Jake Gyllenhaal Meets with ‘Real-Life Heroes’ for USO Event


Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim team up in the new film The Covenant, a fictional story about an American soldier and his Afghan interpreter. On April 14, the pair went to an Army base to screen the movie — and to learn from real-life solders.

The event, which was hosted by the United Service Organizations (USO) at California’s Fort Irwin, began with a grand entrance from the stars, who arrived via Black Hawk helicopter. Once there, Gyllenhaal and Salim met with service members and toured the U.S. Army’s National Training Center on the installation.

“I am honored and incredibly grateful to have visited the real-life heroic men and women at Fort Irwin and witness firsthand their unparalleled training facility, equipment and dedication as they ensure our freedom,” Gyllenhaal, 42, said in a USO press release.

In The Covenant, directed by Guy Ritchie, Gyllenhaal plays a soldier whose life is saved by his interpreter, played by Salim. Gyllenhaal’s character later learns that Salim’s character isn’t given safe passage to America as promised — compelling Gyllenhaal’s character to return to the war zone to repay his debt, all with the Taliban chasing them down.

Said Salim in the USO release, “It was a huge pleasure and learning experience meeting the service men and women and seeing firsthand the unique and impressive scope of Fort Irwin.”

The visit by Gyllenhaal and Salim also featured a virtual meetup with American service members stationed throughout the globe, including in Okinawa, Japan. The meetup was joined by a surprise third guest — Jimmy Kimmel, who popped onto the screen and exchanged jokes with the actors and the service members.

Gyllenhaal is no stranger to portraying soldiers, having starred in Jarhead, a 2003 movie about the Iraq War, and Brothers, a 2009 film about the War in Afghanistan.