French director Thomas Bidegain has cleared the air over rumors that Jake Gyllenhaal‘s behavior on the set of his latest film Suddenly shut down the whole production.
Last week, French magazine Technikart ran an article with the headline “Four Days to Bury a Movie” that claimed Gyllenhaal and his co-star Vanessa Kirby had left the film during pre-production in Iceland, and that resulted in a loss of $26 million.
Gyllenhaal was allegedly a pain throughout the set, doing things such as diving into the shivering, cold ocean, demanding the script be rewritten, and rehearsing scenes with a phony “Pepe Le Pew-like accent.”
In a recent interview with Variety, Bidegain didn’t address Gyllenhaal’s alleged behavior but claimed he parted ways with him and Kirby over creative differences. He also stated that Studiocanal, the company that financed the film, didn’t take a loss of $26 million. The film wasn’t in production when things went awry with Gyllenhaal and Kirby.
“People don’t understand how a film is made. We were not shooting, and we were not in pre-production. The tentative date of the shoot was eight weeks away,” said Bidegain. “This project came together during the pandemic, so we had only discussed via Zoom. We would talk every week, but we had not met to talk about the film.”
He continued, “So I came up with the idea of setting up that week in Iceland to read the script together, with Jake and Vanessa. I thought it would be good to meet there, since it was where we were thinking of shooting the movie, and it’s a beautiful place.”
Bidegain also revealed that Gyllenhaal was appointed a producer on the film after about a year of pre-production. He assumed things were going well as he had various Zoom calls with Gyllenhaal and Kirby. The director also corroborated parts of the Technikart story, specifically the leads asking for rewrites.
“When we started reading the script in the same room, we realized that we didn’t have at all the same vision of what the film was meant to be,” Bidegain said. “They wanted more and more changes. It’s normal when there are changes to the script before shooting, but this was different. We each had our own idea of what the message of the film was. I tried to smooth things over once, twice — and then I just realized it wasn’t going to work out, so it had to stop.”
Suddenly was eventually completed with a French cast including Gilles Lellouche and Melanie Thierry, and released to theaters on December 6, selling close to 250,000 tickets. The French producer, Attal, and financier/distributor Studiocanal stayed on board.