Fourteen years after its release, “Brokeback Mountain” is seen as a modern classic. The 2005 film was forward-thinking in its portrayal of a gay relationship between two cowboys, prompting some viewers to scrutinize the off-screen lives of its stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger.
Gyllenhaal reflected on the impact “Brokeback Mountain” had on his Hollywood career in a forthcoming interview with “Sunday Today.” He also shared a sweet memory about Ledger, who died in 2008 of an accidental drug overdose.
“I see people who have joked with me or criticized me about lines I say in that movie — and that’s the thing I loved about Heath,” the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” star told host Willie Geist. “He would never joke.”
He continued, “Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, ‘No. This about love.’”
Directed by Ang Lee and based on the short story by Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” won three Academy Awards and made Gyllenhaal and Ledger ― both of whom were Oscar-nominated for their performances ― bankable stars. The two men remained close off-screen, too, with Gyllenhaal becoming godfather to Ledger’s daughter, Matilda Rose.
In the intervening years, Gyllenhaal has mostly stayed quiet about his friendship with Ledger, telling People in 2016 his co-star’s death “affected me in ways I can’t necessarily put in words or even would want to talk about publicly.”
In 2015, he told NPR that he missed Ledger “as a human being,” adding, “I think losing Heath and being a part of a family that was something like the movie, the movie we all made together, makes you see that, makes you appreciate that and hopefully moves you away from the things that really don’t matter to the things that do.”
As for “Brokeback Mountain,” Gyllenhaal said in his “Sunday Today” interview that the film “defined my career in different ways” and, for that, he remains grateful.
“This little movie we made that meant so much to us has now become not ours anymore,” he said. “It’s the world’s.”
Watch a snippet from Jake Gyllenhaal’s “Sunday Today” interview, which airs July 28 on NBC, below.