Jake Gyllenhaal reveals how Heath Ledger's death has changed him

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Jake Gyllenhaal Opens Up About Heath Ledger's Death

Jake Gyllenhaal says words cannot express how "incredibly special" Heath Ledger was to him, and the impact his "Brokeback Mountain" co-star still has on his life.

"I miss him as a human being and I miss working with him," Gyllenhaal told NPR of Ledger, who died in Jan. 2008 at age 29.

WATCH: Michelle Williams Sells Brooklyn Home She Bought With Heath Ledger

The 10th anniversary of the release of Brokeback Mountain happens later this year, and while Gyllenhaal has worked on numerous films since the Oscar-winning movie, he still seeks the same camaraderie he found on that set.

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Jake Gyllenhaal reveals how Heath Ledger's death has changed him
In this Sunday, July 12, 2015 photo, Antoine Fuqua, left, and Jake Gyllenhaal, right, pose for a portrait in promotion of their new film "Southpaw" at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)
Jake Gyllenhaal accepts the "Guy Con" award at the 2015 Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Studios on Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP)
Jake Gyllenhaal arrives at the screening of the film Carol at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Credit: Weinstein Company via ETOnline
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Jake Gyllenhaal attends the meet & greet for the Manhattan Theatre Club production of 'Constellations' at the MCC Rehearsal Studios on November 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is seen on November 25, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by SBN/Star Max/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal arrives at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences' Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 8, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25 : Jake Gyllenhaal pictured at a screening of Nightcrawler at The Rave Theater in Philadelphia, Pa on October 25, 2014 ***HOUSE COVERAGE*** Credit: Star Shooter / MediaPunch/IPX
EXCLUSIVE - Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal at Open Road Films Special Screening of "Nightcrawler" on Monday, Oct 13, 2014, in Los Angeles, CA (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Open Road/AP Images)
In this Oct. 13, 2014 photo, actor Jake Gyllenhaal poses for a portrait at the Four Seasons hotel to promote his film, "Nightcrawler," in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
EXCLUSIVE - Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films at Open Road Films Special Screening of "Nightcrawler" on Monday, Oct 13, 2014, in Los Angeles, CA (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Open Road/AP Images)
Producer Jake Gyllenhaal seen at Open Road Films' World Premiere of 'Nightcrawler' at the 2014 TIFF on September 5, 2014, in Toronto. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Open Road Films/AP Images)
FILE - In this March 20, 2014 file photo, US actor Jake Gyllenhaal poses for the photographers during the Spain Premiere of the movie "Enemy" in Madrid, Spain. Gyllenhaal will make his Broadway debut later this year with a work by a playwright he’s come to admire. The Manhattan Theatre Club said Thursday, June 12, 2014, the “Brokeback Mountain” star will appear in Nick Payne’s “Constellations,” which has been a hit in London. (AP Photo/Abraham Caro Marin, file)
US actor Jake Gyllenhaal poses for the photographers during the Spain Premiere of the movie "Enemy" in Madrid, Spain. Thursday, March 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Abraham Caro Marin)
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal watches the Los Angeles Lakers play the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Jake Gyllenhaal seen on the red carpet at the 2013 Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' Governor Awards, on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Los Angeles (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal presents during the Casting Society of America 29th Annual Artios Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Invision/AP)
Jake Gyllenhaal seen at Warner Bros. Premiere of 'Prisoners', on Thursday, Sep, 12, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros./AP Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends day one of Variety Studio: Actors On Actors presented by Samsung Galaxy on November 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Variety)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Jake Gyllenhaal attends AOL's BUILD Speaker Series: Jake Gyllenhaal Discusses His New Film 'Nightcrawler' at AOL Studios In New York on November 3, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29: Jake Gyllenhaal is seen filming 'Demolition' in Hudson River Park on October 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0151 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays 'Water Wars' with host Jimmy Fallon on October 29, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0151 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays 'Water Wars' with host Jimmy Fallon on October 29, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29: Jake Gyllenhaal and director Jean-Marc Vallee are seen filming 'Demolition' in Hudson River Park on October 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends the 'Nightcrawler' New York Premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on October 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: [EDITOR'S NOTE: Image has been digitally processed] Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Jake Gyllenhaal attends Annual Charity Day Hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal (L) and director Jean-Marc Vallee attend the HFPA & InStyle's 2014 TIFF celebration at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival at Windsor Arms Hotel on September 6, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Jake Gyllenhaal at the 'Nightcrawler' Press Conference at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel on September 5, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)
