By Mike Miller
July 18, 2018 at 08:54 PM EDT
Credit: Gregory Pace/REX/Shutterstock; REX/Shutterstock

No A-list actors, including Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, wanted to saddle up for the lead roles in Brokeback Mountain, according to Gus Van Sant.

“Nobody wanted to do it,” Van Sant, who was originally considered as a director for the film, told IndieWire. “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.”

Brokeback Mountain producer and screenwriter Diana Ossana confirmed in an email to IndieWire that those actors had passed on the film, saying, “Yes, all those young gentlemen (at the time) turned down the project, for various reasons.”

Credit: Everett Collection

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The 2005 film, which chronicles the complicated love story of two modern cowboys, went on to become one of the most groundbreaking and successful LGBTQ films ever made. It was nominated for 8 Oscars, including best actor and best supporting actor nods for Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, respectively. Ang Lee took home the award for best director, and the film also won for best adapted screenplay and achievement in music.

“What I could have done, and what I probably should have done, was cast more unknowns, not worried about who were the lead actors,” Van Sant explained. “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.”

Meanwhile, Pitt and DiCaprio are currently teaming up for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, hitting theaters July 26, 2019.