'Brokeback Mountain’ stars reflect on the late Heath Ledger

A decade has passed since Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Brokeback Mountain made history as the first gay film to successfully cross over to mainstream media. Aside from the dozens of award nominations, including best acting nods for Heath, Jake and leading lady Michelle Williams, the movie changed the face of cinema and gave way to lifelong friendships amongst its cast. Now, in honour of its 10th anniversary, its stars are paying tribute to the film and their late friend and co-star, Heath Ledger, who passed away in 2008 following an accidental overdose.

The cast became fast friends on the set of their hit movie in 2004. Photo: © Getty Images

“In a world driven by commerce, particularly in the movie business, there’s no time spent together – relationships are fleeting,” Jake told Out magazine. “But in the old-school way, people really used to spend their time together. They became a family, and that’s what [director] Ang created on the movie.” The cast formed an unbreakable bond working on the Oscar-winning picture and look back on the experience with fond memories. “It was an intimate project in that way. We’d wake up and make breakfast for each other, and hang out. Heath and Michelle fell in love. It was a really special, special time,” recalls Jake.

He also adds that he is still saddened by the death of his friend and will always miss "exchanging ideas creatively with Heath … that was one of the most beautiful things to come out of [making the film].”

Read more: Reasons why we’ll always miss Heath Ledger

Heath and Michelle’s love story was just as powerful as the one shared on-screen by the film’s main characters, Ennis and Jack. Director Ang Lee remembers the moment when their friendship turned romantic, telling Out, “‘I remember him looking at her, and she looking up at him with these wide eyes. She was almost startled by the attention he was giving her, but you could see it every day from thereon. For him it was truly love at first sight. He was so taken with her.”

Heath and Michelle fell in love while filming Brokeback Mountain and in 2005 became parents to daughter Matilda. Photo © Getty Images

Anne Hathaway, who played Jake’s on-screen wife Lureen, reveals that she was shocked by how young the cast was. “The four of us were taken out to this restaurant in Calgary and I remember sitting there and looking at beautiful Heath, and Jake, and Michelle, and it hit me that we were all under 25,” she revealed to Out. “At the time we were very far away from this burgeoning humanist moment that we’re having now with gay rights. I was just so blown away that these four 25-year-old kids could bring this to life.”

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