Jake Gyllenhaal tonight returned to SNL for the first time since 2007, reflecting in his opening monologue about just how long ago that was.
“That was like 400 Marvel movies ago,” the Ambulance star joked. “To give you an idea of what it was like in 2007, in the show I hosted, there was a George W. Bush sketch, there were jokes about the first iPhone, and this is a photo of me from my monologue.”
We then cut to an image of Gyllenhaal crooning in a wig and glittery gown, with Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig serving as his backup singers. “There I am in full drag, singing a song from Dreamgirls, to promote a movie where I played a gay cowboy,” said the host. “That was actually probably the least problematic thing in that episode, but looking back, I feel like I was a totally different person.”
Gyllenhaal then went on to discuss the fact that he’s developed a reputation as being “this serious, intense method actor,” despite the fact that he “wasn’t even that good” at delivering that kind of performance. “I remember for this movie Nightcrawler, I went to the director and I was like, ‘Get ready for me to lose 48 pounds and win the Oscar.’ And then a week later I was like, ‘How would you like to see an actor lose 36 pounds and win the Golden Globe?” he joked. “Then, I showed up on set and was like, ‘You’re looking at a guy who gained 10 pounds and doesn’t care about awards.’”
The truth is, Gyllenhaal explained, he was only “doing that method stuff” because he thought that’s what you need to do to be a serious actor—and it led him to forget “how to have fun.”
“That’s when I realized something I should have realized a long time ago—acting is a really stupid job,” he said. “It’s pretend and it’s fun, and it should be filled with joy. Well, I’m finally embracing that joy again, and that’s why I’m back standing on this stage.”
Gyllenhaal said he never thought SNL would “come calling” again, given the fact that he debuted on the show so many years ago. In truth, he wasn’t even sure he would rememberhow to host. “But being here tonight,” he said, “it feels like everything is suddenly coming back.”
Gyllenhaal then gave a very committed performance of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” with Chloe Fineman, Ego Nwodim and Cecily Strong backing him up.
Gyllenhaal is joined for tonight’s show by musical guest Camila Cabello. Deadline will update this story with video when it comes in.