Ang Lee's critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain (2005) was set to be a different film altogether, according to Director Gus Van Sant.
Picture a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt falling into a forbidden love as they herd sheep through the Wyoming mountains.
Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain (2005), which famously starred Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Academy Award-nominated performances, could have been a different film altogether, Milk director Gus Van Sant recently revealed to Indiewire.
The Oscar-nominated director, best known for Good Will Hunting (1997) and My Own Private Idaho (1991), said he was pitched the opportunity to direct the gay romance before Lee signed on.
“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,” Van Sant recalled. “Nobody wanted to do it.”
“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 added.
Ironically enough, DiCaprio and Pitt will finally appear together onscreen in Quentin Tarantino’s controversial movie about the Manson murders, titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The director also revealed that he came close to directing another gay classic, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name (2017), which went on to win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
“I don’t think it would have panned out the way it did if I had directed it. I think it was great,” he said.
Van Sant’s latest movie, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, is now playing in select theaters.