Director Gus Van Sant has revealed that he was keen to make Brokeback Mountain with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio but they did not want to be a part of the project. In an interview with IndieWire, Van Sant said before Ang Lee, he was attached to the film as a director and had approached all the “usual suspects” in Hollywood to play the lead roles but they all declined.
“Nobody wanted to do it. 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 said.
The film, which was ultimately directed by Lee, featured Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as the gay romantic leads. It received widespread acclaim upon its release and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three – best director, best adapted screenplay, and best original score.
Diana Ossana, who wrote the film’s screenplay with Larry McMurtry and also produced it, confirmed that the movie was offered to “all those young gentlemen” but they “turned down the project, for various reasons”.
Looking back, Van Sant said he should have cast “unknown” faces in the film.
“What I could have done, and what I probably should have done, was cast more unknowns, not worried about who were the lead actors. 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,” he said.
DiCaprio and Pitt, meanwhile, will appear together for the first time in director Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The film is based on the murder of actor Sharon Tate and three others at the hands of the Manson family cult