The casting process for films is often more art than science. Many actors are considered for a role that ultimately can go to only one. Jake Gyllenhaal has, at various times, been considered for the roles of both Batman and Spider-Man and, while he ended up not getting either big role, he is very much at peace with that.
Speaking with the UK’s Daily Mail Gyllenhaal says not getting those franchise roles was neither a blessing nor a curse:
I believe whatever happens, happens for good. I was definitely open to both the roles (of Spider- Man and Batman). However at a certain point you realise there is always someone more interesting, talented and ready to do the role. In any case, you are not going to get every role you go for. So you can say I neither rue nor am I thankful for having not worked on these superhero films.
There was a point during pre-production of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 when it looked like Tobey Maguire may not be able to return due to back injuries he sustained while filming Seabiscuit. Gyllenhaal was considered as a replacement, but eventually Maguire was able to return to do the work. He was also up for the lead in Batman Begins which eventually went to Christian Bale. Losing out on roles is par for the course in Hollywood and as he says, you’re not going to get every role you go after so it’s nice to see that he doesn’t let it get to him.
We may take some issue with the idea that there are always people more interesting or talented, however. Over the years Gyllenhaal has put together one of the more interesting collections of work in the movies, which obviously show his talent. From Donnie Darko to Brokeback Mountain to Nightcrawler Gyllenhaal seems to always be working on something interesting, and the awards and nominations he’s received for those two latter films shows that many believe he has the talent.
In the end, his choosing to not rue missing out on the superhero roles may be because of the wide variety of projects he’s been able to do. In addition to the time commitment that these films tend to require, heavy effects movies take a while to film, plus there are the ever present sequels, would a casting director have cast the new Spider-Man in Brokeback Mountain? It’s possible he might have lost out in other roles if he’d landed one of those big parts.
While we’d love to see Gyllenhaal take a spot in the Marvel or DC Cinematic Universe if the right spot comes along, we’re also happy to just wait and see what’s coming next after Southpaw.