4 Actors Who Turned Down “Brokeback Mountain”

Original director Gus Van Sant says multiple leading men didn't want to go camping.

Brokeback Mountain’s first director Gus Van Sant is currently making the rounds to promote his latest film, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. In the process, he’s also spilling some piping hot Hollywood tea.

In an interview with IndieWire, Van Sant discussed being approached to direct Brokeback Mountain, a job that eventually went to Ang Lee who won an Oscar for his work.

“I was working on it, and I felt like we needed a really strong cast, like a famous cast. That wasn’t working out,” recalled Van Sant. “I asked the usual suspects: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ryan Phillippe. They all said no.”

Brokeback Mountain producer Diana Ossana confirmed the director’s story to IndieWire, saying that all the actors turned down the project “for various reasons.”

Damon, who previously worked with Van Sant on Good Will Hunting, told Entertainment Weekly in 2007, Brokeback Mountain is a movie he regrets not doing, but at the time, he didn’t feel the project was right for him.

“Gus Van Sant wanted to do [Brokeback Mountain] with me and Joaquin Phoenix. But I was on my way to Italy to do The Talented Mr. Ripley and then All the Pretty Horses. And Gus wanted to do Brokeback right after. And I was like, ’Gus, I’m going to do a gay movie, then a cowboy movie. I can’t follow it up with a gay-cowboy movie!'”

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.