Oscar-nominated film heartthrob Jake Gyllenhaal is prepping to make his New York stage debut in Nick Payne's If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet, which begins performances on August 24 at Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre. Gyllenhaal fell in love with live performance after co-starring with Anna Paquin and Hayden Christensen in a 2002 London production of Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth, but movie stardom interfered with his desire to pursue theater.
“What I loved most about working in London, in the theater, there was a real appreciation of potential,” Gyllenhaal told the New York Times. “No one comes out of the gate 100 percent perfect. No one. I have a great sense of comfort onstage because I know taking risks is appreciated.” Rather than pursue a high-profile Broadway role, the 31-year-old actor will play a heartbroken drifter who forms a surprising bond with his overweight and bullied niece (Annie Funke) in If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet.
Gyllenhaal recalls being enthralled by Patti LuPone's rendition of "I Get a Kick Out of You" during a childhood outing to the 1987 Broadway revival of Anything Goes (though he admits he eventually fell asleep). But his impetus to take the stage again became stronger after seeing his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal starring in Classic Stage Company's revivals of Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters.
"Around the time I hit 30, I asked myself if I was respecting acting as a craft,” Gyllenhaal said of his career path, “and if I was doing the right projects that deserved my attention and where I’m learning in a way that you might not feel at 15. So now it’s like I look at acting more as building little delicate cricket cages, with care and more thought.”
If There Is I Haven't found It Yet will open September 20 at the Laura Pels Theatre. The limited engagement is scheduled to run through November 25.