Jake Gyllenhaal reveals gay joke is reason Heath Ledger refused to present at Oscars

Heath Ledger refused to present at the Oscars in 2007 after being asked to make fun of their characters’ gay romance in Brokeback Mountain, according to co-star Jake Gyllenhaal.

Based on a 1997 award-winning short story of the same name, “Brokeback Mountain” depicts a relationship in the Wyoming mountains between cowboy Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and farmhand Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). The film received eight nominations at the Academy Awards in 2006, winning three. It won best adapted screenplay, best musical score and best director for Ang Lee. It was expected to win best picture but surprisingly Crash, starring Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon, took home the gong.

The pair were asked to present at the ceremony the following year, but a joke written into the opening monologue about the same-sex love story dissuaded Ledger from attending, according to Gyllenhaal.

He would never joke

In the interview for Another Man Magazine Jake Gyllenhaal spoke about Ledger’s refusal to attend.



“I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” he says. “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.’”

“I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” he says. “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.’”

“That’s the thing I loved about Heath. He would never joke,” Gyllenhaal added. “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.’”

When released in 2005, the film was deemed controversial by conservative critics who were unhappy at its portrayal of homosexuality.

Ledger went on to star as the Joker in The Dark Knight, but died following an accidental overdose of prescription medications in January 2008, before its release later that year.