HeyUGuys recently caught up with Hollywood A-list filmmaker Edward Zwick to chat to him about his new feature Love and Other Drugs – a romantic comedy drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway which see’s the director abandon his big-budget, socially conscious action epics and return to a smaller, intimate character piece in the style of his earlier work.

HeyUGuys: Did you encounter any struggles in combining the themes of sex, love, illness, and drugs into one movie?

Edward Zwick: It’s been my experience of life that there are always conflicting and competing themes happening at any one moment – that there’s something going on with your family, something happening at work, something going on with your health and part of the juggling act of life is to reconcile all the chaos of that and I was hoping to capture some of that in a film. Some films, particularly in this genre, tend to put these kinds of people into a kind of bubble, where the real world doesn’t affect them at all and they have nothing else to deal with but each other. I find that unrealistic.

Do you know why Parkinson’s in particular was chosen as the disease Anne’s character would suffer from?

In an age where there’s a quick pill for everything, here’s something for which there is no fix. In a love story, the idea that all of our beauty and love is transient, but I felt for a young woman who has to grapple with the fact that it’s going to be much faster gives it a particular poignancy.

Did you do any research yourself about Parkinson’s?

I spoke to lots of neurologists, went to support groups. I’m friends with Michael J. Fox and I read all his books and then spent some good time talking to him about it.

For a mainstream Hollywood feature, the film is very open in terms of sex and sexuality. Did you meet any resistance from the studios over the content?

It was implicit in the DNA of the script and I think they (the studios) may have been expecting something a little more demure but when the dailies came back in I was far enough away in Pittsburgh that I couldn’t hear the gasps (laughs).

Your two leads previously worked together on Brokeback Mountain. Was there already an inherent chemistry between them, or did you have to work at bringing it out?

They worked about six and seven days together on that movie and they obviously liked each other, but what they were doing there didn’t have the same depth and complexity as here. We did begin at a point of familiarity and comfort and that helps.

The film is very similar in scope to About Last Night… Do you encounter any challenges in doing a smaller intimate film again, following all your big, action-orientated pictures?

The challenges are that you don’t have the opportunity to break into a battle scene or a horse charge or a big crowd extravaganza – all you have it’s what in front of you with the two characters and has to be accomplished in the nuances of the relationship and that is the test, but it’s also the joy too.

Were you working your way through your iPod when you decided what songs to use for the movie?

Oh my gosh! The mid-nineties weren’t the greatest period for music but it was actually surprising to revisit songs which evoked emotions in us. For instance, I never though I’d hear The Macarena again, let alone use two different mixes (laughs) but that’s the joy of sourcing music for a relatively contemporary movie, which I hadn’t done in a long time.

You had a big success with The Last Samurai and your feature previous to this one, Defiance, was based in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Do you any plans for another historical epic?

There’s one thing we’re working on, which we’re having trouble getting the finance for. It’s called In the Heart of The Sea. It won the Nation Book Award in the US a few years ago and describes a real-life incident whaling boat which was actually attacked by a whale, which inspired (Herman) Melville to write Moby Dick.

Read our review of Love and Other Drugs which is out in UK cinemas today.