Jake Gyllenhaal once made a few remarks about how nerve-racking it could occasionally be acting in Brokeback Mountain. But it was an attitude that fellow actor Ian McKellen didn’t take lightly.
Ian McKellen didn’t agree with Jake Gyllenhaal’s choice of words in regards to doing ‘Brokeback Mountain’
Gyllenhaal has often been open about the impact Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain had on his career. Before taking the role, there was some push-back about the actor doing the film. But Gyllenhaal had no real concerns about the feature since he’d read the story the film was based on. Still, he it wouldn’t be easy.
“I knew it would be a difficult film to make, and something that would put people off, but I didn’t know how difficult it would be to get made. My closest family members, my godfathers, were a gay couple, so it was something I just inherently had no prejudice about,” Gyllenhaal said in an interview with Out.
During his press rounds for the movie, however, Gyllenhaal made a few comments about filming that X-Men star McKellen was sensitive towards.
“I got very upset when one of the actors said it was the most terrifying job he’s ever had because it involved him kissing another man,” McKellen once said according to Irish Examiner. “Imagine how rude that is. Suppose I said the most appalling thing I ever [had] to do was kiss Helen Mirren!”
Jake Gyllenhaal considered himself a changed actor after doing ‘Brokeback Mountain’
To this day, Gyllenhaal asserted that making the feature was one of his career highlights.
“I don’t think we ever had any idea it would have the impact that it had. To make a movie that even just works is a miracle. When it resonates even beyond that, it’s impossible. And it has nothing to do with you in the end,” Gyllenhaal once told GQ.
But apart from the movie’s impact, Gyllenhaal found working with the film’s director Ang Lee to be an especially career-changing experience. Gyllenhaal felt Lee applied some unique methods to get the performance that he wanted out of him and Ledger. At times, the Nightcrawler star admitted this bothered him.
“He did manipulate us in ways, and I think that really angered us at times. Then at the same time I think we feel really proud of the end result. There’s an odd benevolence to him and his process, in the same way that his movies are benevolent. It’s empowering, because you feel like, ‘Okay, I’ve given all I can.’ There are scenes [in the final cut] where I’m like, ‘Oh wow, I gave so much more, but he pulled it back,’” he once told About Film.
These experiences made him learn what it was like working with a director like Lee, broadening his range.
Jake Gyllenhaal was going through a rough time while making ‘Brokeback Mountain’
Brokeback Mountain became both a critical and commercial success. But when they initially saw the film, Gyllenhaal admitted that he and Ledger weren’t sure what to make of it.
“Heath and I— When I first saw the movie, I saw him out somewhere, and I was like, ‘Did you see the movie?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ I said, ‘What did you think?’ He’s like, ‘I’ve no f***ing idea!’ I was like, ‘Me too.’”
Gyllenhaal shared that his own life experiences affected his initial viewing of the film. At times, Gyllenhaal found art imitating life in certain aspects of Brokeback and vice versa.
“Personally it was kind of a rough time in my life, and it mimicked a lot of things in the movie that were going on. I was just exhausted emotionally from it. It was hard,” he said.
According to Gyllenhaal, it didn’t help that Lee was known for giving less than favorable feedback to his actors. He was expecting Lee to give his familiar critiques to Gyllenhaal’s own performance. When Lee offered the actor a compliment, however, this also made the star panic.
“I was so waiting for that, and actors have given incredible performances in his movies. So I was waiting for this apathy, and the first day of work he walked out to me and was like, ‘Great job.’ And I was like, ‘Noooo, that’s not good!’ So he had different approaches to how he abused us,” he said.