Heath Ledger declined to go to the one month cowboy camp that had been organized, as he had grown up on farms in Western Australia. Jake Gyllenhaal was required to attend, however, as he needed "roughing up".
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Jake Gyllenhaal is the godfather of co-stars Michelle Williams' and Heath Ledger's daughter Matilda Rose Ledger.
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Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams met and fell in love on the set of this film. She gave birth to their daughter, Matilda, shortly before the film premiered. However, they broke up in the fall of 2007.
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When asked if he had any fears about playing a gay man, Heath Ledger replied that he was not afraid of the role, only that he wasn't mature enough to do it justice.
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Heath Ledger, uncertain about the role when he was first offered it, was encouraged by his then girlfriend, Naomi Watts, to take it, immediately after they both read the script. After reading the script, Ledger said he would have flown to Taiwan to meet with Ang Lee in order to be hired for the role.
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According to reports, Heath Ledger nearly broke co-star Jake Gyllenhaal's nose while filming a kissing scene.
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Writer Annie Proulx sent both Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger an original, autographed copy of her story. When she signed the copy to Jake she wrote "To Jake..." but when she signed the copy she had intended to give to Heath she signed it "To Ennis". After writing out her personal message, she realized what she had done, and decided to let it be. At a private screening at Arclight in Hollywood, California, she reflected that Heath Ledger really was Ennis. She left the signed copy that way, because she had felt the actor embodied Ennis in every way she had imagined him.
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The poster for the film was deliberately styled to resemble another romantic epic, Titanic (1997).
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One of Daniel Day-Lewis' favorite films. He cites the reason for this as being Heath Ledger's performance. After Ledger's death, Day-Lewis dedicated his SAG award for There Will Be Blood (2007) to Ledger's memory, mentioning in particular the final scene in Ennis's trailer being "as moving as anything I have ever seen."
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Michelle Williams requested that her two male leads kiss in front of her to help her get to the right emotional place for her character, Alma. As she was involved with Ledger in real life, too, she felt that such a thing would help with her portrayal. She had to goad both men as their first few attempts were far too half-hearted for her liking.
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Ang Lee struggled continually with the sheep during the shoot. Apparently, sheep don't drink from running water, only ponds and dams. Ang tried all day to get them to drink from a stream, but they wouldn't oblige. He had to give up on the shot. Also, American sheep carry a bacteria or virus that Canadian sheeps don't possess. The film's scene where two herds of sheep become mixed-up, had some nightmarish real-life parallels, as the Canadian government had expressly warned them of dire consequences if they caused any disease to spread to the local animals from the south-of-the-border variety.
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Afraid that Anne Hathaway's previous films The Princess Diaries (2001) and Ella Enchanted (2004) would work against her during auditions, the casting director introduced Anne to Ang Lee as a New York City Broadway actress. Ang Lee hadn't seen any of Anne's nor Michelle Williams's previous works before he auditioned, and subsequently cast them in the film.
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Director Ang Lee gave Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal copies of the book, "Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest", by Will Fellows, a book that had been mentioned by both Annie Proulx and Diana Ossana as an excellent reference source, to help them understand their characters. Noting what he learned from his reading, Gyllenhaal said, "I don't think that these two characters even know what gay is."
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In an article published in Variety in 2015, to mark the ten-year anniversary of the release of Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee said that he was unfamiliar with Anne Hathaway before her audition, and he was told by the casting director that "the next actress coming in to read was going to apologize for her clothes and make-up, but to just let her do that, and go into the reading." This was because Hathaway was auditioning for Brokeback Mountain during her lunch break from filming The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) (also on the Universal lot), and, according to Lee, she read for the part of Lureen "wearing heavy make-up and dressed as a princess."
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According to producer James Schamus, the movie cost so little to make that it recouped its cost during its first week of limited release.
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There was an audible gasp at the Academy Awards when presenter Jack Nicholson read out Crash (2004) as 2005's Best Film over this film, much more favored. Nicholson himself admitted to being shocked as he too had voted for Ang Lee's film.
