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Jake Gyllenhaal Is Extremely Mature About Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well”

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Last December, when Taylor Swift released a 10-minute version of her song “All Too Well,” she also brought her decade-old relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal back into the spotlight. The 2012 track has always been understood to be about Gyllenhaal, but the revamped version featured plenty of new lyrics that really made him seem like a jerk. Suddenly, the actor became a roundly criticized trending topic across Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, basically anywhere that Swifties set up shop.

The 41-year-old movie star stayed silent on the matter for a few months—although some speculated his wardrobe choice in a W Magazine photoshoot was an allusion to Swift’s album Red—but in a February 17 Esquire cover story, he finally shared his perspective on the song, as well as the angry internet activity directed his way. Gyllenhaal said that the response to “All Too Well” prompted him to turn off his Instagram comments, but did not blame that on Swift directly. “It has nothing to do with me. It’s about her relationship with her fans,” he said.

He went on to say that “artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that,” but talked somewhat abstractly about how the actions of influential people online can prompt hostile behavior from their supporters. “At some point, I think it’s important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one’s name,” Gyllenhaal said. “That begs for a deeper philosophical question. Not about any individual, per se, but a conversation that allows us to examine how we can—or should, even—take responsibility for what we put into the world, our contributions into the world. How do we provoke a conversation?”

Very tactful. Swift has one of the most passionate fan bases on the internet, but there have been times where their behavior has gotten frightening. Some Swift fans infamously doxxed a Pitchfork editor because they were unhappy with the site’s review of Folklore. When Swift voiced her frustration over Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta owning the master rights to her early music back in 2019, it prompted several fans to doxx the two of them, as well.

Many fans and critics see “All Too Well” as one of Swift’s best songs, and the extended version of it expands on the emotional challenges of the relationship that inspired it. “The idea you had of me, who was she?/A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on you/Not weepin’ in a party bathroom,” Swift sings. There is also a reference to the age gap between herself and the subject (“You said if we had been closer in age, maybe it would’ve been fine/And that made me want to die”), which fits the nearly nine-year difference between herself and Gyllenhaal.

The 10-minute version of “All Too Well” continues to do huge streaming numbers, and the Swift-directed short film, which features two actors with a similar age difference to she and Gyllenhaal, has racked up more than 60 million YouTube views. The only person who can take the heat off of Gyllenhaal? Probably John Mayer, the widely-speculated subject of “Dear John,” another beloved Swift breakup track she seems likely to re-record soon.

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