Spider-Man: Far From Home Mysterio Quentin Beck Jake Gyllenhaal
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Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

Gladiators (and Shakespeare!) helped Spider-Man star Jake Gyllenhaal decode Mysterio

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Nov 11, 2019, 2:54 PM EST (Updated)

After the death of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is on the lookout for a new father figure to guide him. Does he find exactly that in Quentin Beck's mysterious Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Spider-Man: Far From Home?

** WARNING! The following article contains major plot spoilers for the latest Spider-Man movie. You have been warned, dear reader. **

When we are first introduced to Mysterio in the film, he claims to be from an alternate version of Earth that was destroyed by the Elementals. Stating that he came to the reality of the MCU (Earth-616) via "The Snap," Beck wants nothing more than to help Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) stop the beings, which allegedly killed Quentin's family, from taking over another world.

All of these outlandish superhero concepts might be enough to spin an actor's head, but Gyllenhaal was able to keep his performance grounded and believable via the character's eventual look — the result of a collaboration between the actor and his makeup artist, Donald Mowat.

Speaking to SYFY WIRE from the set of Denis Villeneuve's Dune in Hungary, Mowat — who was Gyllenhaal's head makeup artist on Far From Home — helped shed some light on Mysterio's real-world influences.

"Before Jake got the London, I had a couple days to kill. I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum and there were some very interesting embroidered capes and things that got me thinking [Mysterio’s costume] is a little bit Roman," he said. "I knew that that look was that sort of [long] hair with a kind of sheen and darker skin. It made me think a little bit [of] Gladiator. That put it into perspective, and I took a picture and I sent it to Jake. He felt right [about it] and it was easier, I think, to get into that world."

Spider-Man Far From Home

Credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

The concept of a Roman gladiator perfectly fits into Quentin's purported persona of a hardened warrior from a parallel dimension trying to avenge the death of his loved ones. Moreover, director Jon Watts wanted this idea to be reflected not only in the costume, but in the length of Mysterio's hair and beard — two small details one may not even pay much heed.

"Jon was absolutely adamant that his beard stay on the longer side, which I think some people didn’t want, and that his hair stay longer," explained Mowat, adding that the beard gave the character a "rugged look."

Eventually, it is revealed that Beck is a charlatan, a bitter Stark Industries employee who has concocted a diabolical plan to manipulate Peter and take over Tony's vast arsenal of weapons. Through the use of breakthrough hologram technology (which we first saw in Captain America: Civil War), Beck can create vast illusions, including the Elementals and his globe-headed costume, at will.

Spider-Man Far From Home Mysterio

Credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

While the change-up to his backstory is rather large (in the comics, he's a former special effects specialist from Hollywood), the intricate production of his onscreen plot is still very true to the character's iconic penchant for all-out drama and theatrics.

"As soon as you see the armor and the romantic nature ... the brass plate and [the cape], everything’s sort of slightly heightened ... It has Shakespearean qualities and it’s very theatrical, isn’t it?" Mowat continued. "I kept telling Jake that. He said, ‘You’re absolutely right.’ You’re doing something Shakespearean and larger than life."

Spider-Man: Far From Home is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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