The following story has minor spoilers for Netflix’s The Guilty.
Part of what makes The Guilty, Netflix’s new thriller centered on a home run performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, so much fun is the fact that it’s basically a one-man show. Gyllenhaal plays Joe Bayler, a controversial LAPD officer who’s been taken off the streets and moved to 911 dispatch duty, who finds himself at the center of a very dramatic case. The movie entirely takes place at the call center, and while a few other characters peripherally appear briefly, almost all of the movies 90 minutes are spent looking at Gyllenhaal on the phone.
It’s not entirely a novel idea, as movies like Locke (with Tom Hardy spending the entire time on the phone in his car) and Buried (with Ryan Reynolds spending the entire time in a coffin with only a cell phone and a lighter) have executed similar concepts. Still, Gyllenhaal does a wonderful job anchoring the film with a character who is certainly more than meets the eye. And director Antoine Fuqua (best known for Training Day, so you know he’s got experience with messy police stories) does a great job keeping the movie focused and succinct.
But while Gyllenhaal is the focus on-camera for the film, he’s not the only major star. With Bayler on the phone the whole time, he talks to a number of different people, most of whom are voiced by major Hollywood talent. One early-movie caller in a bit of an awkward situation is (super briefly) voiced by Paul Dano. A woman named Emily, who is at the center of the film’s tension, is voiced by Riley Keough (always great, particularly so in Zola and Mad Max: Fury Road). Even Umbrella Academy star DavidCastañeda has a brief role as another officer Joe gets on the phone.
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Ethan Hawke has a voiceover role in The Guilty, playing Sergeant Bill Miller.
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If you thought Sergeant Bill Miller—who Joe talks to on the phone early in the movie, when he hears about the department’s rotating call schedule—sounded familiar, that’s because he’s voiced by Ethan Hawke, the actor/filmmaker who’s been a favorite of audiences and film buffs for decades. His character also has another memorable moment when he talks Joe out of a bit of a panic, trying to get him to calm down ahead of his forthcoming trial for an unjust police killing. It’s through Hawke’s character that we learn of the plan for Joe to leave 911 duty and eventually return to the streets.
While Hawke is great in his limited role in The Guilty, it’s unlikely that will be the role anyone knows him for best. That honor might go to Training Day, where he previously worked with Fuqua. Some of his other early career standout roles included Dead Poets Society, Reality Bites, and Before Sunrise. In recent years he’s continued his top-level performances, earning an Oscar nomination for Boyhood and starring in the movie First Reformed, which, quite frankly, should have won him an Oscar.
Next year, he’ll appear alongside Oscar Isaac in Marvel’s Moon Knight series, and Rian Johnson’s Knives Out 2, among other projects. This busy A-lister will remain busy—and we’re guessing most of this stuff will be good, too.
Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.
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