Brokeback Mountain came at a time when it was still socially acceptable to say "that's gay" when you were saying something was stupid, so you can imagine that when two straight Hollywood actors had graphic gay sex onscreen , there were an endless number of jokes about the film that followed. In an interview with Sunday Today, Jake Gyllenhaal says that his co-star Heath Ledger, who died in 2008, hated those jokes.
Speaking about the film that "opened tons of doors" and "defined" his career, Gyllenhall said that he's seen "people who have joked with me or criticized me about lines I say in that movie," probably referring to "I wish I knew how to quit you," which has become the film's defining line -- and meme.
Gyllenhaal said the thing he loved about Ledger was that "he would never joke."
"Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, 'No. This is about love. Like, that's it, man. Like, no.' This is a level of focus and attention that hits a certain nerve" Gyllenhaal said. But the actor also realizes that the film was "bigger" than the actors who starred in it. "It has become not ours anymore. It's the world's."
Memes aside, Brokeback Mountain has been criticized for casting straight actors in gay roles, something Gyllenhaal recently addressed in an interview with GQ.
"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, [director] Ang [Lee] could see," he said. "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."
"I don't think we ever had any idea it would have the impact that it had. To make a movie that even just works is a miracle. When it resonates even beyond that, it's impossible. And it has nothing to do with you in the end," he said. "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."