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Jake Gyllenhaal recalls working with Heath Ledger on “Brokeback Mountain” as film marks 10th anniversary

They will forever be linked in cinema history as doomed lovers Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal both earned Academy Award nominations for their portrayals of two ranch hands who fall deeply in love then struggle to try and lead heterosexual lives after going their separate ways.

Ledger died just three years after the film’s release at the age of 29. His death deeply shook Gyllenhaal who has rarely spoken of it publicly.

But on the occasion of their film’s 10th anniversary, Gyllenhaal shared some of his memories of Ledger.

‘I’d known Heath for a really long time before that movie. We were friends,’ he tells Out Magazine.

‘We went to a sort of boot camp, where we’d all hang out and learn to ride. Heath already knew how to ride really well, but we’d ride and hang out on the ranch outside of Los Angeles. It was really, really amazing.’

Gyllenhaal recalled that for the first month of shooting  the film, cast and crew lived by a river in small trailers, would wake up and make breakfast for each other and would walk to the set.

‘You know, in a world driven by commerce, particularly in the movie business, there’s no time spent together – relationships are fleeting,’ he said. ‘But in the old-school way, people really used to spend their time together. They became a family. And that’s what (director Ang Lee) created on the movie. It’s why we are all still close – not just bonded by the success of the film, but bonded by the experience. It was an intimate project in that way. … Heath and (co-star Michelle Williams) fell in love. It was a really special, special time.’

Gyllenhaal recalls Ledger being acutely sensitive about anyone making any jokes about the film’s gay subject matter.

‘He was extraordinarily serious about the political issues surrounding the movie when it came out,’ he said. ‘A lot of times people would want to have fun and joke about it, and he was vehement about being serious, to the point where he didn’t really want to hear about anything that was being made fun of.’

Brokeback Mountain would mark the first and last time the two young rising stars ever got to work together.

Said Gyllenhaal: ‘While there are many parts of the real story that are sad, one of the saddest things is that I won’t be able to exchange ideas creatively with Heath again, because that was one of the most beautiful things to come out of that.’

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6 Remarks

  1. July 30th, 2015 at 10:36 am
    K. Martinez says:

    I loved the film, but it made me feel depressed for a while after seeing it.


  3. Still hard to believe that Heath is no longer with us.

  4. @ R Morgan-I agree with you but why are you yelling?

  5. I am convinced that there must be something wrong with me because I did NOT like this movie. I was honestly extremely bored throughout the film and I felt as though the story went nowhere. I could easily tell that this was a short story that was converted into a longer story for the sake of making a Hollywood movie that reached an acceptable time length. I agreed with the Hollywood Academy when they gave their award to another film for film of the year. I think the movie brought gay awareness to others that may not have been aware of gay love, but beyond that, I would never subject myself to watching it again. It is also beyond depressing. The self-loathing of these characters is a real downer.

  6. What a movie, the “GAY LOVE STORY”, and I bought the the books for myself and straight friends (educational tool), I loved the actors before but obsessed I was with them after the movie so when Heath died, well it hurt badly. Jake, I love your work man.

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