director Ang Lee has revealed that Heath Ledger based his character in seminal gay cowboy drama film on one of his uncles.
Speaking to Variety
to mark the movie's 10-year anniversary, Lee said that the late actor - who tragically passed away in 2008 at the age of 28 following a drug overdose - had taken inspiration from his own family when tackling the role of rancher Ennis Del Mar.
"Heath came in and wanted to do it right away," Lee said.
"I think he told me that he learned from one of his uncles, who is also a very macho, homophobic gay, much like Ennis, and also a rancher."
On shooting the film's iconic sex scenes, the 60-year-old explained: "I was pretty shy shooting sex scenes, so I designed a very complicated one-shot deal, with 13 points of focus. I made it technical so that no one would think about anything else except hitting their marks.
"Once we got past the first take, nobody was shy anymore. We tried to make it as real and compelling as possible, and they were very professional. Getting into the first take was hard, and it was the 13th take that I ended up using, which was the last take.”
grossed $178 million at the box office on it release in 2005, and still ranks as the most finacially successful LGBT-themed film ever made. Lee added that he was nervous about the public's reaction to the then-headline grabbing plot, and that he was surprised by its eventual critical and commerical success.
"I also thought it would be an arthouse film with a very small audience. I was nervous about the subject matter hitting the shopping mall, and I was surprised at its success.
"I think it has something to do with the fact that it’s a poignant love story."
Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Ledger's onscreen lover Jack Twist, admitted last year that starring in the film gave him a new appreciation of film's social and political power - click here to find out more
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