'He told me that he learned from one of his uncles': Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee dishes on the late Heath Ledger saying he based gay cowboy role on a relative
Late actor Heath Ledger based his famous role as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain on his 'homophobic gay' uncle, according to the film's director Ang Lee.
As the Oscar-winning film reaches its tenth anniversary, Lee and the film's producer, James Schamus, reminisced about the casting and the making of the film in 2005.
Lee told Variety.com that she remembers Ledger looked to his family for inspiration for his gay character Ennis Del Mar.
The late Heath Ledger: Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee has said Heath based his character in the film, Ennis Del Mar, on one of his uncles
Co-stars: Heath appeared in the film opposite Jake Gyllenhaal
'Heath came in and wanted to do it right away,' Lee told Variety.
'I think he told me that he learned from one of his uncles, who is also a very macho, homophobic gay, much like Ennis, and also a rancher.
As for producer Schamus, when he met Ledger, he remembers being a little awestruck and tried to act out a scene from the upcoming film.
'I remember when I met Heath,' he said. 'He came to my apartment in Columbia University housing.
'He arrived at my front door, and we'd been joking around about the tent scene where he spits in his hand.
'I pretended to spit in my hand before I shook his hand, and said, "Come on in, man. We're doing this". I was such a fan already.'
Hollywood heavyweights: Director Ang Lee (left) and Producer James Schamus (right), have discussed Heath and the film Brokeback Mountain to Variety, as the flick celebrates it's tenth anniversary
The film is based on a short story written by Annie Proulx, which James said he had been trying to get made into a film for about six years.
Lee said he was affected by the story from the first time he read it.
'I cried at the end of reading the short story, and I couldn't figure out why I was so moved,' he said.
'The language was unfamiliar to me. Actually, nothing was familiar to me.
'But the idea of a mysterious romance up on Brokeback Mountain - one that once you leave, you are always pursuing and can never get back - always haunted me.
A complex relationship: The film explores the relationship of Heath and Jake's gay characters
Friends: Heath named Jake one of his daughter Matilda's godparents, who he shares with Michelle Williams
'There was a moment in the story where Jake says, "All we got is Brokeback Mountain."
That really hit me and touched my heart. I felt compelled to make the movie because of that mystery.'
Ledger was joined onscreen by Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway for the film.
Williams and Hathaway beat about 20 or 30 actresses for the roles which was particularly impressive for Hathaway, who auditioned for the part while still in costume for another role.
'Anne came in wearing heavy makeup and dressed as a princess, because she was shooting a parade scene for The Princess Diaries 2 on the Universal lot,' Lee said.
'She used her lunch hour to audition for the part.'
Castmates: Heath starred alongside (from left to right) Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway
From reel life to real life: Heath and Michelle played onscreen husband and wife and eventually began dating
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