In his latest profile for the February issue of GQ Australia, it was revealed that Gyllenhaal and Ledger — who passed away at the age of 28 in 2008 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs — both auditioned for the same role in 2001’s Moulin Rouge, but they didn’t get the part.
“I was auditioning for Moulin Rouge! Baz Luhrmann had chosen three actors. It was Ewan [McGregor], it was Heath, and me,” he recalled. “We auditioned with many different actresses, it was a long process. But I never met Heath, I only heard about him. We would be shuffled in and out of rooms. They would literally put me in a room and lock the door and Heath would come in and then Heath would be shuffled through the door. I never saw him.”
McGregor was cast for the role, but the failure brought the Oscar-nominated pair together and helped them form a lasting friendship. They eventually ended up working together in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain. “When Ewan was cast, I finally met Heath and we sort of became friends before Brokeback Mountain based on our mutual frustration,” Gyllenhaal revealed. “When Brokeback Mountain came out and it got all the attention it did, I remember, a few months later, Heath called me and he was like, ‘Hey mate, I got some news for you’. I said, ‘What?’”
The Southpaw actor continued: “He said, ‘Baz just offered me his next movie. I just wanted you to know, I f–king turned it down!’ So that was how much Heath loved me, you know. That was how I met him.”
On January 22, 2008, Ledger was found dead in his New York City apartment. The Dark Knight actor dated his other Brokeback Mountain costar Michelle Williams — whom he met on the set of the film — but they split in August 2007. The duo’s daughter, Matilda, now 12, is Gyllenhaal’s goddaughter.
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