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Heath Ledger hit back at haters of 'Brokeback Mountain's gay love: 'It's two souls in love'

In an old clip, Ledger said it was easy to label the movie 'gay love' but stated that it was just about love between two people.

Heath Ledger hit back at haters of 'Brokeback Mountain's gay love: 'It's two souls in love'
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger speak onstage during the 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2006, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

An old clip of actor Heath Ledger calling out homophobic comments in an interview has resurfaced and is going viral, as fans celebrated the late actor's birthday earlier this week. One of Heath Ledger's best roles was in Ang Lee's iconic 2005 romantic western drama "Brokeback Mountain." The film centers around two queer cowboys falling in love, with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal playing the gay cowboys. The movie is set in a time when homosexuality was extremely taboo. The film came out in 2005 when queer stories in mainstream films were rare and "Brokeback Mountain" broke down a lot of barriers for queer storytelling.

Brokeback Mountain/Focus Features

The film had rustled a lot of homophobic feathers in its day and the actors were often asked about it when they did press for the film. While many actors would have stayed away from such questions, the Australian actor didn't shy away from giving his take and it's one of the many reasons why fans still love him. During the press conference, a reporter asked him, "How do you respond to people who suggest that this is disgusting?"


Ledger didn't hold back when he responded to the question. "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," said the actor, reported Out. "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."

BERLIN - FEBRUARY 15: Actor Heath Ledger attends the press conference for "Candy" as part of the 56th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) on February 15, 2006 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

When asked what audiences can expect in the movie and what the potential reaction to it would be, Ledger said, "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." He then explained that there is no distinction between a heterosexual or homosexual relationship and it's just about people connecting and living through the same emotions as any relationship. "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," said Ledger. "And if you can't understand that, just don't go see the movie."


The movie featured stellar performances from Ledger and Gyllenhaal that saw both of them be nominated for Academy Awards. The film notched up three Oscars at the 2006 ceremony. Ang Lee won the best director Oscar for the movie. At the time, there was a lot of stigma about straight actors playing gay roles. “Part of the medicine of storytelling is that we were two straight guys playing these parts,” said Gyllenhaal, reported Indiewire. “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.” 


Gyllenhaal also said that Heath Ledger refused to let the Oscars make a joke about gay love in the wake of the film's impact and success. “I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” Gyllenhaal told Another Man magazine. “And Heath refused. I was sort of at the time, ‘Oh, okay… whatever.’ I’m always like, ‘It’s all in good fun.’ And Heath said, ‘It’s not a joke to me – I don’t want to make any jokes about it.’” Gyllenhaal added that his co-star wouldn't allow anyone to trivialize the movie or mock gay love even for a laugh. “I see people who have joked with me or criticized me about lines I say in that movie — and that’s the thing I loved about Heath,” said Gyllenhaal. “He would never joke. Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, ‘No. This is about love’. Like, that’s it, man. Like, no.’”

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Family of late actor Heath Ledger, father Kim Ledger (C), mother Sally (L), and sister Kate (R), pose in the press room after accepting the award for Best Supporting Actor for "The Dark Night" at the 81st Annual Academy Awards held at Kodak Theatre on February 22, 2009, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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