Heath Ledger was one of the good ones.
Earlier this week, fans took to the internet to celebrate the late, Oscar-winning actor (on what would have been his 43rd birthday) and his illustrious screen career. And of course, one of the roles he was most known for was during his time as a movie star was none other than Ang Lee's iconic 2005 romantic, western drama Brokeback Mountain.
In an Oscar-nominated performance, Ledger co-starred alongside Jake Gyllenhaal as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist respectively, two queer cowboys who fall in love while working together in the Wyoming countryside despite already having families of their own and during a time where homosexuality was an extreme taboo.
While 2005 wasn't that long ago, the release of Brokeback Mountain was still groundbreaking for audiences at the time and is often credited with helping advance queer storytelling in the mainstream film world. But, since homophobia is such a tireless and ugly beast, the film was still subject to a lot of unjust criticism from homophobes and conservatives, simply for showcasing love between two men.
But Ledger was more than fine with letting everyone know where he stood when it comes to the film's depictions of gay love.
In a viral clip that has resurfaced online recently, Ledger is seen taking questions from journalists during a press conference on Brokeback Mountain's press tour around the time of the film's release. One reporter asks the actor, "how do you respond to people who suggest that this is disgusting?"
And Ledger's response was everything we could have hoped for.
"I think it's an incredible shame that people go out of their way to voice their disgust or negative opinions against the ways in which two people choose to love each other," the Aussie actor replied. "At least voice your opinions about how two people show hate and violence and anger towards each other. Isn't that more important? I think so."
Elsewhere in his response, when talking about how he feels audiences will react to Brokeback, he continued:
"I also feel like it will surprise people. It's obviously about two men in love and it's obviously gay-themed and it's very easily labeled, but unfortunately, people are quick in life to label something that they're uncomfortable with. The pure fact of it is that it transcends a label. It's human. It's a story of two human beings, two souls who are in love. Get over the fact it's two men. That's the point. The movie is not the story of an epidemic or a virus or something that can be cured in a hospital. We're showing that love between two men is just as infectious and emotional and strong and pure as it is with heterosexual love."
"And if you can't understand that, just don't go see the movie," Ledger concluded.
Brokeback Mountain is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.