“The role apparently ran counter to Gibson’s morality”: Mel Gibson Allegedly Abandoned Heath Ledger for Playing a Gay Icon 

Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger had an odd friendship until the Mad Max star became upset about ‘Brokeback Mountain’.

“The role apparently ran counter to Gibson’s morality”: Mel Gibson Allegedly Abandoned Heath Ledger for Playing a Gay Icon 


  • Mel Gibson's friendship with the late star ended because of Ledger’s involvement in Brokeback Mountain, even though the former advised him not to.
  • Mel Gibson's relationship with Heath Ledger did not improve even after Brokeback Mountain's success.
  • Gibson stated that if communication had been maintained, he could have potentially altered the events leading to Ledger's untimely death.
Show More
Featured Video

We have learned a lot about the late actor Heath Ledger’s relationships with his co-stars over the course of his career. While some co-stars have had feuds, Ledger and Mel Gibson were friends while they worked together. However, after they became close, it is said that Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain destroyed their relationship.


Well, whatever brought them together, the end of their friendship is intriguing. Amazingly, Ledger and Gibson remained silent about their friendship’s end, though there were rumors that Ledger’s film role was primarily to blame.

A story about Ledger’s friendship with the Mad Max star was published in The New York Daily News just a few days after his death. That report claimed that Ledger’s role in Brokeback Mountain, despite Gibson’s advice not to, caused their relationship to end.

Mel Gibson in Mad Max
Mel Gibson in Mad Max

Read more: 5 Movies Where Mel Gibson Could Have Replaced Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robin Williams and Other Famous Stars

How Did Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger’s Friendship End Over Brokeback Mountain?

With its depiction of the complex romantic relationship between two American cowboys, Brokeback Mountain, which was released in 2005, captured audiences’ attention and turned into a cultural phenomenon. With the American West as the backdrop, Heath Ledger portrayed Ennis Del Mar, one half of a star-crossed love story.

Even though there was a lot of controversy surrounding the movie at the time—particularly around the s*xuality of the lead characters—it has since been deemed one of the greatest movies ever made. But Mel Gibson’s friendship with the late star ended because of Ledger’s involvement in Brokeback Mountain, even though the former advised him not to, according to the New York Daily News.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain
Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain

The New York Daily News quoted Paul Barresi, a private investigator, in their report. Additionally, according to the article, Gibson strongly objected to Ledger playing the lead (a gay icon) in Brokeback Mountain because the role ran counter” to the Lethal Weapon actor’s “morality”:

“Ledger and Gibson had grown close while filming The Patriot, in which Ledger played Gibson’s son. ‘Ledger asked Gibson whether he should take the role of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback,’ Barresi says a ‘major Hollywood producer’ told him. ‘Gibson strongly counseled against it. The role apparently ran counter to Gibson’s morality. And he felt that it would ruin Heath’s career’.”

Even though Gibson had doubts about the role, the movie was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $178 million worldwide. The lead actors received particular praise from critics for their flawless performances.

A still from Brokeback Mountain
A still from Brokeback Mountain featuring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal

Read more: “I was outraged”: Bojack Horseman Creator Found Out Harvey Weinstein & Mel Gibson Were Fans, Destroyed Them With Greatest Gag Ever in TV History


How Was Their Relationship After Brokeback Mountain

Mel Gibson’s own comments suggest that his relationship with Heath Ledger did not improve following the success of Brokeback Mountain. The former mentioned in an interview that he lost touch with the late actor for a number of years. Gibson was interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel about a year after Ledger’s death. In the ensuing discussion, he expressed regret for not providing Ledger with the necessary support prior to the late actor’s demise (via The Sydney Morning Herald).

“I should have called him years before. I didn’t really know the ins and outs of what was up with him, but I don’t believe it was just an accident.”

Gibson proceeded to discuss his thoughts on what he could have done for Ledger had they maintained communication. According to his statement to Kimmel, he thought he could have changed the course of events that resulted in Ledger’s untimely death:

“Maybe, I could have called him. When you see sort of an impending tragedy that might go wrong, it just felt like I should do something about it.”

Heath Ledger died much too young on January 22, 2008. His cause of death was determined to be an accidental overdose following his passing (via ABC News):


“Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.”

Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain

Despite being embroiled in a number of scandals during his acting career, the late actor still regarded him as a mentor. Moreover, he left behind amazing work that is still an inspiration for acting professionals.

You can watch Brokeback Mountain on Netflix. 

Read more: “We tested lines by stealing lines:” Mel Gibson Got A Role In $227 Million Movie Because Of Jodie Foster’s Gambling Comedy Flick


Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1387

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1300 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.