July 20, 2018 at 9:26 am PST | by Mariah Cooper
‘Brokeback Mountain’ almost starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (Screenshot via YouTube)

Director Gus Van Sant dropped the names of actors who rejected the lead roles in “Brokeback Mountain,” including Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, in an interview with IndieWire.  

Before Ang Lee came on board as the director of the 2005 gay love story, Van Sant was attached to the project. He admitted to IndieWire that finding big name actors for the film was a struggle.

“Nobody wanted to do it,” Van Sant said. “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.”

“What I could have done, and what I probably should have done, was cast more unknowns, not worried about who were the lead actors,” he went on. “I was not ready. I’m not sure why. There was just sort of a hiccup on my part. There was something off with myself, I guess, whatever was going on.”

Diana Ossana, who served as producer and screenwriter for”Brokeback Mountain,” confirmed Van Sant’s claims in an email to IndieWire.

“Yes, all those young gentlemen (at the time) turned down the project, for various reasons,” she wrote.

The roles of Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar would eventually go to Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, respectively. Lee would go on to win Best Director at the 2006 Academy Awards. Ossana and co-writer Larry McMurtry also took home Best Adapted Screenplay.

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