Jake Gyllenhaal Is an 'Incredible Uncle' to Maggie's Girls

09/21/2012 at 01:30 PM EDT

While Jake Gyllenhaal has no children of his own just yet, he says being a doting uncle to his sister Maggie's two daughters, Ramona, 6 and Gloria Ray, born in April, has helped him to better "navigate the world of sibling stuff."

Watching the young girls discover their sibling relationships, Gyllenhaal, 31, says, shines a light on the competitiveness he experienced growing up with older sister Maggie, 34, who wed actor Peter Sarsgaard in 2009, the actor tells Anderson Cooper in an interview Friday.

Gyllenhaal, who is currently starring in the police drama End of Watch, confided to Anderson Cooper in a segment of his talk show, Anderson Live, that he and Maggie are hard on each other. But they're also supportive, he says, especially when it comes to talking about their work as actors.

He calls the nieces "extraordinary," and "the best thing that happened to my family probably ever," noting he loves his new role and is trying hard to be the best uncle possible.

"It's a similar dynamic between me and my sister to this day," he says. "I think we are each other's toughest critics, but we also, I think, love each other's work more than anyone else."

"Even at this age, my older niece will come up to her [sister] and joke to her, and she'll laugh and then she'll run away and she starts to cry," says Gyllenhaal.

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