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During its first weekend of release (playing in only five U.S. theaters), this set a record for the highest per-screen gross of any non-animated movie in history.
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Heath Ledger has a nude scene in which he jumps into a lake. Ang Lee intended to edit any actual frontal nudity out of the film, but a paparazzo took photos of Ledger with a digital camera. The photos appeared on the Internet and in some press publications. The scene is included in the Australian and European versions of the film. It features Ledger and a stunt double for Jake Gyllenhaal jumping into a lake from a rock.
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Universal made the rare decision to release the film on DVD when it was still playing in theaters. It was also the first film to be released as a DVD and a download on the same day.
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Heath Ledger reckoned that the script for Brokeback Mountain (2005) was the best screenplay he'd ever read.
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On the night of the 2006 Academy Awards, Ang Lee candidly expressed disappointment backstage that the film failed to win Best Picture, even though he himself won Best Director. Lee added that he was especially sad Heath Ledger did not win Best Actor, as he was certain Ledger had delivered one of the great screen performances of all time.
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The song Jack plays on his harmonica is "He Was a Friend of Mine", the same song Willie Nelson sings during the closing credits.
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Among the actors considered for the male leads were Josh Hartnett, Colin Farrell, Matt Damon, Billy Crudup, and Ben Affleck.
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There were 75 visual effects shots created for the film by the Canadian house Buzz Image Group. Of these, fifteen were of CGI sheep. The film called for about 2,500 sheep, but only seven hundred were on-set, necessitating the additional woolly creations. Also created for the film, were sky replacements, set additions, erasures, and the hail in the hailstorm.
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The shirts worn by the two actors that feature prominently in the film were sold on eBay in February 2006 for $101,100. The buyer, film historian and collector Tom Gregory, called them "the ruby slippers of our time". (Referring to The Wizard of Oz (1939).) In 2009, Gregory lent the shirts to The Gene Autry National Center of the American West, a Los Angeles museum that seeks "to explore the experiences and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West." Their exhibition of the shirts is part of their larger attempt to examine representations of the Western LGBT experience in history and fiction.
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In March 2006, Randy Quaid filed a lawsuit against Focus Features, alleging that the company had misled him into thinking that the film was a low-budget art-house film, with no prospect of making money. He saw this as a ruse to get him to lower his salary. At the time of the lawsuit, the film had earned more than $160 million. Quaid dropped the lawsuit in May, seemingly after Focus agreed to pay him a bonus. Focus, however, denied that any such payment ever took place, and Focus spokeswoman Adriene Bowles was quoted as saying, "the circumstances of him dropping the suit are as mysterious as the circumstances under which he filed his claim."
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Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller pulled the film from his Jordan Commons entertainment complex in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, despite heavily advertising the film. He reneged on his obligations to show it two hours before the first scheduled showing when he learned of the homosexual content, claiming that the film represented a danger to family values. Focus Features threatened to sue, and announced that they would no longer do business with Miller.
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According to an interview that Heath Ledger gave to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Steven Rea, there was a sequence that was filmed for the movie in which Jack and Ennis help some hippies get their car out of a river. According to Ledger, the scene took three days to shoot, and was disliked almost immediately by everyone involved. The scene was written by James Schamus as an attempt to show Jack and Ennis in a heroic situation, but it does not appear in Annie Proulx's original short story, the published screenplay, or the final cut of the movie.
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Although Anne Hathaway learned how to barrel race, the insurance company insisted that a stunt double perform on film.
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt was considered for the role of Ennis, having starred in Latter Days (2003) and Mysterious Skin (2004).
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Regarding the off-screen romance between Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams (which resulted in a baby girl), Jake Gyllenhaal joked to Entertainment Weekly that "Heath and I made love, and they [Williams and Ledger] got a baby out of it."
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The first film to win Best Director at the Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, BAFTA Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Critics' Choice Awards.
