Brokeback Mountain is actually based on a story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx, first published in 1998. The script—which earned Oscars® for screenplay adapters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana—had floated around Hollywood for years. Jake says he'd first heard of it when he was a teenager, but doubted it would ever be made.
Despite the potentially controversial subject matter, Jake says his doubts ended once he read the story. "It was really the most beautiful love story I had ever read, and I couldn't not do it," he says. "When you see the movie and you read the script and you read the short story, I think all those things [like potential controversy] kind of oddly go away."
Heath agrees. He says he was initially anxious about the risks involved in starring in Brokeback Mountain. "I think it bled into my initial reaction," he says. "But then that kind of disappeared, and I was just left with this beautiful story. It felt important. It felt like a story that had never been put to screen."