Heath Ledger, nominee Best Actor in a Leading Role for ?Brokeback Mountain? at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
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Heath Ledger Helped Jake Gyllenhaal See The Seriousness Of Brokeback Mountain
2005's "Brokeback Mountain" has often been ridiculed, from being called "the gay cowboy film," to being a source of mockery in films such as “Scary Movie 4.” Jake Gyllenhaal has defended the movie over the years, but it was his late co-star, Heath Ledger, and his refusal to treat the film as a joke ‌that helped him to get there.
Gyllenhaal explained to Another Man Magazine in April 2020 how Ledger refused to perform a skit at the 2006 Academy Awards ceremony, saying, "'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.'" Ledger stood firm in that this movie "is about love. Like, that's it, man. Like, no."
While the movie itself has since been overshadowed by more radical works of queer cinema, it still holds a deeply personal meaning for many real-life individuals. In an interview with Vanity Fair in April 2022, Gyllenhaal recounted a Q and A following a screening in LA that drove the realization home for him and Ledger.
"A man stood up […] 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,'" Gyllenhaal said. He went on to say, "I remember the wash of that over us ... the profundity of this thing washed over us. It happens constantly to this day, and I can't really express how proud I am of it."