Gyllenhaal remembered.

Jake Gyllenhaal refused to say his dialogue in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’

Gyllenhaal had a particularly difficult time adjusting to the movie’s writing, and translating what was on the page to the big screen.

“The most challenging thing for me was making scenes that I think have very little sub-text have some reality to them. You have to get so much information in such a short period of time. Making something feel like you’re actually saying it and it’s not some plot device was really hard for me,” he said.

Gyllenhaal also wasn’t too fond of the dialogue, which he let those in charge of the film know personally.

“There were a couple of instances where I said, ‘No way am I saying that line!’ And they rewrote it,” he once said in 2004 according to Contact Music. “There won’t be any subtitle saying, ‘Sorry, these guys don’t sound like real human beings, but they just didn’t have the balls to say the dialogue sucked.'”

Gyllenhaal came from a family already a part of show business. His father was a filmmaker and his mother was a screenwriter. Gyllenhaal believed his mother’s experience with writing made him a bit more sensitive to the flaws in the film’s script.

“Coming from a family where my mom is a writer, I just respond to how people speak. I thrive on the process of getting this stuff right,” Gyllenhaal added. “It drove them crazy, but it was fun. You have to entertain yourself when you’re spending seven months in Montreal.”

Jake Gyllenhaal recently forgot Dennis Quaid played his dad in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’

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A lot has happened since Gyllenhaal’s time in The Day After Tomorrow. The actor has gone on to star in several critically acclaimed movies, and is typically cited as one of Hollywood’s best performers. So much time has passed, however, that Gyllenhaal forgot his co-star Quaid was in the movie.

During an interview with Yahoo, Gyllenhaal was reminded by a reporter of his collaboration with Quaid on the disaster film. It was something Gyllenhaal couldn’t believe at first.

“We did? Oh…Oh, oh! Whoah! That’s the guy who played my dad,” Gyllenhaal said.

Later on in the interview, he quipped that the reporter completely caught him off guard with the revelation.

“Wow that’s cool. You know we’ve been doing a lot of interviews and you just blew my mind,” Gyllenhaal said.

Gyllenhaal and Quaid found themselves working again years later in the recent animated feature Strange World.