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Jake Gyllenhaal’s struggle with Heath Ledger’s death

“It affected me in ways I can’t put into words.”

When Heath Ledger passed away in 2008, it stunned fans, friends and family alike.

And the loss of the Aussie actor resonated heavily with his Brokeback Mountain co-star, Jake Gyllenhaal.

In an interview with PEOPLE, Jake said Heath’s death impacted both his personal and professional life.

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“Personally, it affected me in ways I can’t necessarily put in words or even would want to talk about publicly,” the 35-year-old said.

“In terms of professionally, I think I was at an age where mortality was not always clear to me.”

Jake was just 27 when Heath passed away from accidental prescription drug intoxication.

“I think you live in this bubble, too, of making films … There are real friends, and there is a real community,” he said of the experience.

“There is also that [new Macklemore song] where he says, ‘The curtain closes and nobody notices’ … I think that’s true, and I think that’s okay. But I think at the time, I assumed everyone would notice – and they did with Heath dying, but I think it [gave me] the experience of, ‘This is fleeting’.

“And none of the attention or synthesized love that comes from the success of a film really matters at all.

“What matters is the relationships you make when you make a film, and the people you learn from when you’re preparing for a film. That changed a lot for me.”

Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal open up about Heath Ledger’s death

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