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Ang Lee had to mediate the 'friction' between Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger while filming Brokeback Mountain
Featured Image Credit: Focus Features

Ang Lee had to mediate the 'friction' between Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger while filming Brokeback Mountain

Ang Lee directed Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, and that included navigating the pair's 'clash of styles'

Ang Lee has admitted that he had to deal with some ‘friction’ between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal when the pair were filming together on Brokeback Mountain. You remember that one, right?

Here’s the trailer just to jog your memory:

Both Ledger and Gyllenhaal were praised for their performance in the 2005 film, which was nominated for seven awards – winning three – at the 78th Academy Awards, but not everything was completely smooth during their time filming, according to their director.

Whilst he said that he truly loved both of their performances, it became clear that the two actors had a ‘clash of styles’ quite early on.

In a tribute to Ledger – who died in 2008 – the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon filmmaker said: “Heath’s aura powers the whole story. He did a lot of preparation, mostly on his own. And he often surprised me with what he brought to his work,

“One aspect I cherish was getting to witness Heath and Jake develop that relationship between their characters.

“I saw it unfold right in front of my eyes, from rehearsal all the way to filming.”

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
Focus Features

Whilst that was all well and good, there were problems on set.

To start with, fellow star Michelle Williams sustained an injury, which revealed the different approach that Ledger had to his co-stars.

Lee explained: “Michelle Williams broke her knee during pre-shooting, but Heath was always looking after her.

“He was so naturally caring towards Michelle.

“When it came to Jake, Heath had a very different attitude towards their work. Sometimes there was friction — not quarrelling, but a clash of styles.

“Sometimes I would mediate that, but they were both good in different ways. They would always make the effort to find a way through.”

He continued: “In his heart, I think Heath knew the character of Ennis deeply.

“On a technical level, he took direction very well, but worked alone.

“He’s not someone you really needed to talk to a lot, because he was very independent. For me, if the result is right, then I’m happy.

“If it’s not, I could tell him, and he would work something else out.”

Ang Lee with the two stars on set.
Maximum Film/Alamy Stock Photo

In the end, the film was hailed as a huge moment for LGBT+ representation in cinema, even though both main characters are not gay.

When the film did not pick up the Best Picture accolade at the Oscars, losing out to Crash, there was much outcry, with some labelling the Academy as homophobic and being afraid to select a truly groundbreaking tale.

Of Ledger, Lee added: “Heath Ledger was a brilliant young actor,

“God only knows what he would have achieved later in life. He had so much talent — I’m sure he would have been a great director.

“We are all very lucky we were able to make movies with an actor of that calibre. He had a God-given gift.”

Heath Ledger died in 2008.
Photo 12/Alamy Stock Photo

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Gyllenhaal once said: “The relationship between me and Heath while we were making this movie was something that was based on a profound love for a lot of people that we knew and were raised by in our lives, a deep respect for their love and their relationship,

“There were many jokes being made about the movie, or poking fun at, things like that.

“And [Ledger’s] consummate devotion to how serious and important the relationship between these two characters was — it showed me how devoted he was as an actor and how devoted we both were to the story and the movie.”

Topics: Celebrity, Entertainment, Film and TV, Jake Gyllenhaal, LGBTQ, Heath Ledger