It wasn't always going to be Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal starring opposite one another in the Ang Lee-directed queer classic Brokeback Mountain. Screenwriter Diana Ossana shared some of the other actors that had their names come and go from the project during the almost decade-long process of getting the film made.
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"Nobody would commit," Ossana said during a recent screening of Brokeback Mountain alongside Philadelphia at Santa Monica's Aero Theatre, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Among the "prominent young actors" that showed interest in the film, which became known as the "gay cowboy" movie around town, Ossana mentioned Matt Damon and Joaquin Phoenix, even noting that Mark Wahlberg was considered once upon a time.
Ossana admitted that she and co-writer Larry McMurtry had longed for Heath Ledger to fill the role of Ennis but had to wait for "another actor" to leave the project before she could push his team. It was Ledger's then-girlfriend Naomi Watts who helped nudge him toward the project. "Heath read it on the way home to Australia... and he said Naomi read it and she was jumping up and down on the bed telling him you've got to do this role for all kinds of reasons - for your career and for the world," she said. And we all know how the rest went. Read the full THR story, here.