It’s been well over a decade since he met the late Heath Ledger, but the circumstances that lead to their friendship are still fresh in Jake Gyllenhaal’s mind.
In a cover story for GQ Australia, the Stronger star recalls how their unlikely bond was actually forged through a particularly grueling casting process for a well-known film. Spoiler: neither of them got the part.
“I was auditioning for Moulin Rouge!—Baz Luhrmann had chosen three actors. It was Ewan [McGregor], it was Heath, and me,” Gyllenhaal, 37, remembered. “And we auditioned with many different actresses, it was a long process. But I never met Heath, I only heard about him. We would be shuffled in and out of rooms. They would literally put me in a room and lock the door and Heath would come in and then Heath would be shuffled through the door. I never saw him.”
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Ultimately McGregor was cast, and Gyllenhaal and Ledger became friends long before Brokeback Mountain based on their “mutual frustration” alone.
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“When Brokeback Mountain came out and it got all the attention it did, I remember, a few months later, Heath called me and he was like, ‘Hey mate, I got some news for you.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Baz just offered me his next movie. I just wanted you to know, I f*cking turned it down!’” Gyllenhaal recounted with a laugh.
“So that was how much Heath loved me, you know,” he said. “That was how I met him.”
Cue the tears!