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Directed by Ang Lee, the 2005 romantic drama depicted the complex relationship between two cowboys, Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal).
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the Hollywood actor was asked if he felt there would be “a different reaction” to two straight actors being cast in the roles originally played by Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger.
“Aaahh. I don’t know. Maybe?” Gyllenhaal responded. “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.”
He continued: “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.”
Gyllenhall said he was “very proud” to be given the opportunity, and recalled the reaction from the gay community being mostly one “of open-heartedness and gratitude”.
The 40-year-old is currently receiving praise for his performance in Netflix’s The Guilty, a remake of the Danish crime-thriller of the same name.