Director Gus Van Sant has revealed that Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio all turned down roles in hit film Brokeback Mountain.
The gay love story, which was released in 2015 and went to win eight Academy Award nominations in 2006, eventually led with stars like Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams.
“Nobody wanted to do it,” Van Sant said in a new interview with IndieWire. “I was working on it, and I felt like we needed a really strong cast, like a famous cast. That wasn’t working out. I asked the usual suspects: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ryan Phillippe. They all said no.”
Reflecting on his casting stance, Van Sant believes he made slight errors with his concerns: “what I could have done, and what I probably should have done, was cast more unknowns, not worried about who were the lead actors.
“I was not ready. I’m not sure why. There was just sort of a hiccup on my part. There was something off with myself, I guess, whatever was going on,” he continued.
Diana Ossana, who produced the film with James Schamus, backed up Van Sant’s claims that both Pitt and DiCaprio skipped the opportunity to work on the film: “Yes, all those young gentlemen (at the time) turned down the project, for various reasons,” she wrote in an email response to IndieWire.
“Casting Ennis, in particular, was the ultimate hurdle,” she added.