Jake Gyllenhaal is certainly one of Hollywood’s ‘it’ guys. Not only is he an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actor but he is well known amongst Hollywood producers as one of the most versatile actors there is. Whether he is asked to play a serious dramatic role like he has in movies like ‘Brokeback Mountain’ or ‘Brothers’, the action hero in ‘Prince Of Persia: The Sand Of Times’, romantic lead in ‘Love And Other Drugs’ or a combination of genres like ‘Source Code’ or ‘End Of Watch’ producers know he will shine in the role so much that both critics and fans are singing his praises at the same time.
Jacob ‘Jake’ Benjamin Gyllenhaal(his last name his pronounced as jill-en-hall) was born on the 19th December, 1980 in Los Angeles to a family that was firmly planted in the entertainment industry. His father, Stephen Gyllenhaal, is a film director and producer (most noted for his work on ‘Girl Fight’) while his mother, Naomi Foner, is a screenwriter (most noted for her work on ‘Running on Empty’ which earned her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations). Even his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal is an actress and she appeared with her brother in his break-out film, ‘Donnie Darko’. And to top it all off Gyllenhaal’s godmother is famed actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
Gyllenhaal’s career in acting started very early indeed. At the age of just eleven he made his big screen appearance playing Billy Crystal’s son in the hit comedy ‘City Slickers’ although it is obvious that his parents had mixed feelings about him acting at such an early age. They prevented him from auditioning for a role in ‘The Mighty Ducks’ as it would take him away from home for two months and in the years to follow they would allow him to audition for a film but then ban from accepting the role if he were to be offered the role.
This however didn’t stop them from allowing him to appear in three of his father’s projects, ‘A Dangerous Woman’, ‘Homegrown’ and a episode of television show ‘Homicide: Life Of Street’. Along with Maggie Jake also appeared alongside his mother in a cooking show called ‘Molto Maria’. Before graduation he also appeared in a not popular children’s adventure called ‘Josh And S.A.M.’
In 1988 Gyllenhaal graduated from Harvard-Westlake School and then attended Columbia University where he studied Eastern Religions and Philosophy but after just two years he dropped out to concentrate on his acting career.
Gyllenhaal’s first starring role came in Joe Johnston’s bio-pic ‘October Sky’ a film that did moderately well at the box office and had critics raving about Gyllenhaal’s performance. He backed that up with a lead role in ‘Donnie Darko’ a film that practically flopped at the box office but has since become a cult favorite, so much so that many film journalists still refer to it as Gyllenhaal’s breakout role.
Gyllenhaal then appeared in the films ‘Bubble Boy’, ‘Lovely & Amazing’, ‘The Good Girl’, ‘Highway’ and ‘Moonlight Mile’ before he appeared in his first blockbuster the end-of-the-world action thriller ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. Then came ‘Brokeback Mountain’ in which Gyllenhaal starred alongside Heath Ledger. The film received critical acclaim, showed that Gyllenhaal was capable of pulling off deeply dramatic roles and even eared the young star an Oscar nomination.
Gyllenhaal continued in a series of dramatic roles in films like ‘Jarhead’, ‘Zodiac’, ‘Rendition’ and ‘Brothers’ before appearing as an action hero in ‘Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time’ a film that was well received by critics but did do amazingly well at the box office. Since then Gyllenhaal has proved his versatility as an actor playing the romantic lead to Anne Hathaway in ‘Love And Other Drugs’ and then combining both action and drama in ‘Source Code’ and ‘End Of Watch’.
Gyllenhaal has been extremely lucky in his private life not only avoiding any major Hollywood scandals but also escaping a major fire with his sister Maggie in December 2006 that destroyed a lodge they were staying in. He has dated actresses Kirsten Dunst (2002-2004) and Reese Witherspoon (2007-2009). He also dated singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for three months in late 2010. And while he doesn’t have any children of his own he is godfather to Matilda Rose Ledger (born on 28th October, 2005) the daughter of Michelle Williams the late Heath Ledger.
2013/2014 is shaping up to be an extremely busy time with Gyllenhaal. He is next set to appear alongside Jessica Biel and Kirstie Alley in ‘Nailed’ before teaming up with Hugh Jackman in ‘Prisoners’, as well as working on new films ‘An Enemy’ and ‘Mississippi Grind’… it seems that this talented young actor is not going to be short of work anytime soon.