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Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal Says Heath Ledger Refused to Present at the Oscars Because of 'Brokeback Mountain' Jokes

Gettyimages | Kevin Winter
By Joe Allen

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger delivered incredible performances in "Brokeback Mountain," but the Oscars chose not to reward either of them. It also decided against awarding the film with Best Picture, and instead gave the top prize to the widely derided "Crash."

A year after the film lost, Ledger and Gyllenhaal were asked to present at the 2007 Oscars ceremony. Now, Gyllenhaal is explaining why Ledger refused to take the presenting gig when it was initially offered to him back then.

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Jake Gyllenhaal
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In an interview with Another Man Magazine, Gyllenhaal explained that Ledger turned down the idea of presenting because it would mean making gay jokes at the expense of the characters he and Gyllenhaal play in the film.

“I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it. And Heath refused. I was sort of at the time, ‘Oh, okay… whatever,'" Gyllenhaal recalled during the interview, saying that Ledger was very serious about it.

Heath Ledger
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"I’m always like, ‘It’s all in good fun,'" Gyllenhaal said. "And Heath said, ‘It’s not a joke to me – I don’t want to make any jokes about it.’"

Gyllenhaal said that was one of the late actor's best qualities. “That’s the thing I loved about Heath," Gyllenhaal explained. "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.'” Ledger took his characters seriously, which is why he gave a number of memorable performances.

Jake Gyllenhaal on the red carpet
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Ledger was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Philip Seymour Hoffman. He would go on to win a posthumous Oscar for his performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." To date, Gyllenhaal's nomination for "Brokeback Mountain" is still the only Oscar nomination the actor has ever received.

Gyllenhaal has previously discussed about how much Ledger disliked jokes that were made at the expense of "Brokeback Mountain," and also said that the film proved to be a pivotal point in his own career.

Heath Ledger
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“It opened tons of doors,” he said on "Today" in 2019. “It was crazy. It was amazing. It’s defined my career in different ways. [But the film] is bigger than me…It has become not ours anymore. It’s the world’s.”

"Crash's" victory over "Brokeback" at that year's Oscars is widely considered to be one of the worst mistakes that the ceremony ever made. At the time, the film's loss was seen in part as the result of Hollywood's continued homophobia well into the 2000s.

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