'It’s not a joke': Heath Ledger refused to make fun of Brokeback Mountain at Oscars

Marni Dixit
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·2-min read

Jake Gyllenhaal has revealed his late friend and Brokeback Mountain co-star Heath Ledger refused to make fun of the homosexual relationship at the centre of their movie and even went so far as to refuse a presenting role at the 2006 Oscars.

Heath sadly passed away at the age of 28 in 2008 following an accidental overdose.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain
Jake Gyllenhaal has revealed that Heath Ledger refused to joke about the homosexual relationship in Brokeback Mountain. Photo: Focus Features

In an interview with Another Man Magazine, the reporter, Chris Heath, mentioned to Jake that when he watched old TV interviews from 2005 when Brokeback Mountain was released, he was surprised at how homophobic much of the banter seemed to be.

Jake responded, "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.’”

The actor 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 Chris comments on how smart Heath was, Jake responds, "Absolutely."

While the film was nominated in the 2006 Academy Awards for Best Picture, it ultimately lost to Crash, which came as a surprise to many.

Jake has previously opened up about how Heath's death affected him, telling People Magazine in 2016, "Personally, it affected me in ways I can’t necessarily put in words or even would want to talk about publicly."

"In terms of professionally, I think I was at an age where mortality was not always clear to me."

Jake Gyllenhaal opened up about how Heath Ledger's death affected him saying "Personally, it affected me in ways I can’t necessarily put in words or even would want to talk about publicly." Photo: Getty
Jake Gyllenhaal opened up about how Heath Ledger's death affected him saying "Personally, it affected me in ways I can’t necessarily put in words or even would want to talk about publicly." Photo: Getty

Jake was 27 when Heath passed away and hadn't experienced much loss in his life at that point.

“It [gave me] the experience of, ‘This is fleeting.’ And none of the attention or synthesised love that comes from the success of a film really matters at all,” he said.

“What matters is the relationships you make when you make a film, and the people you learn from when you’re preparing for a film. That changed a lot for me.”

The movie served as a breakout moment for both Jake and Heath, who earned themselves Oscar nominations for the film.

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