Jake Gyllenhaal: ‘White belt’ actor Conor McGregor showed humility working on ‘Road House’

Jake Gyllenhaal appreciated the mindset Conor McGregor brought onto the set of “Road House.”

McGregor, a former two-division UFC champion, is set to appear in his most extensive on-screen acting role to date when the remake of the 1989 cult classic debuts March 21 on Prime Video.

“The Notorious” has done some acting work in the past, but it hasn’t gone much further than commercials or bits of promotional material. He is one of the featured characters in “Road House,” serving as a primary antagonist named Knox, who is in conflict with Gyllenhaal’s lead character, Elwood Dalton, for the majority of the movie.

There were scenes in which Gyllenhaal portrayed a UFC fighter, which he admits was a challenging adjustment. McGregor had to come the other way by stepping into the unfamiliar territory of acting, and Gyllenhaal said the Irishman took the right approach.

“I came to the fight game as bringing movies there, and I thought it was a fantastic response. It was super fun,” Gyllenhaal told MMA Junkie. “I think we all had great respect for the fight game. Same thing with Conor when he came to the movie set. He came in and said, ‘I’m a white belt. I’m here to learn. I don’t know anything about making movies or acting, and I want to learn.’ That type of humility in that space, I tried to bring the same way in the opposite end. I don’t know that much about the fight game. I have great respect for it, and I wanted to learn.”

Many of the interactions between Gyllenhaal and McGregor in “Road House” are of a physical nature. Gyllenhaal is no stranger to filming fight scenes, but he’s used to working with trained stunt men. There’s a big difference between actually hitting someone and mimicking it for the benefit of the camera, and that, according to Gyllenhaal, is where McGregor’s biggest learning curve came in.

“Mostly I’ve worked with a lot of ex-fighters, but they’ve learned how to be stunt people so in that sense, they know how to fake fight,” Gyllenhaal said. “I think Conor had a learning curve in learning how to fake fight was not (natural). Also I worked with (Michael) Chandler, too, which is kind of interesting. Both of them in the sequences we did  – I remembered taking a hit in a movie. You’re not taking it; you’re selling it. Being head-to-head with Conor, the first shot we shot was that head butt, and that was his first time just staring me in the eyes and I was like, ‘Oh sh*t.'”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie