Heath Ledger is probably best remembered as The Joker in The Dark Knight and as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. It’s 10 years since the latter movie debuted, and as part of their marriage equality special, Variety caught up with director Ang Lee and producer/writer James Schamus, to talk about the movie.
Perhaps the most interesting info to come from the chat, is what inspired Ledger’s performance as the quiet, completely closeted Ennis. Ang Lee says, “Heath came in and wanted to do it right away. He told me that he learned from one of his uncles, who is also a very macho, homophobic gay, much like Ennis, and also a rancher.”
Anne Hathaway meanwhile apparently auditioned while in costume for The Princess Diaries 2 – a far cry from the Midwest character she ultimately ended up playing in Brokeback.
Lee also talked about the difficulty he had shooting the sex scenes, saying, “I was pretty shy shooting sex scenes, so I designed a very complicated one-shot deal, with 13 points of focus. I made it technical so that no one would think about anything else except hitting their marks. Once we got past the first take, nobody was shy anymore. We tried to make it as real and compelling as possible, and they were very professional. Getting into the first take was hard, and it was the 13th take that I ended up using, which was the last take.”
It’s well worth reading the whole chat, which includes the fact Lee never thought it would be a big success. He comments, “I also thought it would be an arthouse film with a very small audience. I was nervous about the subject matter hitting the shopping mall, and I was surprised at its success. I think it has something to do with the fact that it’s a poignant love story.”