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They wanted their young couple in 'Love and Other Drugs' to be authentic, so they steamed up the camera. 'We wanted to push it,' Gyllenhaal says.

"I already asked. Your offer was still good," Gyllenhaal says with a shrug.

It's difficult to watch "Love & Other Drugs," a film about a young couple struggling to build a relationship in the mid-1990s, without being struck by the number of times Hathaway and Gyllenhaal are called upon to bare it all for the cameras. It's just not that often that you see two Oscar-nominated actors strip for sex scenes in a mainstream studio movie.

But the nudity, they insist, was never intended to be cheap or exploitative, an easy way to lure jaded moviegoers into theaters — though the movie's poster captures the actors in playful buff repose. Instead, it was a purposeful effort on the part of the actors and co-writer-director Ed Zwick to go beyond romantic comedy conventions and authentically depict every aspect of young love.

"We wanted to push it," Gyllenhaal says. "One of those avenues was when the sheets come off, you don't cover your breast, you don't cover a part of your body after you've slept with someone you're falling in love with five or six times."

Adapted from Jamie Reidy's memoir "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman," "Love & Other Drugs" centers on Gyllenhaal's Jamie Randall, a charming, rakish bachelor with little career direction who falls into the go-go days of pharmaceutical sales just as Viagra is turning into a national phenomenon. Unexpectedly, he falls for Hathaway's Maggie Murdock, a free-spirited artist whose recent Parkinson's diagnosis puts finding a boyfriend last on her to-do list. As Jamie's career in the unregulated world of the drug game takes off, Maggie is chaperoning trips for senior citizens to Canada to buy pharmaceuticals on the cheap. (Although Viagra manufacturer Pfizer is prominently featured in the story, the company was not involved in the making of the film.)

The fact that the film touched on such au courant healthcare debate fodder is exactly why Gyllenhaal — an outspoken progressive who campaigned for Barack Obama — was so eager to sign on. "It's in the same family of all the movies I love," he says over a late-afternoon snack at the Four Seasons Hotel. "'Jerry Maguire,' 'Terms of Endearment,' the movies that have a sense of life and a sense of humor."

"Love & Other Drugs" also offered Gyllenhaal, 29, the antidote he craved after shooting the high-octane Jerry Bruckheimer-produced videogame adaptation "Prince of Persia." "I was desperate for character interaction, for scenes that were intimate, where I could spend a lot of time talking," Gyllenhaal says. "I loved the action and jumping around, but I get a different kind of action in this one."

Gyllenhaal had followed the long-gestating project for years, but it wasn't until he read the most current draft of the screenplay from Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz that he knew he had to do it. "By the end of the script I was crying," Gyllenhaal says. "I thought, 'This is it, I will do anything to do this movie.' It just moved me from the start. Then I had to convince Ed."

Zwick tells a different story, saying he wanted Gyllenhaal all along. Calling from London, the Academy Award-winning helmer says, "There were so many aspects of Jake in a room that I hadn't seen on film: charm, charisma and wit. It's a great thing as a director when you can give audiences a side of an actor they haven't yet seen on-screen."

Anne Hathaway vividly recalls the first time she made out with Jake Gyllenhaal: It was on the set of 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," in which the actress played the neglected wife to Gyllenhaal's smitten cowboy, and they were filming a steamy tryst in the back seat of a car.

"Love & Other Drugs": An article in the Nov. 21 Calendar section about Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway's love scenes in "Love & Other Drugs" said the movie was being released Nov. 26. It opens Nov. 24. —

"Jake had touched me everywhere except my boob," says Hathaway, patting her chest as the pair sits together to discuss their new film, the upcoming romantic dramedy "Love & Other Drugs," which opens in theaters Friday. "We did it very methodically: I would cover, they'd bring me a towel, I'd get out of the car, go behind a screen and get redressed. All of a sudden I hear a throat clear from behind the screen. It's Jake. 'Ah, Annie, so the thing is, in this scene, if it was really you and me in the car, I just think that, you know, ah, can I touch your boob?'"

"And … I don't think you asked me this time," says Hathaway, turning to her screen partner to tease him about his behavior during the many loves scenes they shot for their new project and laughing uproariously.