“Nobody wanted to do it,” says Van Sant https://t.co/9oAHm9Nchf— Variety (@Variety) July 19, 2018
While promoting his new movie "Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot," director Gus Van Sant (of 'Good Will Hunting' fame) admitted that he was originally attached to direct 2005's 'Brokeback Mountain' (before Ang Lee was brought on), and revealed many of the actors who turned down roles:
Gus Van Sant: “Nobody wanted to do it. 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.”
He said casting Ennis for the movie was a huge hurdle. Of course, he moved on, Lee took over, and the rest is history, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger taking on the roles (and receiving Oscar nominations for their work).
Van Sant also said he was offered the director's spot for last year's "Call Me By Your Name," which he eventually turned down (sounds like creative/artistic differences from his quote).