Jake is the son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and producer/screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, and the brother of actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, who also played his sister in Donnie Darko. The siblings also worked together in the film A Dangerous Woman. His father is of partial Swedish heritage and his mother is Jewish of Ashkenazi heritage. His mother was once married to Eric Foner, a well known American historian at Columbia University, however they divorced and she remarried. His father's family is descended from the Swedish noble Gyllenhaal family.
Gyllenhaal made his film debut in City Slickers (1991) and began to establish himself as an up-and-coming actor in such films as October Sky (1999) before being cast in the title role in Donnie Darko (2001), for which he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best actor. Gyllenhaal's performance as a troubled schizophrenic won him excellent reviews and the film quickly acquired cult status. He played opposite Jennifer Aniston in another Sundance favourite in 2002's The Good Girl and once again earned good reviews. Gyllenhaal also starred in the Walt Disney romantic comedy, Bubble Boy. Loosely based on the story of David Vetter, the film portrays the title character's adventure outside the confines of his bubble as he goes after the woman he loves before she marries the wrong man.
Marking his theatre debut, Gyllenhaal appeared on the London stage with a starring role in Kenneth Lonergan's revival of This Is Our Youth. The play, which had been a critical sensation on Broadway, ran for eight weeks in London's West End. For his role, Gyllenhaal received an Evening Standard Theatre Award in the category of "Outstanding Newcomer."
Gyllenhaal's performance in Jarhead (2005) came as a surprise to critics and fans alike. Gyllenhaal played against type, displaying a markedly hostile masculinity as a violent Marine Corps soldier during Gulf War I, while balancing this with the sensitive, vulnerable qualities of the lead character.
Brokeback Mountain (2005), which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, won the coveted Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival 2005. When asked of his thoughts on playing a character who falls in love with another man, Gyllenhaal showed comfort with his own same-sex attractions by openly stating every man goes through a period of questioning attractions for other men. However, he later told Details magazine, "I'm open to whatever people want to call me. I've never really been attracted to men sexually, but I don't think I would be afraid of it if it happened."
Gyllenhaal has an "on-again, off-again" relationship with actress Kirsten Dunst. The two lived together briefly, but continue to appear together in public. Jake is friends with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, and the two have known each other since kindergarten. He has a German Shepherd named "Atticus" and a Puggle named "Boo Radley", named after characters from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Fans of Gyllenhaal refer to themselves as "Gyllenhaalics".
|2005||Brokeback Mountain||Jack Twist||In theatres|
|2005||Jarhead||Anthony Swofford ("Swoff")||In theatres|
|2004||The Day After Tomorrow||Sam Hall|
|2002||Moonlight Mile||Joe Nast|
|2002||The Good Girl||Holden Worther|
|2001||Donnie Darko||Donnie Darko|
|2001||Bubble Boy||Jimmy Livingston|
|1999||October Sky||Homer Hickam|
- I Heart Jake Newspaper (subsection of fansite iheartjake.com) comprehensive, up-to-date collection of Jake Gyllenhaal-based news, interviews and media reports
- A timeline of his life
- Fan site
- Article on Jake Gyllenhaal fashion sense
- Jake Gyllenhaal at the Internet Movie Databasede:Jake Gyllenhaal