Jake Gyllenhaal said that his role in Brokeback Mountain helped “break” the “stigma” of straight actors playing LGBTQ+ characters.
The actor received an Oscar nomination in 2006 for his portrayal of Jack Twist in the movie.
Brokeback Mountain has been credited as being a driving force for queer cinema becoming more mainstream, despite both Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger identifying as straight men.
Discussing his breakout roles in an interview with The Sunday Times, Gyllenhaal was asked if he thinks the two actors playing LGBTQ+ characters would be met with a different reaction today.
“Aaahh,” he says after pausing to think and sighing. “I don’t know. Maybe? 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.”
Gyllenhaal went on to note that things have changed since the movie’s release in 2005, as now roles “shouldn’t be limited to a small group of people.”
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.”
Despite this, the 40-year-old said he “was very proud” to play an LGBTQ+ character in Brokeback Mountain.
“But at the same time, I was very proud to be in that space, and to be given that opportunity,” he explained. “And the reaction from the majority of the gay community when the movie came out, I got this sort of — we both did, everyone in the movie — we got this overwhelming sense of open-heartedness and gratitude.”
When it comes to a fear of being cancelled, he told The Sunday Times that “nuance is not as appreciated” nowadays.
He said: “I don’t talk to a lot of other actors. I think we’re living in a time where nuance is not as appreciated, and it probably becomes inflamed by the fact that we’re not in person, not face to face, where so much more is understood.
“But I definitely stand behind all the movements that have happened, you know, I think we are in a massive transition.”