Jake Gyllenhaal Replaced Joaquin Phoenix In His Most Iconic Role

By Tyler Pisapia | 1 month ago

jake gyllenhaal

Josh Hartnett opened up about one of the biggest in a long string of roles that he regrets turning down. The actor revealed that Jake Gyllenhaal was actually the replacement for him and/or Joaquin Phoenix in the 2005 hit Brokeback MountainSpeaking to news.com.au, Josh Hartnett revealed that he was the original choice alongside Joaquin Phoenix to play the two cowboys who end up falling in love while on a sheep herding job. The film and its portrayal of a forbidden love set in the 1960s in a part of the country that’s unkind to homosexuality went on to earn multiple Oscars. As a result, it catapulted the already blossoming careers of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal to extraordinary new heights.

It’s worth noting, though, that Josh Hartnett also revealed that the movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger was somewhat different than the script that he and Joaquin Phoenix were signed on for. However, the broad strokes likely had to be the same so how different could it have really been? Regardless, the young actor was already committed to filming The Black Dahlia, so he had to back out. It wasn’t an altogether crazy decision. Although it was not nearly as well-received as Brokeback Mountain, the 2006 film inspired by the notorious real-life California murder had a lot of star power behind the camera with Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables) in the director’s chair and a script from James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential) it must have seemed like the safer bet at the time.

Although neither won, both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal walked away from the project with Oscar nominations and a lot of career wind at their backs that they parlayed into interesting respective projects in the next few years. Gyllenhaal followed Brokeback Mountain up with hits like Jarhead, Zodiac as well as Love and Other Drugs. Heath Ledger meanwhile had nothing but a promising future ahead of him prior to his tragic death in 2008. 

jake gylenhall brokeback mountain on netflix

Two years after starring alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, he did perhaps his most beloved performance yet as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise. Ironically, it’s here that he and Josh Hartnett could have crossed paths were it not for the latter’s decision to turn his back on yet another impossibly successful movie. 

People reports that Josh Hartnett previously revealed that he was in talks with Christopher Nolan to be his Bruce Wayne long before Christian Bale was in the picture. However, he explained at the time that he was terrified of joining the superhero genre for fear of being typecast as a heartthrob and losing his ability to tell more grounded human stories. However, he’s since seen the error of his ways when it comes to both The Dark Knight franchise, which was perhaps the most grounded superhero adaptation to date, as well as losing a spot to Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain. Fortunately for Hartnett, he’s able to laugh about losing the role to Gyllenhaal now, but he did cheekily note to news.com.au that he has always wanted to kiss Joaquin Phoenix, so he’s still bummed about that.