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Ang Lee was interviewed for a November 2010 New York Times article about Writer and Producer James Schamus. Lee remembered that after watching one of the first cuts of Brokeback Mountain (2005), Schamus ran into Lee in the theater bathroom; Schamus told Lee that the movie was running too long, and said, "that was great, but it was three hankies and two bladders. My goal is four hankies and one bladder."
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Was selected for preservation in the National Film Registy, by the Library of Congress, in 2018 for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. As of 2020, this is the most recent film in the registry.
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Anne Hathaway mentioned in a 2015 Out Magazine retrospective of the film that she was originally sent the script with the role of Alma Beers in mind, but after she read the screenplay she decided that she wanted to audition for the part of Lurleen Newsome instead.
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According to an interview in Premiere Magazine, Mark Wahlberg stated that at one point, he and Joaquin Phoenix were considered for the two lead roles. Although Wahlberg considered it due to his brother-like relationship with Phoenix, the script was ultimately too sexually graphic for him. Phoenix, on the other hand, said that he was never approached for the film, but if he had been he would've taken the role in a second.
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The Guardian's November 2007 obituary for costume designer Marit Allen reported that she brought a book of Richard Avedon's 1950s and 60s photos of the American West with her to her first meeting about designing the clothes for this film, and she used that book to help decode what the obit called the men's "subtle dress codes". Interestingly, without having spoken to one another, several of the principal crew used the book as a reference. During production prep, the screenwriters had also suggested the book as a visual reference, and it was, in fact, used by the production design and make-up crews as well.
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In her book "The Sense and Sensibility (1995) Screenplay & Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen's Novel to Film", Emma Thompson writes that after a particularly difficult day filming a sequence that involved a flock of sheep, Ang Lee swore that he would never again use the animals on a movie set. This movie, however, is about two young men who meet while sheep herding.
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Joseph Fiennes loved the project so much that he met with three different directors, attached at various times, about starring in the film.
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By 2010, this film was on many critics' and publications' "Best of the Decade" lists, including Peter Travers, Entertainment Weekly, The London Times, The A.V. Club, Time Out New York, and The London Telegraph.
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During the filming of the Fourth of July scenes in Fort Macleod, the crew would get the extras pumped up by telling them to act like the Calgary Flames had just won the Stanley Cup.
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Focus Features was able to recoup its $14 million budget by selling the overseas rights to the film.
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The football game on television that causes some family friction during Jack's Thanksgiving dinner is actually a 1970s Canadian Football League game between the Montreal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos.
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The artwork of Vilhelm Hammershøi (Danish Painter, 1864-1916) served as visual inspiration for the whitewashed interior of Jack's parents house in Lightning Flat, according to Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
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Over ninety percent of the footage was shot within seventy feet of a road.
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Final editorial work of Geraldine Peroni, who died a few months before the movie's release.
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Brooklynn Proulx, the child actress who played Jenny at age 4, is not related to E. Annie Proulx, the author of the original short story on which this movie was based, even though they share a relatively uncommon last name.
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Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal shared the screen as a couple one more time in Love & Other Drugs (2010).
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As of 2020, features Jake Gyllenhaal's only Oscar nominated performance.
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The original short story by Annie Proulx was published in the October 13, 1997 issue of The New Yorker, without the italicized prologue which was included in the later version published in "Close Range", her collection of short stories. Diana Ossana, co-screenwriter and a producer on the film, read it, then asked her colleague Larry McMurtry to read the story. He refused, stating he doesn't read short fiction, because he can't write it. She persisted, however, and he ultimately agreed. McMurtry handled the marital dramas and the Western elements, while Ossana concentrated on the male relationship, McMurtry feeling that he was not up to the task of conveying that realistically. Some reports have it that Ang Lee barred screenwriter McMurtry from the set of the movie. A spokeswoman for Focus Features, which produced it, commented: "Larry McMurtry rarely goes on sets, because he has very severe allergies." McMurtry was also in the midst of writing a novel, when filming began and ended. No one barred him from the set. Ossana was on-set during the entire filming.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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A few years after Crash (2004) winning Best Picture, The Hollywood Reporter polled hundreds of Academy voters on what votes they would recast if given the chance; Brokeback Mountain (2005) received more votes than Crash (2004).
