Heath Ledger took inspiration for his role as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain from his bisexual uncle who was disowned by his father.

The Australian hunk, who is an Oscar favourite for his performance in Ang Lee's Golden Globe-winning movie, was accompanied by family member NEIL BELL at the film's Sydney premiere on Friday (13JAN06).

Bell, who admitted his broad sexuality at a young age, is currently the president of the Australian Arm Wrestling Federation and is a successful bare-knuckle boxer.

Ledger says, "I had a dear friend of mine, who's my uncle. He was 20 when his father approached him and said: 'Are you gay?'

"He said yes, and two weeks later his father came back to him and said, 'I believe you're ill, and I want you to go to hospital and get fixed. If you don't go, I want you to leave the family.'

"He is really tough, the most masculine guy out there. He had to overcompensate."