More than 10 years have passed since the film caused a sensation, scoring Oscar nominations for stars Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, as well as awarding director Ang Lee his first Oscar statuette.
For Gyllenhaal, the success of the film was a shock.
“I think we had been cast for our ‘essences’ without really understanding what our ‘essences’ were – and that’s outside of our sexuality – we’re two straight guys cast in these roles, but who we are, who we were, Ang could see,” he recalls.
“And I don’t know if I could. So when the movie had the response that it had …. I don’t think we recognized what Ang had seen in us so we were blind at the profundity and the echo the movie made … and I don’t think we ever had any idea it would have the impact that it had.”
Gyllenhaal adds that rehearsal played a key role in developing his rapport with co-star Ledger, and in building their characters. He also reels at the ongoing legacy of the film as a classic story of two men in love.
“To make a movie that even just works is a miracle,” he admits. “When it resonates even beyond that, it’s impossible. And it has nothing to do with you in the end.”
“Just being in Brokeback Mountain, that’s the feeling I have. I feel that deeply about it. It had nothing to do with me. It came to me, I was honored to be a part of it, and it is now everyone else’s in a way that I can’t even fathom.”