He caused hearts of both sexes to flutter as the lovelorn gay cowboy of Brokeback Mountain, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s latest role sees him wrestling one or two hunky guys to the ground . . . but this time it’s out of duty rather than pleasure.

In Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, Gyllenhaal plays Prince Dastan, the action film’s muscular hero who fights hordes of marauding enemies in order to save the world.

Based loosely on the video game of the same name, it’s a noisy affair and a far cry from the quietly beautiful Brokeback, which saw Gyllenhaal garner an Oscar nomination

‘But,’ he says, ‘it’s good to play different roles, and I probably wasn’t the obvious choice for Prince Of Persia — which is why I wanted to do it. It’s a very physically
demanding role.’
We’re used to seeing Gyllenhaal project a certain soulfulness on screen (think Brokeback or Brothers), but in Prince Of Persia he is tough and firm-jawed, and frequently shirtless.

The action sequences teem with balletic sword fights and visually stunning uses of parkour — the practice of running and vaulting fluidly over walls and other obstacles.

‘The experts would teach us every day,’ says Gyllenhaal. ‘We worked very closely with David Belle, who invented parkour, but I wanted to do the functional action myself. If I was going to run on walls, I really wanted to do it. I just tried to figure out how to do that and not get hurt.’

Gyllenhaal also worked hard on his English accent, which for some reason the film-makers believed would have been deployed by a prince in 6th-Century Persia.

In fact, the British influence is felt keenly throughout the movie. Ben Kingsley plays the evil nobleman Nizam, Alfred Molina plays Dastan’s mentor Sheik Amar, and Bond girl Gemma Arterton plays Dastan’s voluptuous love interest, the high priestess

The director is Mike Newell, best known for Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire and Four Weddings And A Funeral.

Prince of Persia has already taken £250 m worldwide, making it the highest grossing video-game-turned-movie ever released.

‘I played really intensely when I was doing research for the film,’ says Gyllenhaal. ‘I’d see a move and then ask if we could copy it.’

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time is on Disney Blu-ray, DVD and Download from September 13.