Jake Gyllenhaal has always had a song in his heart, we’re only just now getting a chance to hear it.
Thursday marked the opening night of Gyllenhaal’s Broadway musical debut in a new revival of Stephen Sondheim’s hit 1984 show Sunday in the Park with George.
After the show, Gyllenhaal spoke with PEOPLE at the Moët & Chandon party about what it was like to show this new side of himself and that video of him singing that went viral earlier this month.
“It’s so nice to get to express myself through music, I always have in my family and I did growing up as a child throughout school,” Gyllenhaal said. “I had so much wonderful luck as an actor in films that how can you not move in that direction when the opportunities are there? But truly my love, my heart has always been in singing, particularly in the musical space.”
Adding, “And so it’s really nice to do it finally and now people go like, ‘Oh, I guess he can do it, okay.'”
Gyllenhaal says the idea for the one-shot video — which follows him down a few flights of theater stairs until he ends up on stage, singing the song “Finishing the Hat” as he goes — came about very organically and very quickly.
He explains, “I called Cary [Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation director and cinematographer] and I was like, ‘Yo, wanna do a video maybe for this thing?’ And he was like, ‘I’m in, yeah.’ It was totally organic. Literally a day and a half later we were in the theater and he said, ‘Oh it’d be really cool if you walked down the stairs.'”
But Gyllenhaal walking down the stairs was the easy part — it was Fukunaga’s role that would be slightly more difficult to maneuver. The actor says Fukunaga asked to be suspended from the ceiling of the theater with a harness while Gyllenhaal moved through the video to create the continuous and seamless shot.
And just like the that, a viral sensation was born.
Gyllenhaal and Ashford at curtain call on opening night
The 10-week, limited-run production of Sunday in the Park with George costars Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford. The starring duo were praised with a standing ovation at curtain call led by avid Broadway fan Rosie O’Donnell with stars like Gayle King, Uzo Aduba, original cast member Bernadette Peters and Cobie Smulders joining in.
Maggie Gyllenhaal was also there to support her brother during his musical debut with their parents Stephen and Naomi and her husband Peter Saarsgard. The actress held court during intermission in the VIP Ambassador’s Lounge of the newly reopened Hudson Theatre, sipping their Moët & Chandon flutes while remarking on Gyllenhaal’s performance in the first act.
The show is currently scheduled to close on April 23. Sarna Lapine, the niece of the show’s book writer James Lapine, directs.