Jake Gyllenhaal Opens Up About Heath Ledger

In a new interview, the Prince of Persia star describes why his friendship with the late actor made him feel "safe"

Now that Jake Gyllenhaal is no longer dating Reese Witherspoon, he seems to be reshifting his priorities. The Prince of Persia star, who once said  finding the right woman was the most important thing in life is now reflecting on what his guy friends have taught him. In the May issue of GQ magazine, Gyllenhaal talks about missing Heath Ledger, competing with Lance Armstrong and finding a "brother" in Peter Sarsgaard.

Ever since Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose in 2008, Gyllenhaal has said little about his Brokeback Mountain costar. He now attributes his reticence to the trauma of shooting the Oscar-winning film. "When we did Brokeback and stuff, it was like my work was the only thing that mattered to me," he says. "I could only understand or define myself through doing that....And I think I was afraid of life....In retrospect, filming Brokeback was just a painful process. I don't think any of us can watch it to this day. I remember talking to Michelle (Williams) very recently and her being like, 'I don't know if it was any good or not.'"

And what of the bond between Ledger and Gyllenhaal? "We used to do a lot of things together, because people were very interested in him and I think we felt safe together. He was very sensitive.... For such a serious actor as Heath was, he was crazy funny. Dark funny, but funny."

One costar with whom Gyllenhaal remains close is Jarhead's Peter Sarsgaard, who happens to be married to Jake's sister, Oscar-nominated Crazy Heart star Maggie Gyllenhaal. Sarsgaard tells GQ that he and Jake fought on set, but it only made their bond stronger: "The nice thing is, for Jake, he doesn't see having any argument as something that ruins a relationship. He sees it as something that could potentially help one. That's something I learned from him... He's basically my brother."

Gyllenhaal also leans on friends to help him prepare for his roles -- specifically his friend Lance Armstrong, who helped him get buff for the upcoming action-adventure Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. In fact, Gyllenhaal got so cocky during training, he downed a pot of coffee and challenged the cycling champion to a race: "I was half a wheel ahead of him, like I was kind of egging him on. I was just totally jacked on caffeine."

Fans will get to see the results of Jake's intense workouts when Persia, about a Middle Eastern prince who teams up with an enemy princess to stop an apocalyptic sandstorm, hits theaters on May 28. Check out the trailer here.

Plus: Congrats, Sis! Jake Gyllenhaal Makes Pancakes for Oscar Nominee Maggie

What do you think of Jake Gyllenhaal as an action hero? Chime in below!

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