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Jake Gyllenhaal Says There Was A Stigma About His Role In Brokeback Mountain


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Jake Gyllenhaal believes there was a stigma to his groundbreaking role as Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain. Gyllenhaal has had a long successful career in film, best known for his breakout starring roles in films like October Sky and Donnie Darko before starring in Zodiac, Prisoners, Nightcrawler, and his most recent movie, The Guilty. He has also been very active in the Broadway community with the Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George and was nominated for a Tony Award for the play Sea Wall/A Life.

Gyllenhaal received his first Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain. In a story about two cowboys in the 1960s who have a love affair that spans two decades and takes an emotional toll on them, he stars opposite Heath Ledger. The 2005 film, directed by Ang Lee, broke storytelling barriers on the complex love story between two men while generating multiple controversies. Its Oscar loss for Best Picture is considered one of the most egregious injustices in awards history. It is now considered one of the greatest romantic films and a significant turning point for the evolution of film.

RELATED: Ang Lee Movies, Ranked Worst To Best

Per Insider, Gyllenhaal has spoken in an interview with The Sunday Times about the possibility that perhaps viewers may have a different feeling now about him playing a gay character, given that Gyllenhaal is straight. Gyllenhaal addresses the stigma many had back when he played the role and what he believes in regards to actors playing certain types of roles. Read what Gyllenhaal said below:

"I don't know. Maybe? Part of the medicine of storytelling is that we were two straight guys playing these parts. There was a stigma about playing a part like that, you know, why would you do that? And I think it was very important to both of us to break that stigma. But then again, I think that has led the way towards people saying, you know, people of all different experiences should be playing more roles, that it shouldn't be limited to a small group of people. And I believe that."

Gyllenhaal understands and supports the idea that specific roles that call for diverse casting should be played by appropriately diverse actors and not just straight, white men. In 2005, very few films and shows put LGBTQ+ characters at the center of the story rather than being portrayed as side characters. Plus, the push for diversity is a recent endeavor for Hollywood, following powerful social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #OscarsSoWhite. Nowadays, the industry strives to become more inclusive, such as casting LGBTQ+ characters with LGBTQ+ performers who fit the part better due to personal experience.

While the subject is still a continuing and evolving conversation, it does not take away the impact of Brokeback Mountain, which despite having straight actors and a straight director behind it, influenced many LGBTQ+ movies to come. The film continues to affect viewers and generate emotional discussions. Thankfully, as Hollywood progresses, other LGBTQ+ stories can be told by a more diverse group of LGBTQ+ creators and stars.

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