Jake Gyllenhaal prepared for Persia franchise

Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia Gyllenhaal beefed up for the role and grew his hair

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Actor Jake Gyllenhaal says he wants to be taken "a little less seriously" as an actor, and would love the Prince of Persia to become a franchise.

The 29-year-old, known for dramatic roles including Brokeback Mountain, said recognition as the Disney blockbuster hero would be an "honour".

"I think about kids saying 'you're the Prince of Persia!' That I wouldn't mind being locked into," he said.

Based on a video game, the fantasy film is released in the UK on 21 May.

Stars of the film, including Gyllenhaal and British actress Gemma Arterton, have also signed a deal for a sequel, but producers have stressed that the success of the initial outing - The Sands of Time - will secure a second movie.

Worked hard

The film is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who is behind the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise starring Johnny Depp.

Gyllenhaal, who shot to fame in indie hit Donnie Darko, said he wants to be taken "a little less seriously" as an actor.

"I wanted to fulfil the dreams of those movies I loved watching, like Robin Hood with Errol Flynn," he added of his new swashbuckling role.

"Who knows in two or three years time what other weird thing I'll do?" said the star.

Mike Newell, who directed Prince of Persia, admitted that he was initially unsure about Gyllenhaal in the role of an action hero.

But the UK film-maker added that the actor "worked his arse off" to make it work, including intensive physical training and cultivating a British accent.

"He was wonderful and absolutely took it on," said Newell, whose other credits include the fourth Harry Potter film and Four Weddings and A Funeral.

The film's UK premiere is due to take place at London's Westfield shopping complex on Sunday.

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