“Brokeback Mountain” Could Have been Very Different

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain"

Can you imagine Brokeback Mountain without Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal?

Neither can we.

Before Ang Lee signed on as director of the Oscar-winning picture, Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot director, Gus Van Sant was approached to direct the project.

Now, Van Sant revealed just how difficult it was to cast the 2005 picture, with many prominent actors turning down the chance to star in the film about two gay cowboys who start an affair behind their wives, backs.

Talking to IndieWire, the 65-year-old filmmaker said, “Nobody wanted to do it. I was working on it, and I felt like we needed a really strong cast, like a famous cast. That wasn’t working out. I asked the usual suspects: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ryan Phillippe. They all said no.”

Both Heath and Jake were nominated for Best Lead Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, at the Academy Awards, while the film ended up winning Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Lee.