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Heath Ledger would go on to work with Maggie Gyllenhaal, the sister of co-star and friend Jake Gyllenhaal, in The Dark Knight (2008).
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Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal have stated that the sex scenes in the beginning were difficult to do. Ang Lee found the first scene difficult to film and has stated he has great respect for the two main actors for their "courage".
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Sienna Miller was scheduled to audition for the role of Lureen Twist, but was unable to attend her audition due to a "terrible cough".
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The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Heath Ledger and Anne Hathaway; and three Oscar nominees: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Randy Quaid.
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Ang Lee told interviewer Robert Ordona that if he had made the movie during the 1960s (the time period during which it is set) he would have cast Paul Newman as Ennis and Montgomery Clift as Jack. Back in the late 60s, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were asked to play a gay couple in a film. Both refused.
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A week into the start of the film's shoot, two crew members came out, inspired by the story they were helping to tell.
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Heath Ledger and Anne Hathaway went on to star in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. Ledger played the The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008), and Anne Hathaway played Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
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The only film that year to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress Oscars.
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After playing an LGBT character in this film, Heath Ledger went on to play the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008). The same thing later happened to Jared Leto, who played an LGBT character in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and then later played the Joker in Suicide Squad (2016).
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In the first scene of Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) bull riding, the stunt man is clearly wearing a bull riding safety vest under his shirt. These vests were not worn by bull riders for many years.
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At least 24 cigarettes are smoked throughout the movie.
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In the Middle East, distribution of the film became a political issue. Lebanon was the only Arab country to show the film, and it released a censored format. The film was also released in Turkey. The film was officially banned from screenings in the United Arab Emirates; however, the DVD of the film was permitted to be rented from stores such as Blockbuster Video.
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Heath Ledger adamantly shut down any homophobic jokes at the Academy Awards as he felt it demeaned a really moving love story.
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As of 2020, five members of the cast have appeared in films as iconic comic book characters: Heath Ledger as 'The Joker' in The Dark Knight (2008), Jake Gyllenhaal as 'Quentin Beck/Mysterio' in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019), Kate Mara as 'Sue Storm' in Fantastic Four (2015), David Harbour as 'Hellboy' in Hellboy (2019) and 'Red Guardian" in Black Widow (2020), and Anne Hathaway as 'Selina Kyle/Catwoman' in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Michelle Williams and Linda Cardellini have also appeared in comic book films as love interests to iconic comic book characters in Venom (2018) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), respectively.
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Gus Van Sant attempted to adapt Proulx's story as a film, with Matt Damon as Ennis and Joaquin Phoenix as Jack.
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Annie Proulx wrote an essay expressing her extreme disappointment in the film not winning the Best Picture Award. She intimated that Scientologists had something to do with it and that Philip Seymour Hoffman's acting in the film Capote (2005) required less skill than that required of the actors in Brokeback Mountain.
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Jake Gyllenhaal (Jack Twist) and David Harbour (Randall Malone) work together again in "End of Watch" (2012).
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DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(Ang Lee): [outdoor settings]: Ennis and Jack escorting the sheep, and camping in a mountain terrain.
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In the scene where Ennis dives into an alley to be sick, Heath Ledger did an unprompted punch of the wall that very nearly broke his hand.
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The film was banned in China. Nevertheless the Chinese media openly celebrated Ang Lee's Oscar win.
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Diana Ossana has admitted that she's unable to watch the film since Heath Ledger's premature passing.
Annie Proulx's original short story only essentially takes up 50 pages of Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana's screenplay.
Heath Ledger accepted the role of Ennis on his first read of the script.
Annie Proulx admitted that she was "knocked for a loop" when she saw the film for the first time.
The word "brokeback" has now entered Chinese slang as a term for homosexuality.
