In the provocative drama, Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger plays Ennis Del Mar, one of two cowboys who embark on a secret love relationship that lasts throughout their lives. Paired with Jake Gyllenhaal, Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar is a quiet camp tender who takes a job atop Brokeback Mountain in rural Wyoming. Here, Del Mar and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) carefully maintain the manly cowboy persona while secretly showing interest towards one another. Interest becomes sexual attraction, and the two begin a long-term love affair that lasts for decades, while still managing to uphold the standards for a “normal” relationship as dictated by the times.
Born in Perth, Western Australia in 1979, the life and career of Heath Andrew Ledger was tragically cut short when an accidental overdose of prescription drugs ended his life in Manhattan, New York City. Ledger’s career began with an elective course in junior high school. Faced with the choice between culinary class or acting, Ledger chose to enter the drama class and soon discovered his natural talent.
At the age of 17, Ledger packed up and moved to Sydney, hoping to break into the film and entertainment industry. He earned small roles in low-budget movies and television series, before ultimately landing the lead role in the crime thriller Two Hands in 1999. This role catapulted Ledger to the forefront of the industry and positioned him for opportunities in the United States. What followed was a series of character roles, some admittedly questionable, until he finally achieved success with 2005’s Brokeback Mountain. Ledger went on to win awards for his final movie The Dark Knight, including many awarded posthumously.
Throughout his abbreviated career, Heath Ledger worked diligently to avoid being typecast as the “hunky heartthrob” cliché he played in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). The result is a wide-reaching variety of characters in his repertoire.
In 1996, Ledger was offered two roles in the Australian TV series, Sweat. He opted for the roles of a gay cyclist, who was working to earn his spot on the Olympic team. This role put Ledger in a challenging and unique position, which unknowingly helped prepare him for a similar gay role in Brokeback Mountain, a decade later. Sweat was unfortunately cancelled, which opened doors for Ledger to explore cinematic productions. 10 Things I Hate About You introduced Ledger to the American mainstream, followed by pivotal roles in The Patriot and Monsters Ball. Ledger achieved his greatest fame following his death, when Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight hit theaters. Review our Gay Themed Films here