Promotional tours are usually all glitter, spotlights and flashing white smiles, a time to proudly show off your latest work and strike a red carpet pose in fabulous fashions. Heartbreakingly, however, last week's visit to the Venice Film Festival proved to be nothing but a struggle for Jake Gyllenhaal.
Returning to Venice for the first time in a decade to promote his new film Everest, released in the US tomorrow, the sinking city was a poignant reminder of his dear friend's death. The 35-year-old actor was last there in 2005 to promote Brokeback Mountain, alongside his departed co-star, Heath Ledger.
“I miss him very badly, not having Heath around is very sad because I miss his expression and miss the conversations that we had over the years.
I have a kind of melancholy and deeply sad feeling about returning here.”
Heath Ledger passed in 2008, overdosing on prescription pills shortly after completing his emotionally crippling role of the Joker in The Dark Knight. His death devastated the lives of those who loved him, including his Brokeback Mountain co-star, Gyllenhaal, who is godfather to Heath's then three-year-old daughter, Matilda.
Trying to gain a silver lining, the Nightcrawler star says the passing of his dear friend has cemented the importance of embracing every second on this planet.
“Knowing that life is fragile makes you want to appreciate meaningful things and stop wasting time on things that are trivial and superficial. It made me want to be more present in everyday life and be as much in the moment as I can be.
“It’s made me see life as being much more precious than I was ever consciously aware of before and that has made a big difference with me.
“I try to make my relationships with people as serious and real as I possibly can because those are the moments that truly inform your life and your being.”
Nodding to his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal who is married to Peter Sarsgaard (The Killing, Blue Jasmine) with two daughters under ten, Romana and Gloria, Jake says that seeing her happily forming her own family has reinforced his determination to start one of his own.
“I look at my sister and see how happy she is now and enjoying her family and I would like to have the same thing one day in my life.
Nothing gets me more excited than thinking about being a husband and a father one day. There is no purpose I can see more important than that. I’m so close with my two nieces. I’d do anything for them. I’d give my life for them.”
However, Jake eventually acknowledged that his return to Venice wasn't all ghosts and grief:
“Being there reminds me of Brokeback and a movie that meant so much to many people. I’m still very proud of it.”
So sad, we just want to give him a big hug!