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Heath Ledger refused to present at the 79th annual Academy Awards because he didn't want to condone jokes about the 2006 movie "Brokeback Mountain."

Heath Ledger Didn't Present at 2007 Oscars Over 'Brokeback' Jokes

Gettyimages | Carlo Allegri
By Brenda Neugent

The year after Heath Ledger was nominated for Best Actor and Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for their roles in Ang Lee's 'Brokeback Mountain,' Ledger refused to present at the Academy Awards due to concerns over jokes regarding the movie featuring a romance between the two cowboys, Gyllenhaal said in a recent interview with the British magazine Another Man. According to Gyllenhaal, Ledger had too much respect for the work, which took home three Oscars in 2006, although none in the acting categories.

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Gyllenhaal Was More Laidback About 'Brokeback'

Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for his only Oscar in 2006 for his role in "Brokeback Mountain."
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"I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it," Gyllenhaal 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.'" Lee groundbreaking movie won three 2006 Oscars, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.

Ledger Took Movie Role Seriously

Jake Gyllenhaal has not yet seen "Brokeback Mountain," more than 10 years after its release.

In a 10-year retrospective about the movie, Gyllenhaal told Out magazine that his late costar - Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose in 2008, two years after the movie was released - was truly focused on the importance of the politics of the controversial movie. "He was extraordinarily serious about the political issues surrounding the movie when it came out. 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."

Movie Was Groundbreaking for Both

Jake Gyllenhaal appeared in his first movie, "City Slickers," in 1991.

'Brokeback Mountain' was a movie that changed Gyllenhaal, not just because of the movie's impact, but also because of his relationship with Ledger. "We talked a lot. Heath would say stuff to me like, 'I really think this character is very sensitive to light and I think he's very sensitive to sound. He doesn't really like being around any place that's too noisy.' We would talk a lot about that," Gyllenhaal told "And then when it came to doing love scenes and stuff like that, the best metaphor I can give is that it felt like we were both like, 'Are you ready? Yeah. Let’s go,' and we dove off the boat into the deep end."

Gyllenhaal Misses Late Costar

Heath Ledger played The Joker in "A Dark Knight," released after his death.
Gettyimages | Paul Kane

"It's like when you're terrified of the water, you see a little kid thrown in the water and they're trying to get back to the boat as fast as they can. That's what it was like. But at the same time when we were there we really went for it," Gyllenhaal said. "I miss him as a human being and I miss working with him and what an unfortunate thing it is that we won't be able to see the beauty of his expression," Gyllenhaal later told 'Fresh Air' on NPR. "I think losing Heath and being a part of a family that was something like the movie, that movie we all made together, makes you appreciate that and hopefully moves you away from the things that really don't matter to the things that do."

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