They are two confirmed actors. The film industry and books about the seventh art will always have on a special page two of the people who made the turn of the century a challenge with a happy ending. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio need no introduction. Their talent was confirmed by the long list of films in which they appeared individually, as well as the film – by Tarantino – and the short film – by Scorsese – that they projected on camera. But people make mistakes from time to time, and even they are not immune to mistakes. In fact, one of the greatest and at the same time most unknown of their careers was celebrated together.
This story begins at the beginning of the new millennium. Gus Van Sant wanted to have a good cast for his new work and he noticed the names of the actors who were beginning to touch the tip with their fingers. Mainly a couple of men were needed. Two men. Matt Damon and Joaquin Phoenix were an option; Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, another. He sent the script and the response was negative.
This is how the film took shape and was released in theaters around the world at the end of 2005. The coffers were bursting. It’s Brokeback Mountain, the groundbreaking cowboy film that ended one of the western’s most powerful myths. The protagonists were gay cowboys, which had never happened before.
Change of direction and eight Oscar nominations
There were various reasons. The Damon-Phoenix duo declined the offer because Damon did not want to commit to a project which, according to him, was a repetition of his latest works: he had just made a film in which his character was homosexual, then another , in which he was a cowboy. A third film in which he played a gay cowboy seemed too much; although he later assured in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he regretted it. Josh Hartnett was also an option. That didn’t work either.
The filming was left to Ang Lee and the rest is history. Eight Oscar nominations. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t see themselves in this role because sometimes you don’t realize the size of a character until you see the finished film. Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams and Anna Faris joined them, but the couple remained. Ultimately, the responsibility fell to two young talents who had already proven their cinematic potential: Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. The first, nominated for best actor; the second, for best supporting actor. And Lee went home with the statuette for best director.