Director Lee Daniels said he couldn't watch 'Brokeback Mountain' for 15 years because he didn't think Ang Lee would do it justice
"Brokeback Mountain" won three Academy Awards.
Lee Daniels, the creator of Empire, told Insider that he was the original director of Brokeback Mountain, but couldn't make the film because "nobody wanted to see the film."
"It was a very expensive piece and I just couldn't make the film," Daniels told Insider.
The film was eventually shot by Ang Lee, whom Daniels could not see for 15 years because he "could not imagine another filmmaker who could do it justice".
Finally, however, he saw the film and loved Lee's direction of the film: "He did it in a way that was tasty for many heterosexuals around the world."
Brokeback Mountain won three Oscars, including a best director win for Lee.
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Lee Daniels told Insider that he was the original director of the Oscar-winning "Brokeback Mountain" but couldn't make the film because "nobody wanted to see the film".
The project then went to Ang Lee, who won his first Oscar for best director for the now classic film with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as two cowboys who have had an intense and secret relationship for years.
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"I wanted to stage 'Brokeback Mountain' but I lost the rights," said Daniels, who is gay himself, to Insider. "A long, long time ago. It would be my second film after Monster's Ball."
Daniels produced the "Monster's Ball" in 2001, which made history when Halle Berry was the first colored woman to win the best actress at the Oscars. "Brokeback Mountain" would have been his second production loan, but his first director's loan.
Halle Berry Oscar Monsters Ball
Halle Berry won an Oscar for playing Leticia Musgrove in Daniels' "Monster's Ball".
TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP via Getty Images / Lionsgate Films
"It was a very expensive piece and I just couldn't make the film," Daniels told Insider. "Nobody wanted to see the film, nobody wanted to make the film. And I had to let it go."
"Shadowboxer" with Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. became his directorial debut.
Brokeback Mountain was eventually made by River Road Entertainment and distributed by Focus Features. A new director was found in Ang Lee, who had international successes with "Sense and Sensibility" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", which earned him an Oscar nod for best director.
Lee Daniels Ang Lee
The original director of "Brokeback Mountain", Lee Daniels, and the later director of the film, Ang Lee.
Taylor Hill / FilmMagic / Dan MacMedan / WireImage
Brokeback Mountain was released to receive rave reviews with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 87% and won three Oscars, including a best director win for Lee. It was nominated for the best picture, but is known to lose the Crash award, which many consider one of the Academy's biggest surprises.
Despite the film's success, Daniels couldn't bring himself to watch the film.
"I couldn't see the film when it came out. I saw the film in my head, the script was powerful. I saw the entire film in my head because it was so powerful," said Daniels.
"When Ang came out with it, I didn't want to see it. Because I just didn't think he would do it justice. When [Jack and Ennis] had sex in the tent for the first time, I saw this scene like I would stage it, so I couldn't imagine any other filmmaker doing it right. Especially a heterosexual filmmaker doing it. "
Brokeback Mountain writer and Ang Lee Oscars
Ang Lee won an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain", as did the film's authors, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana.
Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Daniels could not see the film for a long time because its version remained in his head years after the film was released. Finally, however, he saw it.
"I saw it about 15 years later and Ang Lee did a really great job. In fact, he did it in a way that was tasty for a lot of heterosexuals around the world. I probably would have been more on your face with it, and he did it from a different perspective, so a big compliment to him. And I told him that. "
Daniels directed "Precious" as his second feature film, which earned him two Oscar nominations: one for the best director and one as a producer for the best picture. Daniels also created TV shows "Star" and "Empire".
The director said that while he couldn't imagine a direct filmmaker doing something like "Brokeback Mountain", he had no problem with heterosexual filmmakers doing LGBTQ projects.
"It's like saying I shouldn't be telling a love story. I think everyone should be given the opportunity," said Daniels.
"I love how we have evolved into a place where we really look for the truth in casting. We are now in a different time, so we can actually cast a real gay man or lesbian around it I think if a heterosexual man wants to play a gay role, why not? And if gay men want to play heterosexual men, why not? That's what it's called acting. "
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