ZWICK, ED - LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
NEW FRONTIERS FOR THE STARS
In Love and Other Drugs, filmkaker Ed Zwick brings together two actors reaching the peak of their careers in Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, who both demonstrates attributes not seen before on screen, Zwick tells Andrew L. Urban.
Anne Hathaway is at the point of her career where she is blooming as an actress, reaching her prime; “in Rachel Getting Married and elsewhere, I saw her commit with great depth of character and was impressed by her craft. It dawned on me that maybe there is nothing she can’t do,” says Ed Zwick, who has just directed her in Love and Other Drugs, in which Hathaway and her co-star Jake Gyllenhaal play lovers.
Indeed, the sensitively shot love scenes make an impact for being truthful, candid, tender, and erotic – something far harder to achieve than plain old grunting sex.
Zwick says they approached these scenes by talking a lot among themselves, “about our own lives, and about what it’s like to fall in love and how you behave …”
Love and Other Drugs is based on the novel Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy, but, says Zwick, “the book was just the point of departure for us.” The film takes the story of a pharmaceutical salesman and expands it into a love story in which the two central characters – for different reasons - are not looking for commitment. Jamie is a serial womaniser and Maggie is in the early stages of a degenerative disease.
"cupid refuses to go away"
But as happens in life, cupid refuses to go away . . . “We wanted to make the bedroom scenes authentic,” says Zwick. “We wanted to be truthful about an illness, an industry and a relationship.”
Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a medical school dropout, is now a gregarious, enthusiastic salesman – and womaniser. His brother Josh (Josh Gad) is a tech-nerd; neither of them impress their parents. When Jamie switches jobs to sell pharmaceuticals for sales manager Bruce Jackson (Oliver Platt) at Pfizer, his efforts to influence doctors, especially Dr Knight (Hank Azaria) lead him into meeting one of Dr Knight’s patients, Maggie (Anne Hathaway). Jamie’s advances don’t get him very far – at first; but he’s relentless and a tentative relationship begins, while Jamie rises in his career. But her illness holds Maggie back from full commitment even as Jamie realizes his feelings for Maggie are far deeper than he has experienced before.
Speaking from London, the Los Angeles based filmmaker who has directed Glory, Legends of the Fall, Courage Under Fire, The Siege, The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond, Zwick is eager to praise
Gyllenhaal as well as Hathaway. “I had got to know Jake as a witty and charming male whose many attributes had not yet been revealed to the world.”
Here was an opportunity for both actors to be given a chance to show how far they have matured, with roles that challenged them – and which they embraced wholeheartedly. Zwick says he took a leap of faith in casting Gylenhaal and Hathaway as the lovers; “I had this feeling that they’d be intensely real.”
“They’re artistically serious,” adds Zwick, who spent two weeks in rehearsals with the cast, “which is where we made the changes to the shooting script, as the actors came up with ideas and we found new things to add. But once that was over, we shot it largely as was.”
Jamie (Gyllenhaal), a medical school dropout, is now a gregarious, enthusiastic salesman – and womaniser. His brother Josh (Josh Gad) is a tech-nerd; neither of them impress their parents. When Jamie switches jobs he meets one of his client’s patients, Maggie (Anne Hathaway). Jamie immediately tries to hit on her, but his advances don’t get him very far – at first; but he’s relentless and a tentative relationship begins.
Oliver Platt plays Bruce, Jamie’s manager at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer; Hank Azaria plays the doctor Jamie tries to get on his books, and Gabriel Macht plays Trey Hannigan, Jamie’s most hated competitor, a smooth talking salesman who has cornered the market. Until Pfizer launches Viagra and Jamie is in the driver’s seat.
This was the late 90s, Zwick reminds us, when American authorities had relaxed the advertising rules and drugs were sold through ads in magazines and on television. It was a major cultural
“I was intrigued,” says Zwick, “by the ironic notion of juxtaposing a story about a new pill that gives men a fast erection to solve a sexual problem, and a love story in which the girl simply can’t solve her health problem.”
Published first in the Sun-Herald
Published December 16, 2010
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LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
In cinemas December 16, 2010