Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rene Russo return to the terror of niche job culture.
A massive cast is assembling around Dan Gilroy’s upcoming Netflix horror-thriller. Re-teaming with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo after they traumatized us with Nightcrawler’s exceptionally biting assault on the 24-hour news cycle, Gilroy is looking to gather a crew of diverse talent to steal our attention to the streaming service. It looks to be a cocktail impossible to refuse, even if it might upset our stomach.
Variety reports that Gyllenhaal and Russo will be joined by Zawe Ashton, Natalia Dyer, Tom Sturridge, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, and John Malkovich. The details are slim but intriguing: “The plot follows big-money artists and mega-collectors who pay a high price when art collides with commerce.” It’s easy to draw battle lines between the actors, pitting Malkovich against Gyllenhaal, but Gilroy’s films often enjoy subverting casting expectations. No one is ever quite what they seem.
This cast might not be selling pictures on their own yet, but they’re certainly worth taking notice. Ashton appeared briefly with Gyllenhaal in Nocturnal Animals, but is probably most recognizable for her turn as Journey Blue on Doctor Who. Dyer, of course, was a major focus of our Stranger Things attention. Sturridge is a Tony nominated stage actor but has stolen entire films for his work in On The Road, Effie Gray, and Far From The Madding Crowd.
Diggs might be the name that personally excites me the most. He first gained notice as Thomas Jefferson in the Broadway show Hamilton, and he had memorable turns last year in both Wonder and (in vocal form) Ferdinand. But his work on the series The Get Down and Black-ish revealed a titanic talent on the cusp of audience ownership. He’s one stellar role away from owning all of us, and picturing him against Gyllenhaal in a Riz Ahmed Nightcrawler-like snafu scenario is a potentially tantalizing meal.
Offer Malkovich a hearty sandwich and he’ll pop up in your film, but given the right material, the actor has proven he can still bring the terror. For the three of you out there that watched Crossbones, you know Malkovich’s Blackbeard was a demon of the seven seas. Drop him in a Nightcrawler aesthetic and my goosebumps are already triggering.
Gilroy, ultimately, is the big draw. Nightcrawler scored him an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay but continued the frustrated conversation around the lack of recognition for Gyllenhaal’s full-metal performances. How far must an actor descend into hell before he’s awarded a little gold man? All the way down, I guess. Get ready for what comes next.
Sure, Gilroy’s Roman J. Isreal, Esq. nabbed Denzel Washington a surprise nod of recognition, but that was hardly the kind of film to stir deep passions. Given the free reign of Netflix, Gilroy and Gyllenhaal (who co-starred in Netflix’s Okja last year) could be on the verge of unleashing a monstrous beast. Will this film be more thriller or horror? That alone will steer my own attention. It’s a genre skimmed by Nightcrawler, but I’d love to see Gilroy and Gyllenhaal disappear into some real fear. Can a film centered in the art world reach such horrors?