Brokeback Mountain, arguably considered to be one of the best LGBTQ movies of all time, could’ve actually happened years before its initial release.
Lee Daniels spoke with Insider last week about how he was the original director for the Oscar-winning movie but couldn’t get the film made for one big reason.
“I was going to be directing Brokeback Mountain,” he said. “A long, long time ago. It was going to be my second movie after Monster’s Ball.” That film, which he produced, earned Halle Berry the Oscar for Best Actress. She remains the only woman of color to win that coveted honor.
“It was a very expensive piece to keep and I simply couldn’t get the movie made,” he continued about Brokeback. “Nobody wanted to see the movie, nobody wanted to make the movie.”
Brokeback was later made by River Road Entertainment and distributed by Focus Features. It had also found a new director in Ang Lee, who previously had worldwide success with other movies such as Sense and Sensibility and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ang scored his first Best Director Oscar as a result of making the Jake Gyllenhaal–Heath Ledger led project.
“I couldn’t watch the film when it came out. I saw the movie in my head, the script was powerful. I saw the entire film in my head because it was so powerful,” Lee, who later scored a Best Director Oscar nod himself for Precious, said.
“So when Ang came out with it, I didn’t want to see it. Because I just didn’t think that he would do it justice. When [Jack and Ennis] first had sex in the tent, I saw that scene how I would direct it, so I just couldn’t imagine any other filmmaker doing it justice. Especially a straight filmmaker taking it on.”
It took Lee a very, very long time for him to finally sit down and watch the film. “I saw it, like, 15 years later and Ang Lee did a really great job. As a matter of fact, he did it in a way that was palatable for many heterosexuals around the world. I would have probably been more in your face with it, and he did it in a different perspective, so kudos to him. And I told him that.”
Lee has also found a great amount of success in the years since Brokeback and Precious. He went on to create Empire, one of the biggest television series of the 2010 decade, and directed the 2012 film The Butler which costarred Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey.