Jake Gyllenhaal Says Heath Ledger Hated “Brokeback Mountain” Jokes

"'No. This is about love.'"

We still can’t quit Brokeback Mountain.

Looking back at his Oscar-nominated performance as Jack Twist in the 2005 film, which many dismissed as “the gay cowboy movie,” Jake Gyllenhaal tells Willie Geist of Sunday Today that Heath Ledger, his late costar, would shut down any homophobic remarks he’d hear about its core romance.

“I see people who have joked with me or criticized me about lines I say in that movie,” Gyllenhaal, 38, says in a preview from Sunday’s episode of the NBC show. “And that’s the thing I loved about Heath, is 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.” Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose in 2008 at the age of 28.

Gyllenhaal also discusses the film’s impact on audiences and his own career: “I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ This is a level of focus and attention that hits a certain nerve that you’re like, ‘This is bigger than me.’”

“It opened tons of doors,” he adds, “and it has defined my career in different ways.”

Earlier this month Gyllenhaal spoke to GQ about how he and Ledger were “two straight guys” cast in Brokeback.

Brokeback Mountain/Focus Features

“I think we had been cast for our ‘essences’ without really understanding what our ‘essences’ were—and that’s outside of our sexuality,” the Spider-Man: Far From Home star said, “but who we are, who we were, [director] Ang [Lee] could see. And I don’t know if I could.”

“To make a movie that even just works is a miracle. When it resonates even beyond that, it’s impossible. And it has nothing to do with you in the end,” he continued. “It had nothing to do with me. It came to me, I was honored to be a part of it, and it is now everyone else’s in a way that I can’t even fathom.”

Gyllenhaal is currently appearing on Broadway in Sea Wall/A Life.

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