Jake Gyllenhaal reflects on his experience filming Brokeback Mountain and how his relationship with the late Heath Ledger was based “on a profound love”.
The 2006 movie, directed by Ang Lee, told ‘the story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys and their lives over the years’ and, to this day, is still considered an iconic cornerstone in terms of gay cinema, despite the fact its two lead actors were straight.
Jake’s portrayal of of Jack Twist in the movie alongside Ledger, who played Twist’s love interest Ennis Del Mar, earned both actors Oscar nominations along with an army of queer fans.
Ledger then tragically died in 2008, at just 28-years-old.
In a recent video for Vanity Fair‘s YouTube channel, 41-year-old actor Gyllenhaal opened up about some of the most iconic movie titles within his impressive catalogue which included Brokeback Mountain, now one of the biggest LGBT+ titles in history.
The full interview (below) is 23 minutes long so we’ve rounded up the
gay best bits.
“The relationship between me and Heath while we were making this movie was something that was based on a profound love for a lot of people that we knew and were raised by in our lives,” he told Vanity Fair. “A deep respect for their love and their relationship.”
Referencing controversy a movie centred in a gay love story inevitably drew upon its release in 2006, Jake said:
“There were many jokes being made about the movie, or poking fun at, things like that,”
“And [Ledger’s] consummate devotion to how serious and important the relationship between these two characters was—it showed me how devoted he was as an actor and how devoted we both were to the story and the movie.”
The Donnie Darko star went on to detail more about the filming process, saying: “We spent three weeks shooting, making everyone coffee and then eating a little breakfast and then walking to work. It’s a technique of movie-making that I wished we did more of, where we all just powwowed and lived together in the space.”
Gyllenhaal also fondly recalled meeting a fan with Ledger at a screening:
“We sat down, the lights came up, and a man stood up – and the movie had been out for a week and a half – and he said, ‘I just want to say, this is my 11th time seeing this movie, and I can’t stop watching it, and I just want to thank you all for making it.’ And I thought, 11 times in 10 days,” noting the “profound realisation” of the impact it had on fans at the time.
It’s not the first time in recent history Jake has reflected on the now pivotal gay romance movie, in September 2021 he shared his thoughts on straight actors playing gay roles, saying: “Part of the medicine of storytelling is that we were two straight guys playing these parts. There was a stigma about playing a part like that, you know, why would you do that? And I think it was very important to both of us to break that stigma,” he said.
Check out the full Vanity Fair interview below (along with a clip of Ledger responding to a homophobic journalist during a BM press junket).