Taylor Swift's Awkward Response May Have Confirmed All Too Well Theories After Years of Fans Speculating

Taylor Swift in 22 music video, Jake Gyllenhaal in Wildlife
(Image credit: Big Machine Records/Sony)

From calling out Joe Jonas on “Mr. Perfectly Fine” and “Forever and Always” to her Harry Styles nods in “Style,” Taylor Swift is known for not holding back on her breakup songs. The ex who has been in question the longest is probably Jake Gyllenhaal, with their shared past resurfacing by way of the 10-minute version of "All Too Well" on Swift's re-released version of Red. The rumors have swirled around this song for years, but after the release of the short film All Too Well and the way Swift stammered through an interview question at the Toronto International Film Festival, some long-standing fan theories about a certain scarf appear to be closer to truth than ever.

In the song, Swift mentions the scarf that fans have long obsessed over with speculation that it could metaphorically represent the singer losing her virginity to Gyllenhaal. Then, when the singer released her short film, said scarf became an even bigger part of the narrative. The female in the video for "All Too Well", portayed by Sadie Sink, leaves the scarf in the house of a man played by Dylan O’Brien, and when the scarf is shown again in the end, O’Brien’s character is wearing it while looking through a window at Sink’s character, after the two had broken up.

A few months after the short film's release, and a few weeks after its win at the VMA’s, Swift screened it at TIFF and then took part in a Q&A discussion about the making of it. When asked directly what the scarf stood for, the Grammy queen had a very awkward reaction. 

The scarf is a metaphor. Um, and we turned it red because uh red is a very important, um, color in this album called Red. Um, and I think when I say it’s a metaphor I’m just going to stop and I’m going to say thanks for the incredible question to whoever asked it. You’ve really taken us for a ride with that one.


♬ original sound - tasha

All these ums are not typical for a Swift answer. She is well-spoken and typically gives confident and well-worded responses. The fact that she fumbled quite a bit over her words to create an overall awkward answer seems to allude to the fact that this song is centered around a sensitive subject. 

To shed some light on a possible reason for the awkward response: back in 2014, a source told Radar Online that Swift had lost her virginity to Gyllenhaal. Not long after, she celebrated her 21 birthday party, which the Donnie Darko actor did not attend, reportedly leaving her devastated. A party similar to this is depicted in the All Too Well short film, which made fans even more confident that the metaphor of the scarf is in fact about her losing her virginity. 

It’s fairly obvious that the song is depicting Swift and Gyllenhaals’ relationship. Swift has admitted that Red is her “only true break-up album” and fans were quick to call out Gyllenhaal. 

The two dated when Swift was 20 and Gyllenhaal was 29. As for the actors in the video the age gap matches. O’Brien is 31 and Sink is 20. Further confirmation about who the song is about came when Gyllenhaal commented on the video, saying he does not “begrudge” Swift for using her personal experience in her art. 

Though the rumors continue to swirl, both the All Too Well singer and the Nightcrawler actor have moved on. Swift has been in a relationship with actor Joe Alwyn for years, and they’re still happily together, as seen when they were caught being cute at the VMA’s a few weeks ago. She also announced her new album Midnights and wrote an original song for Where The Crawdad’s Sing, as well as re-released her song “False God” for The Summer I Turned Pretty, which can be watched with an Amazon Prime subscription

So, while things may not have been all too well back then, and may be all too awkward right now, fans' attention and speculation will likely shift, especially with Swift's new album coming out soon. Which will no doubt lead to new swaths of clue-seeking and detective work.

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.