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Why Peter Jackson Once Called Jake Gyllenhaal the ‘Worst Actor He’s Seen’

Why Peter Jackson Once Called Jake Gyllenhaal the ‘Worst Actor He’s Seen’


  • Gyllenhaal’s early audition disaster with Peter Jackson for Frodo in The Lord of the Rings shows even the best actors have rough starts in their careers.
  • Despite initial setbacks, Gyllenhaal’s career has thrived with his versatile performances and strategic role choices over the years.
  • Gyllenhaal is now a Hollywood staple, carefully picking roles that showcase his talent and dedication, ensuring his lasting success.

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the most important actors in today’s cinema industry. Not only can he help a film from a commercial point of view, but the actor, who comes from a family of artists, is a solid performer. It doesn’t matter the role; you can rest assured that Gyllenhaal will deliver the best version of himself. Today, he’s a Hollywood staple many directors wish they could work with.

However, it wasn’t always like this. Like every other career, it took a lot for Gyllenhaal to get to where he is today. The star of the recently-released reboot of Road House appeared on some talk shows during his press tour, and when he sat beside Jimmy Fallon for The Tonight Show, he clarified that there were some very bad auditions during his film career. One thing he particularly remembers is when he sat down with Peter Jackson to audition for the role of Frodo for the first film in the Lord of the Rings franchise. It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure.

The Story Behind Gyllenhaal’s Terrible Lord of the Rings Audition

Gyllenhaal says he was in a press conference with several agents who were screaming with excitement as it was confirmed that the New Zealand director would adapt Tolkien’s massive series, The Lord of the Rings. Instantly, they thought of Gyllenhaal for the part of a certain hobbit.

However, what should have been a success story for the actor turned out to be a nightmare. First, there weren’t any lines to read. So, he had to rely on pure physicality to find a ring in props. When he picked it up and sought Jackson’s approval in the room, the director simply indulged in a horrible facepalm, meaning he wasn’t exactly happy with Gyllenhaal’s take on the iconic “Frodo finds the ring” scene. Later, when he did have some lines to read, the result wasn’t better.


Lord of the Rings: Best Performances in the Trilogy, Ranked

The actors’ performances in the Lord of the Rings trilogy reawakened Hollywood to the prowess of fantasy. Here’s how they rank.

Jackson would go on to call him the “worst actor he had ever seen.” To his credit, Gyllenhaal didn’t know he was supposed to read with an accent, and Jackson simply advised him to get rid of his agents. In the interview, Fallon also mentions Gyllenhaal’s audition for the “classic” Dude, Where’s My Car? to which Gyllenhaal reacts pretty differently and ashamedly admits he also went to that audition.

Gyllenhaal Is Clearly a Good Actor

The experience should have taught him. Both Jackson and Gyllenhaal went on pretty different paths: Jackson would make one of the most important franchises in history with another actor in the Frodo part, and Gyllenhaal continued to build the career he’s famous for. The same year The Fellowship of the Ring was released, Gyllenhaal would make one of his most important films, Donnie Darko.

After that, Gyllenhaal would then show the industry what makes him indispensable in some of his movies. We’re talking about versatility and the ability to chameleonize into every role he has. Also, it appears as if there’s no genre Gyllenhaal can’t do. Drama remains his most effective setting, and with Brokeback Mountain, he got his single Academy Award nomination, but that one is not his most prominent performance.

In any case, there’s no doubt that he can do every kind of character with the same dedication. What’s even better is that the status he’s acquired throughout the years has allowed him to avoid some roles that wouldn’t require as much talent. You can be sure he handpicks wherever he wants to be—exactly the opposite of his experience with Jackson and the audition that taught him a lesson.

Gyllenhaal’s Career Speaks for Itself

The hobbit audition story is anecdotal and makes for a great joke. More than two decades later, Gyllenhaal’s career is solidly built on growth based on the careful selection of very important roles in some of the following films:


Year of Release

Brokeback Mountain






Source Code


End of Watch








Nocturnal Animals


The Covenant


The actor who started his career playing Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers didn’t always have it easy. His parents didn’t allow him to participate in The Mighty Ducks because this would cause him to drop his studies. But seven years later, he would star in his first leading role in Joe Johnston’s October Sky, an underrated biography and one of his best roles.


Jake Gyllenhaal: The Alfred Hitchcock of Acting

For providing indelible performances within several high-quality thrillers, Jake Gyllenhaal should be labeled the greatest thriller actor ever.

Today, Gyllenhaal’s career speaks for itself. Road House gave him exposure as a potential action star with a great dramatic range, and soon, we will see him in a project that will reunite him with Guy Ritchie. We don’t see how Gyllenhaal can fail an audition today. He’s the kind of actor you call and beg for his participation, but in the Hollywood universe, things aren’t exactly as they appear. Gyllenhaal’s latest, Road House, is now streaming on Prime Video.

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