Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Wouldn't Do 'Brokeback Mountain' Today

Saturday October 23, 2021
Originally published on October 15, 2021

Jake Gyllenhaal didn't understand the fuss over "Brokeback Mountain."

"For me, it was like, what is everyone saying? What is this about? I didn't get the full response. People joking about it, people being offended by it," he told Howard Stern in an interview, reports the website PRIDE.

But asked if he would play the role today, Gyllenhaal said, "Probably the answer is no, but when I look at it now as a way in which it paved an opportunity in a time when there was no real chance ... first of all, that two straight actors are going to play roles like that openly. The amount of flack we got for that was crazy. For a year after that, the amount of conversations about what my sexuality was, I was like alright guys, and girls.. chill out."

Stern asked what kind of advice he received when he took the role. "Early on, there were people going, 'what are you doing?'"

He brushed off the comments. "What am I doing? This is the most beautiful story I've ever read. With Ang Lee? One of the best..."

The actor, who recently turned 40, said that he was in a better place to understand gay relationships having grown up with a close relationship with a gay couple. "I grew up with my godfathers [who] were a gay couple. Maybe I grew up in a space where I took that for granted."

He added the film made him aware of the power of movie-making. "I realized the power of movie-making. That's what I realized. It has a power."

In the film, Gyllenhaal played opposite the late Heath Ledger as cowboys in the 1960s who have a difficult, long-term relationship. For the role, he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He won a BAFTA in that category for his performance.

Asked by the Evening Standard if he watched "Brokeback Mountain" or "Donny Darko," the dark 2001 indie that was his breakout role, when he had a free moment, he laughed, replying: "I do not!"

'It's not that I don't want to,' he says. 'I don't cringe at the idea. But 'Donni Darko' and 'Brokeback Mountain' were very different experiences for me than the finished movies. If I watch them, I remember what happened on that particular day of each scene. I have a strange photographic memory: I can remember exactly who was walking in the background behind the camera during a particular shot. Plus, once something is out there you get a response, people tell you what they think of it, and that clouds your own experience. Luckily, 'The Guilty' was a positive experience all 'round."

Gyllenhaal's latest film, "The Guilty," is streaming on Netflix.

Watch Gyllenhaal's interview below: