Jake Gyllenhaal & Guy Ritchie Talk ‘The Covenant’ And The “Begrudging” Friendship At Its Heart [The Playlist Podcast]

Apr 21, 2023

Decades after he first broke out with “Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels,” film fans probably think they know what a Guy Ritchie film is going to look and feel like. Well, when you bring Jake Gyllenhaal into the equation, Ritchie throws all of those preconceived notions out of the window, and you end up with “The Covenant,” a no-nonsense war film about a life-altering debt and the lengths someone will go to shed a curse, of sorts. And in this episode of The Playlist Podcast, Jake Gyllenhaal and Guy Ritchie discuss their new war film and the interesting relationship that forms the heart of the story.
Guy Ritchie’s “The Covenant” stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a highly decorated soldier, Sergeant John Kinley, who finds himself trying to fight for his life alongside his interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim). Through the struggle to survive, the two form an unlikely bond. But when Ahmed is held captive, Kinley has to risk it all to pay back this enormous debt and save his war partner. It’s a Guy Ritchie film that sheds many of the filmmaker’s hallmarks and is a lean, sometimes brutal story about a life-altering bond between two people. 
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In our discussion, Ritchie talks about tackling a war film for the first time and what drew him to “The Covenant,” in particular. 
“I have been wanting to make something to do with war for a long time,” he explained. “But it’s the simplicity of this story and the elegance of the simplicity that really drew me in.”
But more than just being a war film, it was the relationship between Gyllenhaal and Salim’s characters that created something unique that Ritchie wanted to explore. 
“It’s not even really a debt. Debt doesn’t feel like the right word, and doing the right thing doesn’t feel like the right expression,” said Ritchie. “It is a covenant of sorts, in the sense that you do end up owing someone something, and you don’t like them for owing it. It becomes a begrudging weight on your shoulders. And the only way to wriggle out of it is to do something about it.”
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He added, “There’s something deeply human about that. There’s nothing altruistic about it. There’s something more important than altruism in that desire to help that pulls at the deepest part of you.”
For Gyllenhaal, this isn’t the first time he’s played a soldier. One of his earlier roles was nearly two decades ago in “Jarhead.” And when asked about revisiting the war genre much later in his career, the actor opened up about how these two experiences were so different. 
“It is very interesting, now having more experience as an actor, much more experience in my career, and playing a character in the military who has much more experience, who is Special Ops Sargeant,” he explained. “The choices he chooses to make are based in a whole different place. It’s not about tumult and turmoil internally… It’s about being a grown-up differently. It is incredible to put on a uniform 20 years later and have it feel totally different.”
“The Covenant” debuts in theaters on April 21. You can hear the full discussion below:

The Playlist Podcast is part of The Playlist Podcast Network, which includes Bingeworthy, Deep Focus, The Fourth Wall, and The Discourse. We can be heard on iTunes, AnchorFM, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spotify, and most places where podcasts are found. You can stream the podcast via the Spotify embed within the article or click on the lead image at the top page. Follow us on iTunes, and you’ll get this podcast and our other shows regularly. Be sure to subscribe and drop us a comment or a rating, as we greatly appreciate it. Thank you for listening.

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