Jake Gyllenhaal says Heath Ledger said NO to Oscar gig over 'Brokeback Mountain' gay joke
Heath Ledger, who tragically passed from an accidental drug overdose in 2008, shared a close friendship with Jake Gyllenhaal. The actors starred together in the award-winning 'Brokeback Mountain,' and Gyllenhaal recently talked a little more about how seriously Ledger took the movie.
'Brokeback Mountain' is the love story of two cowboys and the subject matter had garnered a lot homophobic jokes that Ledger was very much against. In fact, he turned down being in an opening at the Academy Awards because of how they wanted to make a joke about it.
In a recent interview with Another Man, Gyllenhaal stated that Ledger refused to present at the Academy Awards in 2007 because of the joke. "I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it," he said. "And Heath refused. I was sort of at the time, ‘Oh, okay... whatever.’ I’m always like: it’s all in good fun. And Heath said, 'It’s not a joke to me – I don’t want to make any jokes about it.'" When asked, Gyllenhaal said that in retrospect it was "absolutely" the smart thing to do.
Gyllenhaal spoke about his experience with 'Brokeback Mountain' and said that even after all these years, he still can't bring himself to watch the movie. He also talked about his experience working on the film. "There are things you're chosen for – a quality, an essence – and Ang (Lee) did that. And it’s still a mystery to me. And something that Heath and I shared: that it was a mystery to us at the time," he said.
Gyllenhaal has talked before about how he and Ledger first met. In an interview with GQ Austraila, he said the two met at the audition for 'Moulin Rouge', and bonded over "mutual frustration" that neither of them got the part. "I was auditioning for Moulin Rouge! Baz Luhrmann had chosen three actors. It was Ewan (McGregor), it was Heath, and me," Gyllenhaal said. "And we auditioned with many different actresses, it was a long process. But I never met Heath, I only heard about him. We would be shuffled in and out of rooms. They would literally put me in a room and lock the door and Heath would come in and then Heath would be shuffled through the door."
Gyllenhaal wasn't the only person Ledger grew close to during the shooting of 'Brokeback Mountain'. Ledger met and developed a relationship with co-actor Michelle Williams in 2004. The pair had a child together, Matilda Rose. Gyllenhaal is her godparent, along with Michelle Williams' 'Dawson's Creek' co-star Busy Philipps.
Ledger, who would have celebrated his 41st birthday this month, continues to live on in people's memories and is missed.