Jake Gyllenhaal Reveals Heath Ledger 'Refused' to Present at Oscars Over Brokeback Mountain Joke

Heath Ledger was dedicated to the message behind the groundbreaking film Brokeback Mountain — so much so that he refused to make jokes about the film’s homosexual love story.

In a recent interview with Another Man magazine, Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred opposite Ledger in Ang Lee’s film, said that the late actor refused to present at the 2007 Academy Awards over a joke involving their characters’ romantic relationship.

“I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it, Gyllenhaal, 39, recalled.

“And Heath refused,” he explained. “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.’ ”

The actor added, “That’s the thing I loved about Heath. 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.’ ”

Gyllenhaal has also been open up the deep impact Ledger’s death in 2008 has had on him.

“Personally, it affected me in ways I can’t necessarily put in words or even would want to talk about publicly,” Gyllenhaal told PEOPLE in 2016. “In terms of professionally, I think I was at an age where mortality was not always clear to me.”

Having turned 27 at the time of Ledger’s death, Gyllenhaal said that he had not lost many friends at that point in his life.

“It [gave me] the experience of, ‘This is fleeting.’ And none of the attention or synthesized love that comes from the success of a film really matters at all,” he shared. “What matters is the relationships you make when you make a film, and the people you learn from when you’re preparing for a film. That changed a lot for me.”

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