Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt once turned down USD 178 million movie which went to Jake Gyllenhaal; Here's why

Gus Van Sant once had to walk away from the iconic Brokeback Mountain. The director revealed the reason behind why he decided to let the film go after agreeing to work on it.

Updated on Sep 08, 2023   |  10:53 PM IST  |  207.5K
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio (IMDB)
Key Highlight
  • Gus Van Sant revealed he had reached out to Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt for Brokeback Mountain
  • Gus Van Sant recalled why he had to step back from the project

Gus Van Sant opened up about why he had to turn down the groundbreaking film, Brokeback Mountain, after almost accepting the offer. The director is famous for his commercial success with movies like Good Will Hunting, and his indie films like My Own Private Idaho. In a recent interview, the director confessed that the Ang Lee directorial turned out to be absolutely perfect, though he himself had a different narrative style of the story when he was onboard the project. 

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Brokeback Mountain (IMDB)

Gus Van Sant reveals no A-list star wanted the act in Brokeback Mountain

It has been widely known that both Gus Van Sant and Pedro Almodóvar were initially approached to helm the groundbreaking project that was to become the Brokeback Mountain. In a recent interview with IndieWire, the veteran director shared why his creative vision ultimately didn't align with the film's needs and revealed which A-listers declined the roles of the main characters in the movie. 

The Good Will Hunting director revealed that "no one wanted" to act in the film. When the director was working on Brokeback, he wanted a "strong cast, like a famous cast," but unfortunately that just wasn't a scenario that was working out for him. Big shots like Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt also turned down Brokeback which later turned to be a USD 178 million movie. He explained, "I felt like we needed a really strong cast, like a famous cast. That wasn’t working out. I asked the usual suspects: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ryan Phillippe. They all said no."


As per Van Sant, none of the listed actors agreed to be part of the project. He continued, "Yes, all those young gentlemen (at the time) turned down the project, for various reasons."

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Brokeback Mountain (IMDB)

ALSO READ: How Matt Damon told his wife in couples therapy he'd go on acting break unless Christopher Nolan called

Gus Van Sant had a different vision for Brokeback Mountain

The 71-year-old recalled the original story that was featured in The New Yorker was "beautiful and simple," but the writers and producers that worked on the screenplay for the movie turned it into something more grandeur. He recalled, "Larry had turned it into something that resembled ‘The Last Picture Show, which was really good if you were thinking along certain lines." Van Sant confessed he wanted something resembling the movies, Gerry, Elephant, and The Last Days.

He explained, "I kind of wanted to go back to the simplest view of the short story, which I couldn’t do. I didn’t really want to go and talk Larry and Diana out of what they had created, because it was great."

Meanwhile, ultimately the lead roles went to the very talented actors Heath Ledger, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who each ended up getting an Oscar nomination for their portrayal, shattering the long-held belief that playing LGBTQ characters will hurt an actor's career.

ALSO READ: Oppenheimer star Matt Damon reveals kissing Scarlett Johansson was 'hell'; Here's Why



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