Last December I had the opportunity to talk with Heath Ledger at The Drake Hotel in New York City. In the film Brokeback Mountain, Ledger plays Ennis Del Mar, a ranch hand who falls in love with cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) while the two spend the summer of 1963 herding sheep in the mountains of Wyoming. But prior to his widely-praised and Oscar-nominated performance in this entrancing story of forbidden love, Heath struggled to find his niche in Hollywood films. However, with this triumph, Ledger is finally receiving the accolades he so rightfully deserves.
DAZE: Many are calling Brokeback Mountain a love story for this generation. Coming from a college newspaper, how do you think our readers will receive this film?
Heath Ledger: Well, I’m hoping that today’s society, especially your generation, is a little more mature and accepting of our story. I think it’s really naive for people to be so opinionated about expressing their disgust or fears concerning how two people want to love each other. Shouldn’t we be doing that about how two people express anger instead? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
DAZE: But Ennis is angry, he has numerous violent outbursts throughout the film. Is that related to his emotional repression?
HL: Violence was the one form of expression he allowed himself. It was also part of punishing himself because he hated the way he loved. Essentially, Ennis is a homophobic man in love with another man. And that’s why he beats himself up in the alleyway, that’s why he goes to a pub and starts hitting a guy in a car, just so he can get beaten up by another person. He wants to feel pain and be punished for loving who he loves.