Jake Gyllenhaal has said his Brokeback Mountain co-star Heath Ledger refused to present at the Oscars in 2007 after being asked to make fun of their characters’ gay romance.
The critically acclaimed film, which told the story of two cowboys who had a relationship in the American West from 1963 to 1983, had won three Academy Awards the previous year, with Gyllenhaal and Ledger both also receiving nominations.
In a new interview, Gyllenhaal has told how he and Ledger were invited back to the Oscars to present, and said they were asked if they would joke about the relationship.
The star, also known for films including Donnie Darko, Southpaw and Nightcrawler, said Ledger refused.
Speaking to Another Man magazine, Gyllenhaal said: “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’. 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 added: “That’s the thing I loved about Heath. 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.’ “
When Brokeback Mountain was released in 2005, it was deemed controversial by conservative critics unhappy at its portrayal of homosexuality.
Gyllenhaal played cowboy Jack Twist, while Ledger played Ennis Del Mar, another cowboy fighting his sexuality.
It won Oscars the following year for best adapted screenplay, best musical score and best director for Ang Lee. It had been widely tipped to win best picture too, but lost following a shock win for Crash.
Ledger went on to star as the Joker in The Dark Knight, but died following an accidental overdose of prescription medications in January 2008, before its release later that year.
The actor became only the second actor to win an Oscar posthumously for his performance, being named best supporting actor at the awards a month after his death.