‘The Guilty’ on Netflix — everything you need to know about the 911 call centre thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal takes the lead role in The Guilty on Netflix.
Jake Gyllenhaal takes the lead role in The Guilty on Netflix. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Guilty on Netflix is just what fans of the ‘Nordic noir’ genre have been waiting for. The Guilty is a new American adaptation of the thrilling Danish drama Den Skyldige, which had international audiences gripped back in 2018. 

Netflix is reported to have paid $30 million for the rights to film this thriller and the new star-studded version has Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role, playing troubled 911 call centre operator Joe Baylor, who answers the phone to a woman in grave danger and has just hours to save her life. “The Guilty is a special story and one that we all feel very close to,” says Jake Gyllenhaal. 

So here's all we can reveal about The Guilty on Netflix...

The Guilty on Netflix release date

The Guilty on Netflix will be available to stream from October 1. It's a one-off drama.

The Guilty on Netflix — is there a trailer? 

Yes there is an official trailer for The Guilty on Netflix. In addition to the teaser trailer previously released, a new trailer gives us our first look at actual footage from the film, which you can watch here…

The Guilty on Netflix plot 

In the same vein as the original Danish drama, The Guilty is set over one morning in a busy 911 call centre. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character Joe Bayler, who usually works in another department, soon finds himself feeling harried and frustrated as the calls come flooding in, the majority of them most definitely not emergencies. But then he answers a call from a terrified woman called Emily who says she’s been abducted but as he probes for more details, the man who’s with her realises she’s on the phone and she must hang up. As the hours fly past and the danger escalates, Joe ends up breaking every rule in the book to try to save her. However it soon becomes clear that nothing is quite what it seems and the twists and turns keep coming. 

Jake Gyllenhaal starring in The Guilty on Netflix.

Jake Gyllenhaal starring as 911 call centre worker Joe Baylor in The Guilty on Netflix. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Guilty on Netflix — all about the original Danish film Den Skyldige

The Guilty has been adapted from the 2018 Danish language thriller Den Skyldige by Gustav Möller. Starring Jakob Cedergren as call operator Asger Holm, it was such a hit that it became Denmark’s Oscar submission for Best International Feature. In fact Jake Gyllenhaal was such a fan that he served as moderator during the Q&A’s. In the original Asger is a disgraced police officer who has been temporarily assigned to the call dispatch centre but is bored by the lack of action. Then he takes a call from a woman who claims she’s been kidnapped by a man who threw her into the back of a white van. Using just a phone, he goes about solving a much bigger crime than he could ever have imagined. The movie won 2018’s Sundance Audience Award and Grand Jury prize. 

The Guilty on Netflix cast — Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Baylor 

Jake plays the lead role of Joe Baylor and also produced the movie alongside Riva Marker. Three years ago, Jake Gyllenhaal was at the Sundance Film Festival when he chanced upon the screening of a Danish thriller called Den Skyldige. Here's what Jake Gyllenhaal has revealed about it's impact on the making of The Guilty...

"As soon as I saw it, I felt like it needed to be transposed into an American context,’ he recalls. "Sometimes, you just have these feelings in your bones. It immediately spoke to me. It had a lot of things that I love about storytelling.

"The interesting thing about Joe is that he’s out of place being an emergency operator – he doesn’t have the same rhythm as someone who does the job on a daily basis. I’ve had the honour of playing a number of first responders on screen, and I have done a lot of research into the job, but the originality of this character is that he doesn’t fit the role.

"Joe really does not enjoy his job. But, in the end, what he realises is, in order to solve this case, he has to face a truth within himself. I love characters that are question marks, and, in a lot of ways, Joe is the ultimate question mark."

The script was written by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto, while director Antoine Fuqua shot the film in less than two weeks during the pandemic. 

"It was challenging knowing we only had a short amount of time to shoot the movie, and we had an impending lockdown in Los Angeles,’ says Jake Gyllenhaal. "We never knew if they were going to call us and say, “We’re shutting you down.” But I thrive in those moments. I enjoy them. And I think the whole crew was so grateful to be able to make a film at that time."

One of Hollywood’s leading men, Jake shot to fame in the 2001 movie Donnie Darko, in which he starred alongside his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal. In 2005 he had a box office smash with Brokeback Mountain in which he played a gay shepherd alongside Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams. Since then Jake has starred in Jarhead, Zodiac, Prisoners and the 2014 movie Nightcrawler. In 2015 he played Billy Hope in the boxing film Southpaw. More recently in 2019 he appeared in Spider-Man: Far From Home

Jake Gyllenhaal takes a creepy call in The Gulity.

Jake Gyllenhaal takes a creepy call in The Gulity. (Image credit: Netflix)

Jake Gyllenhaal.

Jake Gyllenhaal at the 2019 launch of Spider-Man: Far From Home. (Image credit: Getty)

The Guilty on Netflix — who else is starring

The Guilty on Netflix will also star Ethan Hawke (Before Sunset), Peter Sarsgaard (The Batman) and Riley Keough, who is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley. Other cast members include Paul Dano, Bryon Bowers, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Christina Vidal and Bill Burr. As the action all takes place in the call centre, some of the actors never appear on screen and are instead voices at the end of the phone.  

Jake Gyllenhaal and director Antoine Fuqua called in some favours from their movie-star friends — including Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard and Paul Dano — who voice the various characters that Joe hears through his headset.

"Because of COVID, the actors were all around the world, so we had to get them to record their performance over Zoom, on a special recording device," says Fuqua. "I could see them sitting in their living rooms holding their babies, all different kinds of stuff."  

Ethan Hawke stars in The Guilty.

Ethan Hawke stars in The Guilty. (Image credit: Getty)

The Guilty on Netflix — director Antoine Fuqua

Antoine Fuqua, best known for the film Training Day and the 2016 adaptation of The Magnificent Seven, takes the helm as director of The Guilty while the screenplay has been written by Nic Pizzolatto who created the True Detective series. Jake Gyllenhaal worked with Antoine on boxing flick Southpaw and said: “Our time on Southpaw was one of the greatest artistic experiences of my career and I cannot wait to get back on set with him.”

Antoine Fuqua is director of The Guilty.

After 'True Detective' and 'Southpaw' Antoine Fuqua is director of 'The Guilty'. (Image credit: Netflix)

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.