Jake Gyllenhaal
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

With a blood-stained face and an expert take on the jab, cross, and hook, Jake Gyllenhaal's Southpaw character, Billy Hope, may be the toughest man we’ve seen on screen this year. But the actor left the rugged-on-the-outside portrayal behind in order to share some of the most emotional experiences in his own life. In a touching interview with NPR, he opened up about his friendship with the late Heath Ledger after listening to a clip from Brokeback Mountain, the 2005 film they both starred in.

"Listening to it brings me back to thinking about doing that scene with Heath and the honor it was to work with him and the beauty of his work," he said. "I miss him as a human being and I miss working with him. And what an unfortunate thing it is that we won't be able to see the beauty of his expression."

Gyllenhaal is the godfather to Ledger’s 9-year-old daughter with Michelle Williams, Matilda—yet another reason why it’s rather poignant to hear the Hollywood favorite reminisce on their relationship. "He was an incredibly special [person] and that doesn't even come close to encapsulating who he is, who he was,” he said.

The actor, who spoke softly of his late friend, also discussed how the experience of the loss has changed his approach to work. "I'm trying to have relationships that are as real as they possibly can be on a movie set—be close to people because I know that it's precious. And I know not only can this career end in a very short period of time and this or that can happen, but also that life is precious," he said.

"And I think losing Heath and being a part of a family that was something like the movie—that movie we all made together—makes you see that, makes you appreciate that and hopefully moves you away from the things that really don't matter to the things that do," he said.

We’re glad to hear that Ledger will never be forgotten.

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