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Set against the vistas of Wyoming and Texas, director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) depicts the epic journey of ranch-hand Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). The two men meet in the summer of 1963 and unexpectedly forge a powerful, lifelong connection—one whose complications, joys and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Co-starring Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams and Randy Quaid. Screenplay by Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) and Diana Ossana, based on a story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author E. Annie Proulx (The Shipping News).

 Brokeback Mountain

To me, Brokeback Mountain is uniquely, and universally, a great American love story.

We know the West from movies, as the romanticized world of gunslingers. But the real West, I don’t think people around the world know about that much. People like me, coming from Taiwan, outside of America, think of America as New York and the West Coast. But there’s this big chunk of rural American life that we don’t really know too much about. It’s a love story about those people.

I think people need to know about that side of America. Like everybody, they have a heart and they don’t talk too much about it. You have to really dig to discover it, and share that experience.

If a project is not scary and sensitive, then it’s probably less interesting to me. After Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, we were on our way to make our next project, and James Schamus mentioned to me that he just came upon this interesting material. I read the short story, which I wasn’t aware of when it was first published. I had tears in my eyes at the end, and it stayed with me. I then read Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana’s screenplay, and it was a very faithful and great adaptation.

Two years later, I asked James, “What happened with Brokeback Mountain? Did it get made yet?” He said, “We haven’t been able to make that movie.” Lucky for me. I said, “You know, it’s stuck with me over the years. I can’t get it out of my mind.”

James got the rights, and I started thinking about making the movie right away. Before I knew I could physically do it, I jumped on. I just knew, in the bottom of my heart, if I let it go, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

Everyone has a yearning for love. Maybe you have that taste of it and you keep wanting to go back; maybe you never have that. It’s a poignant story—“would have, should have, could have...”