Nominated for eight Academy Awards and eventually winning three, including Best Director, there’s no denying the huge cultural impact of Brokeback Mountain, not just on queer film, but for the portrayal of LGBT+ lives in mainstream cinema. It arrived in 2004, when attitudes towards the LGBT+ community were decidedly different, a fact recognised by Heath Ledger, as Jake Gyllenhaal shared in a recent interview.
During a recent conversation with Another Man magazine, interviewer Chris Heath mentioned, “I recently watched back old TV interviews from the time, I was jolted by how homophobic a lot of the banter seems, even when it was intending to be the opposite: gay cowboys, it’s all a tremendous joke.”
Gyllenhaal described how Ledger refused to join in on that joke. “I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it… 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.’”
Heath Ledger was nominated for the Best Actor award for the film, with Jake Gyllenhaal in the running for Best Supporting Actor. Neither won. Brokeback Mountain, a frontrunner for the top Award, would lose out to Crash – a film which hasn’t stood the test of time as strongly.
Gyllenhaal will again play an LGBT+ character in the upcoming film adaptation of the Broadway musical and graphic novel, Fun Home, based on the true life experiences of lesbian cartoonist, Alison Bechdel. Gyllenhaal, who also produces the film, will play her closeted father, Bruce, with whom she had a very tragic relationship.
A multi-Tony award winner, Fun Home was the first Broadway musical to have a lesbian protagonist. It features the character of Alison at three different stages in her life, each one played by a different actress. The film version has no release date as of yet.
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