LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He's a coyote, a starving coyote. Actually, he's a television reporter hankering for more blood and guts than anyone else. He's another deeply disturbing character for Jake Gyllenhaal.
In the new crime thriller "Nightcrawler," Gyllenhaal plays gaunt sociopath Lou Bloom, who trawls the streets of Los Angeles to film horrific crime scenes for use in early morning local television news.
But inside Bloom's introverted, oddball self lies someone with an intense desire to find success in the corporate world.
To tap into the primitive quality of Lou and his hunger, the actor decided to lose weight and use his own actual hunger at night for his scenes.
"We just had the idea that Lou was a coyote, and I think the idea of that drove me more than anything," Gyllenhaal said ahead of the film's opening on Friday.
"Every night on the set, he was starving. Literally starving," writer and first-time director Dan Gilroy said of Gyllenhaal.
"That energy comes through in every scene, there's just a weird, intense energy that's emanating from the character. It's not like he just wants to eat food, it seems like he wants to eat everything around him; people, ideas, he wants to eat jobs."
"Nightcrawler," which also stars Gilroy's wife Rene Russo as an older local TV news producer in fear of being edged out, follows Lou speeding around Los Angeles in the midnight hours, filming car crashes and crime scenes to feed stories about urban crime seeping into affluent suburbs.
For Lou, whom Gilroy describes as a lonely but somewhat endearing sociopath at times, death becomes a product as he gets closer and closer to the victims just to get the "money shot," and the bloodier and gorier it is, the more money for him.
"We always thought of it as a success story, so I never really thought of him as disconnected. I thought of him as a product," Gyllenhaal said.
"I think he takes these ideas and anthems of corporate America, and he takes them and uses them to succeed."
Made for an estimated $8 million, according to IMDB.com, and distributed by Open Road Films, "Nightcrawler" is projected by BoxOffice.com to open with $11 million this coming weekend.
The role sees 33-year-old Gyllenhaal, who was nominated for an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain" in 2006, inhabit yet another dark character on the edge, following gritty Detective Loki in last year's thriller "Prisoners" and a man driven into insanity after encountering his double in this year's "Enemy."
With three more dramas under his belt and his Broadway debut coming up in Nick Payne's "Constellations" at the end of the year, the actor said he uses the darkness to feed into his characters.
"A lot of roles transition into another," he said. "Recently I've been working movie to movie, and I'll take the end or the edge of one character and then it'll move me into another one."
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)