Although Ang Lee directed the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, Gus Van Sant was among the directors initially approached for it, San Francisco Gate reports. Van Sant now recalls actors like Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio turning down the leading roles.
Van Sant told IndieWire, “Nobody wanted to do it. I was working on it, and 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." Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal ended up starring in the film that followed the secretive love affair of two cowboys. It became one of the most successful LGBT films of all time, winning three Oscars out of seven nominations and grossing $178 million worldwide.