In an appearance to promote his upcoming film Demolition on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Jake Gyllenhaal reminded us all that even A-list actors can flub it sometimes. During an interview with host Jimmy Fallon, the Golden Globe-nominated actor dished about the time he tried out for a role in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, prompting the director to call him the "worst actor [he] had ever seen."
Gyllenhaal (or, as Fallon called him, "the Hobbit from Brooklyn!"), auditioned for the role of Frodo after getting swarmed with calls for the part of the protagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
"I got a call from all these agents, from like 14 different agents; they were all so excited," Gyllenhaal recalled. "They were like, 'Guess what? They're making Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson's making it; it's going to be three movies over three-and-a-half years.' And I was like, 'Oh, wow, cool.' Then they were like, 'And when they said they needed a Hobbit, we thought JAKE!'"
"I was literally like — thank you?" he told Fallon, referring to his apparent hobbit-related typecasting.
Gyllenhaal recounted that the first audition was non-verbal. As Jackson dictated stage directions, he reenacted a now-iconic moment in cinema: Frodo discovering the One Ring to Rule Them All. The actor, who said the directions given to him at the time were unclear, more or less gave the director a really good imitation of a shrug emoticon.
Gyllenhaal, who said he was excited to audition for the role, continued to bomb. During line reads, he spoke in his natural American accent — his agents didn't inform him that he'd have to use a British accent as Frodo — which seemed to infuriate Jackson.
As Gyllenhaal told Fallon:
"[Peter Jackson] literally turned to me and said, 'You are the worst actor that I have ever seen.' He said, 'Did anyone tell you you were supposed to have an accent?' I was like, 'No!' And he said, 'Well, fire your agents.'"
In the end, the role went to Elijah Wood.
Oh, and bonus fact? Gyllenhaal also auditioned for one of the main roles in Dude, Where's My Car?
Watch Jake Gyllenhaal talk about his kamikazed Lord of the Rings audition on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in the video clip below.