While doing the promotional tour for the release of his new film, the boxing drama Southpaw, Jake Gyllenhaal spoke to NPR’s Fresh Air show about his experiences working with the late Heath Ledger.
Gyllenhaal worked with the late Australian actor in 2005 on Oscar Winning film Brokeback Mountain, where the two starred as lovers who were separated for years at a time before rekindling their love across many years. Directed by Ang Lee, who won the Best Director Oscar for the film, Brokeback also starred Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and Michelle Williams (Take This Waltz).
Listening to a clip from the film during the NPR chat, Gyllenhaal spoke about his experiences with Ledger, and how his death changed his career.
“It brings me back to thinking about doing that scene with Heath, and the honor it was to work with him, and the beauty of his work. And I miss him as a human being, and I miss working with him. And what an unfortunate thing it is that we won’t be able to see the beauty of his expression. He was incredibly special, and that doesn’t even come close to encapsulating who he is — who he was….
I think that’s why I like to go off and I like to try and get into worlds that will wake me up… I’m trying to be present where I am. I’m trying to have relationships that are as real as they possibly can be on a movie set [and] be close to people because I know that it’s precious. And I know that not only can this career end in a very short period of time and this or that can happen, but also that life is precious,” he noted. “And I think losing Heath — and being a part of a family that was something like that movie we all made together — makes you see that, makes you appreciate that and hopefully moves you away from the things that really don’t matter to the things that do.”
Heath Ledger died in 2008, and won a posthumous Oscar in 2009 for Best Supporting Actor for his role as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
You can listen to the full interview on NPR’s Fresh Air here.
Southpaw is out now in UK and US cinemas.