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‘Brokeback Mountain’ Screenwriter Names Actors Who Almost Starred In The Film

Screenwriter Diana Ossana reveals the names of the actors who almost starred in Brokeback Mountain
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal starring opposite one another in the classic gay film, Brokeback Mountain…But, there were several other names attached to the project during the almost decade-long process of getting the film made.
During the break of a double feature at Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre featuring screenings of Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, respective screenwriters Ron Nyswaner and Diana Ossana sat down for a Q&A that included a gossip session about casting.
Among the “prominent young actors” that showed interest in the film, Ossana mentioned Matt Damon and Joaquin Phoenix, even noting that Mark Wahlberg was considered once upon a time.
Ossana admitted that she and co-writer Larry McMurtry had longed for Heath Ledger to fill the role of Ennis but had to wait for “another actor” to leave the project before she could push his team. It was Ledger’s then-girlfriend Naomi Watts who helped nudge him toward the project. “Heath read it on the way home to Australia… and he said Naomi read it and she was jumping up and down on the bed telling him you’ve got to do this role for all kinds of reasons – for your career and for the world,” she said.
Ossana teased, “Maybe I’ll write a book about it someday, about who committed and backed out.”
The Oscar-winning scribe also discussed the difficult eight-year process of getting the “gay cowboy” movie (as it became known around town) into production.
“Nobody would commit,” Ossana said to the audience. “We sent it to Edward Norton [to direct] and Joel Schumacher and dozens of people and they all came back saying they loved it but no one would commit. They didn’t give us any real excuse why they wouldn’t. I guess they saw it as too difficult.”



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