“Training Day” scribe David Ayer wanted Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, the stars of his upcoming “End of Watch,” to understand the bond policemen share, a bond he described as being “deeper than marriage.”
Ayer has built a career out of making movies about cops and crime, from writing “Training Day” to directing “Harsh Times,” and he returned to the subject for this indie film, which Open Road will distribute.
Ayer tried to make this as realistic as possible, setting it in the present day, sending his stars on ride-alongs with cops and basing the plot off the experiences his cop friends told him about.
“My friend would talk about how if he or his partner were seriously injured on duty, the guy would whack the other guy and take care of his families,” Ayer said. “That’s what happens when guys are true partners.”
Gyllenhaal could not attend the panel because he is shooting a film in Toronto, but he did offer the Comic-Con crowd a video message in which he said they were “all incredibly proud” of the film.
Also read: Complete coverage of Comic-Con 2012
Though Gyllenhaal, the star of action films like “Prince of Persia,” came in fit, Pena did not.
“He was fat,” Ayer said.
Pena (above), who was caring for his kid at the time, begrudgingly admitted as much, comparing his training to Chris Farley running up a steep hill.
Regardless of their levels of fitness, both actors had to go through rigorous training – four months of it – to fully understand the life and rigors of being a cop in the inner city.
Doing so was essential to the film’s attempt at realism, Ayer said, especially since it alternates between comedy, sentiment and violence.
"It puts them through a common hell," Ayer said.
As for what Pena took away from those cops he spent time with, he said, “It’s a weird relationship you have. It felt like family.”
Families with guns.