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Love & Other Drugs - Jake Gyllenhaal interview

Jake Gyllenhaal in Love & Other Drugs

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JAKE Gyllenhaal talks about the immediate appeal of appearing in Love & Other Drugs both in terms of the character he was playing and getting the chance to work with Edward Zwick.

He also talks about the nudity in the film and why it plays an essential component in establishing the intimacy between his and Anne Hathaway’s character.

Q. What was the main attraction of Love & Other Drugs for you?
Jake Gyllenhaal: I just think there comes a time in different people’s lives where they say: “Do I have real love? Do I want real love? What is real love?” When I read the script I happened to be in a period of time where that seemed to be sort of a pertinent question and for obvious reasons I’ve always loved movies like Jerry Maguire and Jim Brooks’ movies. I feel like they’re closest to some kind of life that I’ve lived. When I read this, I just jumped.

I very rarely have a moment where I get excited and I go: “Somebody wrote this for me and they don’t know it.” I felt that way when I read this for the first time and I was loving the character at first and then crying at the end. When he says: “Sometimes your life doesn’t go the way you expect it to, and usually it doesn’t and if you follow life and not what you think it should be, then it’ll all work out in the end.” Somehow that just moved me to the core and I couldn’t not do it.

And then also, just essentially knowing Ed [Zwick] was at the helm was essentially the biggest thing because I have wanted to work with him over and over again… we’ve brushed paths every once in a while and I’ve tried to get into his movies and auditioned for him many times, so it was just a lot of different things lining up. I’ve also always wanted to get naked with Anne again in a movie and I felt like this was an opportunity to help her [laughs].

Q. One of the key scenes in the movie is where Maggie asks Jamie to list four things he likes about himself. Could you do that about yourself in real life if I asked you to?
Jake Gyllenhaal: I think it’s a testament to how much Anne and I legitimately care about each other that we could probably name four good things about each other and we have, because we’ve been asked that question a few times. And I actually enjoy it, because I enjoy thinking about how much I admire her and talking about it, because it’s nice and because it’s rare. We could do that but it’s hard to say four good things. But I think both of us recognise the flaws and things that probably frustrate us about each other and the things we love about each other and can be honest about each other with those things. And Ed is honest with us as well too. He was in there with us with everything we do, even the love scenes… uncomfortably! And so, it’s sort of the three of us and he brought that out in us with each other too.

Q. Where does [the film] Jamie Randall really end and the real [life] Jamie begin? I know he was on sets, so did you ever feel like you were playing the real person?
Jake Gyllenhaal: There are so many things that are woven in from Jamie. I spent hours with Jamie recording him, picking up his rhythms, picking up his stories and stealing from repetition in his conversation. There’s a lot of Jamie really in there and that was where I found the character. I would say there was a character that was written and that was pretty clear as to his personality but then when I started talking to Jamie I would bring things to Ed and we would bring them to the two-week rehearsal that we had before we started shooting and I’d give him these things.

He always goes: “Really…. really?” He always told these stories and he would always grab somebody… I’d be at restaurants with him and we’d be talking and he would always grab a waitress and ask them where they were from or something. If I went to the restroom and came back, he would know their whole life story or know someone they were related to. It’s crazy! How he does it I don’t know but a lot of the character is from him. But there are fictional elements too. Anne’s character, for instance, is not in the book.

Q. But he proved invaluable to have around for you?
Jake Gyllenhaal: I couldn’t get into the pharmaceutical world. I had a very tough time getting into that world and getting information from active pharmaceutical reps. I talked to my doctors and they gave me pharmaceutical reps to talk to but it was hard to get the truth out of them about what happens and what did happen if they were active during 1996 and so on. So, Jamie was really an essential part of it. A lot of people would sneak information to me on set, saying: “My brother is a drug rep and he just wanted me to give you this… but don’t tell anybody that you got it from me!”

Q. How did you feel about doing so much nudity and would you have done it if you weren’t in such incredible shape?
Jake Gyllenhaal: I do honestly believe that Anne would have changed her body to however it needed to be changed for the character. If it said that Parkinson’s meds meant that you gained weight, or something happened to you that somehow you became iron man or something, she would have done that. But that’s the kind of actress she is. Me, on the other hand, it’s purely vanity… No, it [the nudity] is an essential part of this story and I think it was one of those things where when you’re working with someone like Ed you know that it’s going to be done well, no matter what. We didn’t think about getting in shape. I wanted my character to be a little skinny and sinewy and slimy, you know.

But I didn’t really… we just knew that he [Ed] was going to handle it and then we put it in his hands. Also, when we decided that this was going to be a love story… at first the script was about a guy who changes as a result of meeting a girl. When Anne came onto the project it changed and it became about two people falling in love. And I think we all decided that if we were going to tell a love story, one of the essential elements of a love story is sex – and it should be.

So, if we were going to be as open and intimate in the love story as we could be, we’d have to do the same thing in the sex. When you see two people in a movie like that, particularly as an actor, and they’re portraying two people in love it’s like how do you really, truly, even unconsciously believe that these two people are going to be in love if they don’t want to be naked around each other. I don’t know about you guys but I’ve never had sex with boxers on and it’s an odd thing to watch actors do. That’s not saying I haven’t tried… I just don’t recommend it! But this was something that was really important to us because if we need that if we did we’d get somewhere in the audiences’ unconscious the idea that we were actually, or these two characters, were actually in love and they weren’t just actors telling a love story.

Read our interview with Anne Hathaway

Read our interview with Edward Zwick