Heath Ledger hated gay jokes about Brokeback Mountain, says Jake Gyllenhaal

A still from the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain showing actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger dressed in their cowboy outfits with Ledger standing close to Gyllenhaal with his arm around him

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal has revealed that Heath Ledger, his late co-star in the groundbreaking film Brokeback Mountain, hated jokes made at the expense of the movie’s gay romantic storyline.

Gyllenhaal also opened up about how the 2005 film, which depicts a romantic relationship between two men in the American West from 1963 to 1983, paved the way for his acting career.

Speaking to The Today Show on Thursday (July), the 38-year-old actor explained that Heath, who tragically died from an accidental drugs overdose in 2008, would shut down anti-gay remarks about Brokeback Mountain.

“I see people who have joked with me or criticised me about lines I say in that movie — and that’s the thing I loved about Heath,” explained Gyllenhaal.

“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. Like, no.’”

Heath Ledger shut down gay jokes about Brokeback Mountain

Actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger share a joke at the premiere for Brokeback Mountain at the Palazzo del Cinema in Venice, Italy, on September 2, 2005. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Brokeback Mountain, based on the Annie Proulx’s 1997 short story of the same name, was met with critical acclaim on its release and went on to win numerous awards, including three Academy Awards. It grossed more than $178 million worldwide in its 133-day film run in theatres.

He would never joke. Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, ‘No. This is about love’

Discussing the impact the film had on his career, Gyllenhaal said: “It opened tons of doors. It was crazy. It was amazing. It’s defined my career in different ways.”

Brokeback Mountain “defined my career,” says Gyllenhaal

He also talked about the legacy of Ang Lee’s movie, noting that it is “bigger than me.”

Gyllenhaal added: “It has become not ours anymore. It’s the world’s.”

In December, it was revealed that Brokeback Mountain would be added to prestigious US Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.