Taking Stock of the "Brokeback" Boys
By Stacy Jenel Smith
With their risky film leading the awards season parade, "Brokeback Mountain" stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal could not be hotter properties in Hollywood - proving that the stories of actors who hurt their careers by taking on gay roles are a thing of the past. Each has had his quirky and dramatic moments and made his memorable and unexpected remarks. It's time to pause and take stock of these two as they ascend to the top rung of the Filmland ladder.
Pix of Jake Gyllenhaal
Pix of Heath Ledger
|Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal|
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Birthdate: December 19, 1980
| ||Heathcliff Andrew Ledger|
Birthplace: Perth, Australia
Birthdate: April 4, 1979
|On "Brokeback" bravery: "Every journalist says, 'Oh, you take such a risk, because of this and that'. My first response is, 'Why would I do anything in a career that wasn't risky or challenging?'"|| ||On "Brokeback" bravery: "I think being brave is what the firefighters are when they put out a fire. We're just telling a love story."|
| On the Love Scenes: "The best metaphor I can give is that it felt like we were both like, 'Are you ready? Yeah. Let's go,' and we dove off the boat into the deep end…" "Heath almost broke my nose in a scene. He grabs me and he slams me up against the wall and kisses me. And then I grab him and I slam him up against the wall and I kiss him…I got the s--- beat out of me."|| ||On the Love Scenes: "I didn't really want to kiss Jake. Not only that, but it was hard looking him in the eyes and telling him I loved him. To show love in the eyes for another man is something I've never done. Everything was new about it - so quite obviously there was fear about it." |
|On his Reputation: "You know it's flattering when there's a rumor that says I'm bisexual," he says in the December issue of Details. "It means I can play more kinds of roles. I'm open to whatever people want to call me. I've never really been attracted to men sexually, but I don't think I would be afraid of it if it happened."|| ||On his Inspiration: Credits his uncle, "a big guy…(who) goes to bare-knuckle fighting out in the Nevada desert, and he's gay" for helping him understand his character, Ennis. His uncle, who as a young man was told to leave home by his father because of his sexuality, has confirmed his story. |
|Creative Differences: Jake chipped a tooth on his rifle while filming a scene in his '05 Marine movie, "Jarhead," and got so mad about his tooth that he punched another actor: "For some reason, I just got so angry that I had chipped my tooth, and just started hitting him and we didn't talk for a month after that" On the set of his first big film, "The Day After Tomorrow," rewrote his own dialogue after finding the script "generic" -- "which, much to my dismay, they didn't...really...appreciate. But they listened."|| ||Differences: Heath and girlfriend Michelle Williams were sprayed by paparazzi wielding water pistols at the Sydney premiere of "Brokeback Mountain." He was reportedly considering filing assault charges. Last year, he was accused of jumping a paparazzo who was staking him out on a movie set. He's also been accused of spitting on paparazzi, a charge he denied to Australia's Daily Telegraph, "It's disgusting and awful. I would never in a million years do anything like that. I'm not some sort of dirty spitter."|
|Relationships: Has been dating actress Kirsten Dunst on and off again since 2002. Previously dated actress James King. Rumored romance with friend Chelsea Clinton six years ago.|| ||Relationships: Michelle Williams, his onscreen wife in "Brokeback," with whom he has daughter Matilda, born in October. Past girlfriends include Naomi Watts, Heather Graham, and Lisa Zane. || |
|Growing Up Hollywood: Politically active liberal family includes movie star sister Maggie, mom Naomi Foner (a producer and screenwriter who wrote "Running on Empty") and dad Stephen (whose directing credits include "Homegrown"). Attended standard rich industry kid private school, Harvard-Westlake. His dad gave him a role in "A Dangerous Woman" (scripted by his mom) in 1993 and he caught the bug. He attended Columbia University even as his career was taking off with "Bottle Rocket," but dropped out after two years. || ||Growing up Aussie: Father, Kim, a motorsport engineer, and mother Sally, a sometimes French tutor. Heath grew up around speedways in Western Australia and won some go-kart races himself, which led Kim to believe he might become a racer. In school, he devoted himself to sports including field hockey and Aussie rules football to avoid "cadets," which would require him to wear a uniform and "shoot automatic weapons at age 16." Parents divorced when he was 10. He left Perth to pursue acting in Sydney at age 16 with less than a dollar in his bank account.|
|As He Said It: "Get us at a table and all we do is talk about 'the artist's way' like we're f---in' Uta Hagen and her family." (Vanity Fair, May '01) || ||Bet He Wishes He'd Never Said It: "At the end of the day, the Academy Awards are just a big f---ing TV show. I mean, who really gives a s---." (Movieline, April '01)|
|Lesser-Known Skill: Loves surfing. || ||Lesser-Known Skill: Plays the didjeridu, the Aboriginal woodwind instrument.|
|Seen In: "Jarhead," "Proof," "The Day After Tomorrow," "The Good Girl," "Moonlight Mile," "Donnie Darko," "Bubble Boy."|| ||Seen In: "Casanova," "The Brothers Grimm," "Candy," "Lords of Dogtown," "Ned Kelly," "Monster's Ball," "A Knight's Tale," "The Patriot," "10 Things I Hate About You."|
|Up Next: The David Fincher-directed "Zodiac," about the San Francisco serial killer. || ||Up Next: Heath has been mentioned in connection with Sony's planned bio-pic of surfer Greg Noll, but says his focus right now is on taking care of "my girls," his beloved Michelle and Matilda.|Syndicated Columnists
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