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'Holy S–t, I’m About To Be Headbutted’: That Time Jake Gyllenhaal Really Got ‘Clocked’ By Conor McGregor Shooting Road House

 Conor McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal in Road House.
Conor McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal in Road House.

Those who have seen the new Road House movie know that it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed. The Road House fight sequences are insane, and it features real UFC fighter Conor McGregor as the primary antagonist to Jake Gyllenhaal. The Prisoners actor got in crazy physical shape for Road House, but this didn’t make fighting a real UFC champion any less scary, even if it was for the camera. Gyllenhaal recently opened up about what it was like working with McGregor, and how he once really got clocked by the famous fighter.

In a recent interview with Howard Stern on Sirius XM radio, Gyllenhaal chatted with the host about working on the remake of Road House, and what went into making such a physical film. The actor is no stranger to transformative movie roles considering he lost 30 pounds for his role in Nightcrawler, and bulked up big time for Southpaw. But never before did he have to face a real MMA fighter like Conor McGregor on the big screen. Gyllenhaal said that even he was a bit nervous about the prospect, talking about one specific scene when McGregor had to headbutt him. He told the talk show host:

That [head butt] shot was the first shot we ever shot together in the movie and he just comes up to me, and speaking of that moment, I was like, ‘Holy shit. I’m about to get headbutted by Conor McGregor. What’s gonna happen?’

For movies like Road House, the fights are choreographed stunts where no one is supposed to actually get hit. However, accidents happen and Gyllenhaal revealed that on one tired morning, McGregor accidentally swung and hit the Zodiac actor right in the face. The fighter totally felt bad about the whole thing, but Gyllenhaal was more bummed that the hit didn’t end up in the film. He explained:

By mistake, he hit the monitor. You know we’d go and work the scene and then we’d go back and look at the monitor. He’d give me instructions about fighting and then Doug would tell me things he wanted different. And it was like 3 in the morning. And Conor was like, ‘It’s good, so with that left hand you want to take that hook and with that right you want to give a real big wallop’ and boom. He, like, didn’t judge the distance. We’re all kind of tired. And he just clocked me like right in the face. He was like, ‘[sighs] Oh no!!’ I wish it was on film. But it wasn’t…

I can’t imagine that was an easy hit to take head on. There is a lot of power behind that McGregor swing, and there was probably some kind of damage done. Gyllenhaal seems to have taken it like a champ, and cared more about how it looked on camera than his own wellbeing. Hitting someone by accident during a stunt isn’t unheard of, as Harrison Ford famously punched Ryan Gosling in the face while making Blade Runner 2049, and Frank Grillo also accidentally hit Ryan Reynolds during production on The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard. Accidents may happen, but getting hit by Conor McGregor is a whole different level.

McGregor wasn’t the only real fighter in Road House, and the production actually worked with a number of real fighters to make the action in the film as real as possible. However, according to Gyllenhaal, there are some downsides to this, as real fighters don’t like to miss. He told Howard Stern:

It’s funny, working with real fighters – we worked with a ton of real fighters – to watch them learn to not fight is actually kind of funny. It’s pretty funny. It’s like you’re telling them, ‘You have to miss.’ And they’re like, ‘Please explain to me why the hell?’ You’re like, ‘Cause it’s better for the camera.’ They look at you like you’re crazy. ‘You want me to miss?’

Oftentimes, fake hits look better on camera than real ones, which is probably why the real McGregor hit didn’t end up in the actual movie. The real fighters must’ve gotten the concept of fake hits eventually, as the action in Road House looks phenomenal. Audience’s would never guess that the actors were purposely missing their hits, considering how tough they look on screen. Fans are loving the achievement in the action revenge genre, and may just be one of the best action movies released in a long time.

Fans can check out Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor squaring off in Road House, which is now available to stream with an Amazon Prime subscription. Fans of the Brokeback Mountain actor can also see him in Presumed Innocent, which is a mini series becoming available for AppleTV+ subscribers on June 14th.