Jake Gyllenhaal Says Heath Ledger Turned Down Oscars Over Brokeback Mountain Joke

The 2006 Oscars will forever go down as one of the worst ceremonies in history after the much-derided Crash beat out the groundbreaking Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture ― but it could have been even worse.

In an interview with Another Man magazine, Jake Gyllenhaal revealed that he and late co-star Heath Ledger were approached to contribute to the opening monologue and poke fun at the same-sex romance at the center of Ang Lee’s 2005 film.

While Jake was open to the idea, he recalled that Heath outright rejected the offer because he “refused” to make jokes at the expense of the film’s love story.

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

“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.’”

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Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger speak onstage during the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2006

“That’s the thing I loved about Heath,” he added, according to People. “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.’”

Jake went on to say that he “absolutely” agreed that Heath’s decision seemed “smart” in retrospect.

In fact, the opening to the 78th annual awards show hosted by Jon Stewart kicked off with a pre-filmed bit featuring Billy Crystal and Chris Rock peeking out of a Brokeback Mountain-style tent that hasn’t exactly aged well.

While the film’s two stars each received an acting nomination for their performances, both ended up going home empty-handed. However, the film did pick up trophies for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score.

Jake further reflected on the film, which he said he still can’t watch all these years later, and how its legacy is…

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