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Jake Gyllenhaal Looks Back at the Stigma of Playing Gay in 'Brokeback'

Jake Gyllenhaal Looks Back at the Stigma of Playing Gay in 'Brokeback'

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal

His comments come as Hollywood continues to discuss whether it's appropriate for non-LGBTQ+ people to play LGBTQ+ characters. 


Jake Gyllenhaal spoke in a recent interview about breaking down the stigma around playing an LGBTQ+ character in Brokeback Mountain.

Talking to The Sunday Times, Gyllenhaal said that people may have a different reaction to two straight men playing gay men today than when the film came out in 2005, reported Insider.

"I don't know. Maybe?" Gyllenhaal said. "Part of the medicine of storytelling is that we were two straight guys playing these parts. 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."

He added: "But then again, I think that has led the way towards people saying, you know, people of all different experiences should be playing more roles, that it shouldn't be limited to a small group of people. And I believe that."

Brokeback Mountain received eight Oscar nominations and won three of those, including a best director win for Ang Lee. It's also hailed as one of the first openly queer films to reach the mainstream.

In 2009, Gyllenhaal said his co-star the late Heath Ledger wouldn't let people mock Brokeback Mountain.

"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," Gyllenhaal said in an interview with Today. "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.'"

Gyllenhaal's recent comments come as a discussion continues to take place in Hollywood over the past few years on whether LGBTQ+ characters should be played by non-LGBTQ+ actors.

A recent example is Ewan McGregor's Emmy Award-winning performance as Roy Halston in Ryan Murphy's Halston on Netflix.

McGregor told The Hollywood Reporter, "If it had been a story about Halston's sexuality more, then maybe it's right that gay actors should play that role. But in this case -- and I don't want to sound like I'm worming out of this, because it's something I did think a lot about -- I suppose ultimately I felt like it was just one part of who he was."

Last week, actor and comedian Billy Eichner revealed that his upcoming project with Universal Studios -- the first major studio film to be led and co-written by an out gay man -- would feature an all LGBTQ+ main cast. Eichner said some would even play the non-LGBTQ+ characters in the film.

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