Jake Gyllenhaal Promotes 'Brokeback Mountain' At The 62Nd Venice Film Festival. (Photo by Justin Goff\UK Press via Getty Images)
Scarlett Johansson and Jake Gyllenhaal during 2004 MTV Movie Awards - Backstage and Audience at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Ted Danson and Jake Gyllenhaal during Oceana's 2004 Partners Awards Gala - Arrivals at The Escuire House in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic)
Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal during 'Jarhead' New York City Premiere - Inside Arrivals at Ziegfeld's in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal arrives at the premiere of "Enemy" on day 4 of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at the Ryerson Theatre on Saunday, Sept. 8, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT - PREMIUM RATES APPLY Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and Lupita Nyong'o attend Entertainment Weekly’s Toronto Must List cocktail party at the Windsor Arms Hotel during the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision for Entertainment Weekly/AP Images)
Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal seen at Warner Bros. 'Prisoners' Premiere at 2013 TIFF presented by Audi, on Friday, Sep, 6, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros. Pictures/AP Images)
Jake Gyllenhaal seen at Warner Bros. 'Prisoners' Premiere at 2013 TIFF presented by Audi, on Friday, Sep, 6, 2013 in Toronto. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros. Pictures/AP Images)
Jake Gyllenhaal presents the award for the original dude to Jeff Bridges at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jake Gyllenhaal in a scene from "Prisoners." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Wilson Webb)
Honoree Jake Gyllenhaal attends the New Eyes for the Needy 80th Anniversary Gala on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Michael Pena, left, and Jake Gyllenhaal, cast members in the film "End of Watch," pose together for a portrait at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
U.S actor Jake Gyllenhaal, a member of the Jury, at the press conference during the 62 edition of International Film Festival Berlinale, in Berlin Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal arrives at the premiere of the feature film "Source Code" in Los Angeles on Monday, March 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
Jake Gyllenhaal arrives at a screening of 'Source Code' on the first night of the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas on Friday, March 11, 2011.(AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)
Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and Gwyneth Paltrow are seen backstage at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jake Gyllenhaal at the ceremony where movie and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer added his hand and footprints to some 200 other celebrity impressions in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles Monday, May 17, 2010. The ceremony comes 11 days before the release of Bruckheimer's latest film, "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time." Bruckheimer's films have earned worldwide revenues of more than $15 billion in box office, home entertainment and music receipts and have garnered 41 Academy Award nominations and six Oscars. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
British actress Gemma Arterton and U.S. actor Jake Gyllenhaal arrive at the world premiere of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, at a cinema in Westfield in west London, Sunday, May 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
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"I think losing Heath and being a part of a family that was something like the movie, the 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.

WATCH: Kate Hudson's Best On-Screen Kiss Was With Heath Ledger

Gyllenhaal, 34, found that the death of his friend and co-star taught him how to appreciate those around him.

"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," the Southpaw star admitted. "And I know, not only can this career end in a very short period of time and this or that can happen, but that life is precious."

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Ledger and his other Brokeback Mountain co-star, Michelle Williams, welcomed a daughter in 2005, and in a recent interview, the late star's sister praised the actress for how she's raising their child. "And her existence, although different from most, is as normal as possible in an abnormal world," Kate Ledger said of Matilda's upbringing.

Heath Ledger's Family Praises Michelle Williams On Raising Daughter Matilda

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