"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.
... What I could have done, and what I probably should have done, was cast more unknowns, not worried about who were the lead actors,” he said. “I was not ready. I’m not sure why. There was just sort of a hiccup on my part. There was something off with myself, I guess, whatever was going on.”
-- Gus Van Sant chatted with indieWire this week (he's got a movie out, don't ya know) and gave good quote, naming names, on the time he spent trying to make Brokeback Mountain and he couldn't get any actors to star in it. He also talks about how he wanted to make something more contemplative and independent out of the short story a la his film Gerry than what Larry McMurtry had written and his heart wasn't in it, so we're lucky Gus stepped away, if you ask me. Actually I don't you even need to ask me - I think we're all pretty clear on being happy with how it turned out. (If you're not happy with how Brokeback Mountain turned out... here is not the place to share that.) He also talks about having been offered Call Me By Your Name (and I'm also happy he didn't make that, funny enough!) so head on over and read the whole thing. Can you picture Brad Pitt or Matt Damon or Ryan Phillippe getting it in the butt in a pup-tent and really meaning it like Jake did? I can't, but I don't entirely mind trying.