We already missed Heath Ledger. Now we miss him even more.
In a new interview with Another Man, Ledger’s Brokeback Mountain co-star Jake Gyllenhaal recalls Ledger’s protectiveness over their work in the film, a love story between two ranch hands. In short, Ledger wouldn’t allow any jokes about the movie.
“I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” Gyllenhaal recalls. “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.”
Gyllenhaal’s recollection echoes Ledger’s sentiments he shared while doing press for the film. Ledger didn’t mince words with reporters who wanted to make homophobic jokes or poke fun at the film.
Heath Ledger's response to calling the relationship in "Brokeback Mountain" disgusting pic.twitter.com/CF71NGDvmD
— Izzie (@Izzie177) January 17, 2018
“I think it’s a real shame – I think it’s immature, for one,” Ledger said of the jokes surrounding the film. “I think it’s an incredible shame that people go out of their way to voice their disgust or their negative opinions about the ways in which two people love each other. At least share your opinions about how two people hate and show violence and anger toward one another. Isn’t that more important? I think so.”
“The pure fact of it is that it transcends a label. It’s human. It’s about two human beings, two souls in love. Get over the fact that it’s two men. That’s the point.”
Ledger concluded, “We’re showing that love between two men is just as infectious and emotional and strong and pure as heterosexual love. If you can’t understand that, just don’t go see the movie.”
Brokeback Mountain received immense critical acclaim upon its release, landing eight Academy Award nominations, including nods for Ledger and Gyllenhaal. The film would ultimately win three: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score. For Ledger and Gyllenhaal, the film marked the end of their teen idol days and reestablished both men as serious actors. Ledger died of an overdose in 2008, and would ultimately win a posthumous Academy Award a year later for The Dark Knight.