Matt Damon was approached about playing Ennis but demurred, having already played a gay character in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) and also after having done a Western (All the Pretty Horses (2000)).
Heath Ledger essentially landed front runner status for the part of Ennis after the writer-producer team of Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry saw his performance in Monster's Ball (2001).
Focus Features' biggest grossing film.
Was never shown theatrically in China because it was deemed to be of such a niche interest, it didn't warrant a release. Nevertheless it became one of the biggest bootleg titles to flood the Chinese home video market. It was, however, shown in Ang Lee's native Taiwan, mainly off the back of Lee being the first ever Chinese director to win an Academy Award.
During her audition, Anne Hathaway lied that she was good around horses. When she was told she had got the part, Hathaway hastily embarked on two months of horse riding lessons.
Randy Quaid's younger brother Dennis Quaid stars in The Day After Tomorrow (2004) along with Jake Gyllenhaal.
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Larry McMurtry also wrote the novels Terms of Endearment and Lonesome Dove. Terms of Endearment was turned into a film that featured Jack Nicholson. Heath Ledger later succeeded Nicholson as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Linda Cardellini later appeared in Comanche Moon, a prequel to Lonesome Dove, in which her character was previously played by Anjelica Huston, who had had a relationship with Nicholson for several years.
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Anne Hathaway appeared nude in two films in a row. First in Havoc (2005), which was her first ever nude scene, and then this one. She said in an interview that "It is intensely mortifying taking your clothes off in front of other people, but it is also intensely mortifying doing a lot of things in front of people and I've learned how to deal with that."
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When Lureen is speaking to Ennis on the phone after Jack's death, she says that she was never sure if Brokeback Mountain was a real location: "knowing Jack, it was probably some pretend place, where bluebirds sing and there's a whiskey spring...." The bluebirds and whiskey parts of this line are paraphrases from the American folk song "Big Rock Candy Mountain," which describes a mystical paradise from the point of view of a homeless, itinerant hobo.
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When Ennis finds Jack's and his shirts hanging together in Jack's childhood closet, Jack has arranged them so that Jack's blue shirt is visible first and Ennis's light plaid shirt is tucked inside of it. In the final scene in the film, after Ennis has taken both shirts home to hang them in his own closet, they are reversed, so that Jack's shirt is inside Ennis'. According to Diana Ossana, switching the order of the shirts was Heath Ledger's idea.
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In a November 2010 interview on the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air," Anne Hathaway told interviewer Terry Gross that she actually has no idea whether or not her character, Lureen, tells the truth in the phone conversation in which Lureen tells Ennis how Jack died. Hathaway said that she shot two takes of the scene: one in which Lureen "knew what was going on with Jake's character Jack, and that he'd been cheating on me with men, and that I knew about the gay bashing," and one in which Lureen "had no idea... you know, it was a terrible accident with a car tire." Hathaway told Gross that instead of using all of either take, there were shots from both takes edited into the final movie, so she doesn't know what Ang Lee's or the editors' intentions for her character, or for the truth about Jack's death really were. She also said that she has never asked Ang Lee what he thinks the truth is, because "Ang knows the truth in his head, and it's not important to me. I actually think I get to be a part of the film as an audience member, because I don't know, because I think the ambiguity is what is the strength of that scene, and what's heartbreaking about it."
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Ang Lee recounted in several interviews that when Michelle Williams needed to film the scene in which her character is devastated to discover that her husband is involved with another man, she urged Heath Ledger (her off-screen, as well as on-screen, love interest) and Jake Gyllenhaal to intensify their kissing.
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Heath Ledger was only four years older than Kate Mara, who played his daughter Alma, Jr. as an adult. (Since the film spans a twenty year period, for most of the movie, Alma Jr. was played by younger baby and child actresses. Mara only played her as an older teen, when Ledger's character is supposed to be in his 40s).
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During a group appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the four principal actors expressed surprise that some moviegoers had been unsure whether Jack Twist died in the film.
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