A full decade into the speculation that Taylor Swift’s hit 2012 song “All Too Well” was about her ex Jake Gyllenhaal, the 32-year-old pop star essentially fully confirmed as much when she dropped the extended version, “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version),” last November. Without naming Gyllenhaal, Swift confirmed that the original song’s subject had heard it in a 2013 interview, sharing that he called the experience of listening to the overall album, Red, a “bittersweet experience” akin to going through a photo album. Now, a dozen years after its initial release, Gyllenhaal has become the first of the former couple to address the speculation head-on.
“It has nothing to do with me,” the 41-year-old actor told Esquire. “It’s about her relationship with her fans. It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that.” Still, Swifties’ reactions to the lyrics, which don’t exactly paint him in a positive light, did affect him to a certain extent: He turned off his Instagram comments when the album, which he has yet to listen to, came out. Presumably, that means he’s unaware of scathing lyrics such as “You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine / And that made me want to die.”
Swift and Gyllenhaal dated for just three months in the fall of 2010, right around the time that she turned 21. (According to another song on Red, he might have stood her up on the day she marked that milestone.) It’s understandable, then, that the rest of his comments on the subject were more general. “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,” he continued. “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? We see that in politics. There’s anger and divisiveness, and it’s literally life-threatening in the extreme.”
Gyllenhaal then clarified that he has not felt his life has been threatened. “My question is: Is this our future? Is anger and divisiveness our future? Or can we be empowered and empower others while simultaneously putting empathy and civility into the dominant conversation?,” he continued. “That’s the discussion we should be having.”
At this point, though, Gyllenhaal doesn’t begrudge anyone still curious about that long-ago period of his past. “I’m not unaware that there’s interest in my life,” he concluded. “My life is wonderful. I have a relationship [with 25-year-old model Jeanne Cadieu, whom he started dating in 2018] that is truly wonderful, and I have a family I love so much. And this whole period of time has made me realize that.”