Why Baz Luhrmann Didn’t Cast Heath Ledger in Moulin Rouge!
There was also another possible contender for the role of Christian: Jake Gyllenhaal. Like Ledger, he was also too young for the role, but their experience auditioning for Christian gave them something to laugh over while on set of Brokeback Mountain, according to Gyllenhaal’s 2018 interview with GQ Australia.
“I was auditioning for Moulin Rouge! Baz Luhrmann had chosen three actors. It was Ewan, it was Heath, and me. And we auditioned with many different actresses, it was a long process,” he recalled. “But I never met Heath, I only heard about him. We would be shuffled in and out of rooms. They would literally put me in a room and lock the door and Heath would come in and then Heath would be shuffled through the door. I never saw him.”
After they met, they both bonded over their “mutual frustration” of losing out on the opportunity to star in Moulin Rouge!, but it also became a joke of sorts. As he put it, “Heath called me and he was like, [affects Ledger impersonation] ‘Hey mate, I got some news for you’. I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Baz just offered me his next movie. I just wanted you to know, I f–king turned it down!'”