The actors got together for a feature in Out to talk about the film – and Ledger, who died in 2008 from an accidental drug overdose, was a big part of the conversation.
"I'd known Heath for a really long time before that movie," says Gyllenhaal, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role of Jack Twist. "We were friends. We went to a sort of boot camp, where we'd all hang out and learn to ride. Heath already knew how to ride really well, but we'd ride and hang out on the ranch outside of Los Angeles."
Gyllenhaal admits that he misses his friend and collaborator.
"While there are many parts of the real story that are sad, one of the saddest things is that I won't be able to exchange ideas creatively with Heath again, because that was one of the most beautiful things to come out of that," Gyllenhaal, now 34, says.
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"Heath just really wanted to go there, and kind of got down," the actress, now 32, says about Ledger's role as Ennis Del Mar, which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. "The plan was for him to put his face against the wall – that's what the shot was supposed to be – and he just wound up punching the brick. Everyone was freaking out because it was a real wall. It wasn't a movie brick wall. It was a f------ brick wall. And he did it, and they got it, and they said his hand was mangled. He might have actually broken it."
Hathaway also reminisced about her audition for the part of Lureen Newsome.
"I was filming Princess Diaries 2, and I was working on Universal Lot [where] Ang [Lee, the film's director] was going to be meeting with people," she says. "We were shooting the coronation part of the movie, so I was dressed a ball gown, wearing this big hairpiece that was way over the top, but also worked for a rodeo queen, so it was fine. I just put on my jeans and a plaid flannel shirt, and drove across the lot in a golf cart with my big princess hair. I remember being very, very calm, which is unusual for me under any circumstances, especially at 21. I just felt so centered and focused, and in way like a predator: I knew what I wanted."
Gyllenhaal adds that, once they began shooting, the cast and crew grew closer than is typical on a movie set.
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Check out the full story in Out, which also includes conversations with costar Randy Quaid, director Ang Lee, and screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry.