Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal last worked together on the drama Brokeback Mountain. In their new movie, Ed Zwick’s emotional comedy Love ans Other Drugs Hathaway portrays Maggie, an artists struggling with the beginnings of Parkinson’s disease, and Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, a ladies’ man who works in the cutthroat world of pharmaceutical sales, just as Viagra is being introduced to the public. Their evolving relationship takes them both by surprise, and they find themselves under the influence of the ultimate drug: love.
Can you tell us a little about Jamie?
Jake Gyllenhaal: He’s bright but a bit self-destructive. He’s content to be successful with his life as a salesman of a revolutionary drug – a job for which he’s perfectly suited, and continue to succeed at fake connections. He’s an expert at those because he’s a great performer.
What about Maggie?
Anne Hathaway: When Maggie meets Jake, she is at a transitional moment in her life. She hasn’t accepted her challenges, and more importantly, she hasn’t been able to accept herself.
I loved how seemingly fearless Maggie is. I was moved by the challenges she faces and by the façade she presents to the world, as an idealized sex goddess who is fine with everything and anything. But there’s an aching and a yearning there; she’s scared and vulnerable, and a wonderful person under all of that. As an actress, you dream of opportunities to explore those things.
Can you talk about working together? You had a great vulnerability and chemistry together – did that start when you were working on Brokeback Mountain?
Anne Hathaway: I never felt vulnerable with Jake to be honest. I understood that our characters went to a vulnerable place.
Jake Gyllenhaal: That (love) scene that we had together, we both were pretty vulnerable.
Anne Hathaway: We all really supported each other, so if there was vulnerability it was tempered by love and support. Every time you act it’s vulnerable if you’re telling a love story, if you’re taking your clothes off, it’s all kind of putting yourself out there for people to hopefully enjoy.
With Brokeback Mountain I think it just established that we had chemistry and that Jake was someone I really enjoyed spending time with, and I think we’re very bonded over that experience.
Jake Gyllenhaal: The nature of the experience of Brokeback Mountain, us going through the journey of not only making the movie but then the response from audiences to the movie, I think that brought us all very close. That was a very tight knit group and remains so to this day.
But then I think Ed (Zwick) took it to another level with me and Anne. We worked for eight days on Brokeback Mountain and this was months. And beyond that I think it was our love story in this movie. I don’t know if it was about vulnerability, I think it was more about just us having a very similar sense of rhythm and music and sometimes there’s just chemistry between people. I remember vibe-ing with her from the minute that we started working with Ed, not only as actors but intellectually too. We all had this weird intellectual orgy.
The length of time you spend unclothed I thought posed an interesting challenge because of the fact that often an intimate scene is quick in terms of the length of the movie.
Anne Hathaway: One of the things that we talked about was the fact that when you’re in the early throws of passion, lust and love you spend a lot of time unclothed. And the beginning of our characters’ relationship is that moment and then obviously we go to a deeper place of love and companionship and intimacy. It’s so funny because you said the intimate scenes usually go quick. I think there are many different definitions for intimacy. I would say the sex scenes go quick, but the thing that makes our scenes intimate is that we stay in it for so long.
Jake Gyllenhaal: We talked a lot about what we all individually and collectively thought was sexy, and what turned us on and what didn’t. As a result I think it made it possible for us to be naked with no sense of insecurity because it had been discussed, even all the awkward things that might turn you on that we know but we’re not going to share. That really helped.
What kind of research did you do into Parkinson’s disease?
Anne Hathaway: I got a lot of help from Ed, who turned me onto the American Parkinson’s Association, and they were instrumental in putting me in touch with a few people who had been diagnosed around the age that my character had been diagnosed.
People wanted to share their stories, people were excited because Parkinson’s is a very insidious disease, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Everyone there said, ‘Thank God for Michael J. Fox, because I don’t think anyone would know anything without his advocacy.’ It was an amazing world that was opened up to me with the research.
How true to life do you think unconditional love is in today’s real world?
Jake Gyllenhaal: Ultimately I think what’s beautiful about the film is that there are people who have full lives and don’t live long, and then there are people who live long and don’t have full lives. I think what’s important is to live a full life no matter what, and that’s what these two people decide to do. And I think there’s something unconditional about that. And I think that’s what life should be about.
Anne Hathaway: I swear I’m not coping out, I don’t think I could say it any better. Is this an accurate portrayal of love? I saw the final cut of the film with an audience two nights ago, and I’m so proud of the fact that I believe in their love story. Whether or not it’s the definitive exploration of unconditional love, I don’t know, I don’t know enough about the world and film, however I do know that it is very hard to believe in on-screen love and I’m really proud that I could believe in ours.