Jake Gyllenhaal: I Had No Idea Co-Star Jill Clayburgh Was Sick

1:38 PM PST 11/08/2010 by Philiana Ng

"She left an indelible impression on me. You don't really need much time to work or meet somebody and know that they're really alive," the "Love and Other Drugs" star said.

Love and Other Drugs star Jake Gyllenhaal wasn't aware co-star Jill Clayburgh, who passed away Friday after battling leukemia, was ill.

"I think part of her sickness is what made her live her life ... and really cherish the moments she had and cherish the people she was with," the actor told the Huffington Post in New York on Sunday.

Added Gyllenhaal: "And she did when she was with us, cherish those moments, and they made us all love her."

Gyllenhaal and director Edward Zwick learned of Clayburgh's sickness after working together on the film in fall of 2009. Clayburgh played Gyllenhaal's mother in Love and Other Drugs, which also stars Anne Hathaway.

"She left an indelible impression on me. You don't really need much time to work or meet somebody and know that they're really alive ... and when I heard that [she was sick] ... there's that moment when you go, 'Oh, maybe that might be why she was so extraordinary.' And it makes me want to encourage people to wake up and live it like Jill did," Gyllenhaal said.

Zwick also sounded off on working with Clayburgh.

"Her legacy is an extraordinary kind of acting which is of the highest level of authenticity but also of comedy. She managed to do both those things at once," he said.

Clayburgh, nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 1978's An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over the following year, died at her home in Connecticut at 66. She was diagnosed with leukemia at 45.

Gyllenhaal credited Clayburgh's Unmarried Woman as a movie that helped his mother get through her divorce in 2008.

"It helped her through that time in a way that no other movie or anybody else had," he said.

Love and Other Drugs, which opened the AFI Film Fest on Thursday, will be released in theaters Nov. 24.

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