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Jake Gyllenhaal Looks Back On Friendship With Heath Ledger

Gettyimages | Kevin Winter
By Francesca O'Hern

In 2005, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger starred in Ang Lee's 'Brokeback Mountain.' The groundbreaking film, about two cowboys who fall in love in the 1960s would become a critical success and earn eight Oscar nominations, including the two stars' first acting nods. Although it lost Best Picture to 'Crash' and neither Gyllenhaal nor Ledger won their acting awards, the two stood out that night for a different reason, one that Gyllenhaal recently recalled in an interview with 'Another Man.'

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Heath Ledger Would Not Make Jokes At The Ceremony

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In his interview, Gyllenhaal recalled how a lot of the conversation surrounding the film was homophobic, and that the homophobia was subtly disguised as comedy. "I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it," he remembered. He explained Ledger refused to do the opening because of the jokes. "Heath said, ‘It’s not a joke to me – I don’t want to make any jokes about it,'" Gyllenhaal revealed.

Heath Ledger Refused To Entertain Homophobic Jokes

Gettyimages | J. Vespa

Gyllehaal has spoken in the past about how Ledger never played along with the homophobic jokes that came after 'Brokeback Mountain' came out. While Gyllenhaal didn't see a huge problem at first, he realized how smart Ledger was. "...that's the thing I loved about Heath," Gyllenhaal told 'Today' back in 2019. "He would never joke. Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, 'No. This is about love'. Like, that's it, man. Like, no."

The Film Greatly Impacted Both Of Their Careers

Jake Gyllenhaal

Besides earning both Ledger and Gyllenhall each of their first Academy Award nominations (Ledger for Best Actor and Gyllenhaal for Best Supporting Actor), the film became bigger than either one of them and truly set their careers off. "It opened tons of doors. It was crazy. It was amazing. It’s defined my career in different ways," Gyllenhall said. Even outside of that, Gyllenhaal recognizes that it has become a sort of cultural icon and an important moment in film history. "[The film is] bigger than me…It has become not ours anymore. It’s the world’s."

What Is Gyllenhaal Up To Now?

Gettyimages | Kevin Winter

At the moment, Gyllenhaal is taking a break from film acting, instead choosing to focus on the stage and on producing. His production company, Nine Stories, has 30 projects in development. He was also scheduled to reprise his role in 'Sunday in the Park with George' at the Savoy Theatre in London this summer, which at the time of writing still looks to be on. Otherwise, Gyllenhaal is enjoying his time both in New York and London, seeing family, and cooking.

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