Heath Ledger based Brokeback character on ‘homophobic gay’ uncle

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Late actor Heath Ledger based his ‘Brokeback Mountain’ character on his “homophobic gay” uncle, Ang Lee has said.

Speaking ahead of the film’s tenth anniversary, Lee told Variety.com that Ledger had looked to his family when researching his role as Ennis Del Mar.

“Heath came in and wanted to do it right away. I think he told me that he learned from one of his uncles, who is also a very macho, homophobic gay, much like Ennis, and also a rancher,” he said.

Lee went on to say he was emotionally affected by the film from the first time he laid eyes on the story.

“I cried at the end of reading the short story, and I couldn’t figure out why I was so moved. The language was unfamiliar to me. Actually, nothing was familiar to me. But the idea of a mysterious romance up on Brokeback Mountain – one that once you leave, you are always pursuing and can never get back – always haunted me,” he said.

The film’s producer James Schamus said he acted out a scene from the film when he first met the star.

He said: “I remember when I met Heath. He came to my apartment, in Columbia University housing. He arrived at my front door, and we’d been joking around about the tent scene where he spits in his hand. I pretended to spit in my hand before I shook his hand, and said, ‘Come on in, man. We’re doing this’. I was such a fan already.”