Heath Ledger Rejected Oscars Bit Over Gay “Brokeback” Jokes

"Heath said, 'It’s not a joke to me,'" Jake Gyllenhaal recalls.

We still can’t quit Brokeback Mountain.

Reflecting on his performance as ranch hand Jack Twist in the 2005 film, which many dismissed as “the gay cowboy movie,” Jake Gyllenhaal tells Another Man that Heath Ledger, his late costar, wasn’t here for homophobic banter.

“I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” Gyllenhaal, 39, says in the new interview. “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 groundbreaking queer love story, directed by Ang Lee and adapted from a 1997 short story by Annie Proulx, received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and acting nods for both Gyllenhaal and Ledger. Ledger did attend the 2006 ceremony; he lost to Capote’s Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Brokeback Mountain/Focus Features

Last year Gyllenhaal told Willie Geist on NBC’s Sunday Today that Ledger, who played ranch hand Ennis Del Mar, would shut down any homophobic remarks he heard about Brokeback Mountain’s core romance.

“I see people who have joked with me or criticized me about lines I say in that movie. And that’s the thing I loved about Heath, is he would never joke,” the Spider-Man: Far From Home star said. “Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, ‘No. This is about love.’ Like, that’s it, man.”

Gyllenhaal played a bisexual art critic in the 2019 Netflix film Velvet Buzzsaw, marking his first queer role since Brokeback Mountain. He has reportedly secured the rights to produce a film adaptation of Broadway’s Fun Home, in which he will star as troubled gay patriarch Bruce Bechdel.

Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose in 2008 at the age of 28.

Celebrity interviewer. Foodie and Broadway buff in Manhattan. Hates writing bios.