Jake Gyllenhaal Recalls Auditioning for 'Batman Begins' and 'Moulin Rouge' 

The actor sat down with Howard Stern and discussed missing out on major roles.

Jake Gyllenhaal recently delved into the memories of his past auditions, shedding light on the roles he narrowly missed out on, including the coveted part of Batman in Christopher Nolan's acclaimed trilogy and a lead role in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge

Speaking SiriusXM's The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday, the 43-year-old actor revealed the highs and lows of his career journey, showcasing resilience and humility in the face of disappointment.

Recalling the intense audition process for the role of the caped crusader in 2005's Batman Begins, Gyllenhaal described the surreal experience of donning the iconic costume for a screen test. 

"It was like a screen test," he told Stern of the final round of auditions. "You put the [Batman] costume on."

Despite his best efforts, the role ultimately went to Christian Bale. Funnily enough, Gyllenhaal's sister, Maggie Gyllenaal, ended up replacing Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne's love interest, Rachel Dawes, in the 2008 sequel, Dark Knight, which also starred Heath Ledger.

Similarly, in 2001, Gyllenhaal vied for a lead role in Moulin Rouge and was up against Heath Ledger and Ewan McGregor. "It was like me, Heath, and Ewan McGregor. It got that far. It’s where I first heard of Heath," he recalled of his eventual Brokeback Mountain co-star. 

Although he made it to the final rounds of auditions, McGregor ultimately secured the part.

Reflecting on these setbacks, Gyllenhaal confessed to disappointment but emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive outlook. "What I felt was disappointed when I didn’t get it," he admitted. “[But] in the end you … learn to go, 'There’s another one. I can try and go in and audition for another one. I'll get something else.' That’s the thing. You keep that attitude."

The actor highlighted the personal touch of rejection, noting that both directors reached out to him directly to deliver the news, emphasizing their respect and admiration for his talent. 

"When you get that far there's a real legitimacy," he said. "It's not like they're [just] going, 'Oh thanks so much,' you know? They're going, 'I saw these aspects of you that I really wanted in the role and I think are wonderful, but in the end I ended up moving [another] way."

Despite the setbacks, Gyllenhaal remained undeterred, acknowledging the validation of reaching such advanced stages in the audition process.

"If you start to pick away at that, it just doesn’t work. It's not healthy. So, I just go … let’s try and keep going," Gyllenhaal said. "At the time, I remember thinking … I just got a call personally from Christopher Nolan. That’s pretty cool. I've gotten pretty far."

Prime Video

Transitioning to his current project, Gyllenhaal shared insights into his rigorous preparation for his latest film, the remake of Road House. The actor dedicated nearly a year to intense training and strict dietary regiments to embody the role of an MMA fighter turned bouncer. In the film, Gyllenhaal stars alongside Daniela Melchior, Post Malone, and Conor McGregor, who portrays one of the antagonists.

Expressing admiration for McGregor's charisma, Gyllenhaal recounted nerve-racking moments on set, particularly during fight scenes with the real-life UFC champion. 

"I think he’s just so charismatic," Gyllenhaal said of McGregor.

"He would scare the f**k out of me -- even acting," Stern said.

Despite the controlled nature of the choreography, Gyllenhaal shared a humorous anecdote of McGregor accidentally landing a punch during rehearsal.

"It was, like, three in the morning and … he just clocked me, right in the face,” Gyllenhaal recalled. “I wish it was on film, but it wasn’t."

"Jake, there’s no such thing as a mistake," Stern said with a laugh.

Road House is currently streaming on Prime Video.