If you’ve been following along closely in the media — and we’d be kind of shocked if you failed to notice especially given that eyebrow raising Entertainment Weekly cover — you know or have heard countless times that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway spend a lot of time naked in Ed Zwick‘s dram-com “Love And Other Drugs.” Loosely based on Jamie Reidy‘s memoir “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” Zwick’s “Love And Other Drugs,” tells the story of a fledgling relationship as it plays out against the pharmaceutical boom of the 1990s. Hathaway plays Maggie whose uninhibited sexual appetite and free-spiritedness come head to head with Jamie, a cocky, self-assured Pfizer sales rep. His world is thrown for a curve twice over — he finds out the beautiful Maggie is stricken with first stage Parkinson’s and moreover, he’s falling madly in love with her. What follows is an intriguing story about two young, lively singles who have love as the last thing on their minds but find that their fucking-for-sport relationship takes on a dimension far beyond the physical.
We sat down one on one with Ed Zwick late last week and he told us about his dislike for the Oscars as sport, what attracted him to non-epic material, and finally, tapping his TV-centric sensibilities for the big screen. But we also attended several press conferences and Q&As with Zwick, Gyllenhaal and Hathaway and here’s seven things we learned about the making of “Love And Other Drugs.”
Cast & Directors Talk Love, Sex, Intimacy, Bonds & More
1. Anne Hathaway was initially disinterested in the role and had to be convinced.
“It took her a little while to decide whether she wanted to play the part, because she said the [her] character, the love interest the movie portrayed was too simple for her at first,” Gyllenhaal said, a sentiment that Zwick also echoed. “It wasn’t fully reading, living and breathing for her and she’s had enough experience to say ‘Well I’m going to give you some ideas and if you’re up for that then I’ll play the part. As a result, I think her character, — who you meet yet you don’t know her parents, you don’t know where she comes from, you know very little about her — you know everything about her when she first comes in.”
2. Jake Gyllenhaal cried when he first read the script.
“I will say this with, like, absolute honesty,” he said. “I think that the moment that I read the first 10 pages of the script, I was just like, “That was it.” And when I got to the end I was
like “Okay.” I was crying, you know, from the moment I read it.”
3. Gyllenhaal and Hathaway’s “Brokeback Mountain” sex scenes meant they already had a sense of mutual trust when it came to filming the many intimate scenes here
“[The nude scenes made us] vulnerable, but we all really supported each other and I felt so supported by these two men,” Hathaway said. “So if there was vulnerability, it was tempered by love and support, and every time you act, it’s vulnerable if you’re telling a love story, if you’re taking your clothes off, if you’re making a comedy, it’s all kind of putting yourself out there for people to hopefully enjoy. But 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 really bonded over that experience.”
4. Being naked was just natural for these characters and wasn’t meant to be a “thing.”
Well one of the things that we talked about was the fact that when you’re in the early throws of passion and lust and love, you spend a lot of time unclothed,” Hathaway said. “And the beginning of our characters relationship is in that moment and then, obviously we go to a deeper place of love and companionship and intimacy. It’s so funny, [Jake] 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 the fact that we stay in it for so long, and I don’t know, I haven’t gotten a complaint so far.”
5. Ed Zwick getting naked in a moment of solidarity did not help Jake Gyllenhaal out.
“No, it didn’t help me at all,” Gyllenhaal laughed. “I wish we were shooting some kind of horror film and it could have been used as a close-up. It terrified me, I was terrified! I wasn’t for a moment comfortable and he was so eager to do it! I’m sorry to ruin your impeccable reputation, Ed.”
6. Anne Hathaway pushed for her character to be carnal.
“[When Anne wanted to change things in the script] it had to do in a larger degree with her sexuality, to understand that, that this character who was doomed, and whose youth and beauty would be fading more quickly even then it will fade in all of us was compensating. For her to own her sexuality which was a wonderful thing to do was also a means of not coming into it, one way of keeping people at bay. There’s there’s a wonderful French expression that says, kisses are also invented for shutting them out. And, and you know that was a wonderful contribution on her part to recognize that.”
7. Both actors did their respective homework. Deep Throat sources came to Gyllenhaal.
“I got a lot help getting started, particularly on Parkinson’s disease,” Hathaway said. “That turned me on to 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. One of those was actually in the film — Lucy, the woman at the Parkinson’s convention, the dark-haired woman who’s incredibly funny. She was one of the key people who I talked to and she had a big impact.”
By contrast, Gyllenhaal says “I would go online and look things up and only find weird YouTube videos of girls in bikinis in Ferraris saying, “become a pharmaceutical sales rep” with like weird Europop behind it. And then I started asking my own doctors and my grandfather happens to be a doctor and he was like, ‘Whaddaya mean, detail men?’ cause that’s what they were called. And so I started meeting people and not all people from Pfizer, it was really hard to get inside Pfizer. And then Ed – before we started shooting, weirdly — found this diamond in the rough which was on the Pfizer website they have the descriptions of every single one of their drugs and side effects and reactions, anything you need, the chemical make-up. And I would highlight things and memorize them and Ed would have me spew them randomly in between takes to people who were cast as doctors. And then I would find that people would come to me and randomly, as if it were some big secret and be like, ‘Hey my brother is a pharmaceutical rep for Pfzier and he wanted to give you this’ and he would hand me a pamphlet that only the reps get and it slowly started to open up. But I talked with a dozen pharmaceutical reps and they all came from my own doctors.”
And certainly, the research paid off. Both actors are at the top of their game in “Love And Other Drugs” and you can check it out when it opens tomorrow, Wednesday, November 24. Read our early review from CMJ.