Heath Ledger refused to present at the 2007 Oscars over 'gay joke'

Ben Arnold
·2-min read
Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain (Credit: Focus Features)
Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain (Credit: Focus Features)

Heath Ledger refused to present an award at the 2007 Oscars over a joke in the script about the gay relationship in Brokeback Mountain.

Ledger and his Brokeback co-star Jake Gyllenhaal were to present an award the year after their movie won a clutch of gongs.

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But according to Gyllenhaal, Ledger didn't see the funny side of a gag about the movie that they were asked to tell.

Speaking to Another Man magazine, Gyllenhaal said: “I mean, 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.’”

Chinese movie director Ang Lee, center,is flanked by Australian actor Heath Ledger, left, and US actor Jake Gyllenhaal during a photocall after a press conference to present their latest movie "Brokeback Mountain" at the 62nd edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice's Lido, northern Italy, Friday, Sept. 2, 2005. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
Heath Ledger, Ang Lee and Jake Gyllenhaal (Credit: AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

Gyllenhaal went on: “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.’”

Ledger played Ennis Del Mar in the movie, a ranch hand who meets Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist while working in the mountains of Wyoming one summer.

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The two men fall in love, but their relationship ends in tragedy.

Directed by Ang Lee from a short story by novelist Annie Proulx, it won Best Director for Lee, Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay, though both Ledger and Gyllenhaal lost out on the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor gongs.

The movie also lost out on Best Picture to Paul Haggis's Crash.

Ledger died three years later, at the age of 28, following an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.