Jake Gyllenhaal: Snapshot

Jake Gyllenhaal
Date of Birth
December 19, 1980
Birth Place
Los Angeles, Calif.
With a director father, screenwriter mother, actress sister and family friends like Paul Newman to give him driving lessons, it's hardly surprising that Jake Gyllenhaal chose to pursue a career in Hollywood.

As a teen, he put his doe-eyed gaze to use portraying brooding adolescents in Donnie Darko, The Good Girl and the global-warming blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow. But it was Ang Lee's 2005 drama, Brokeback Mountain, where Gyllenhaal played a cowboy in love with another man, that earned him and the late Heath Ledger their first Oscar nominations.

Gyllenhaal, who previously found love with actresses Kirsten Dunst and Reese Witherspoon, continues to connect with audiences in films like Love & Other Drugs and Source Code.

Jake Gyllenhaal: Five Fun Facts

  1. Family friend Paul Newman gave teenage Jake Gyllenhaal driving lessons on a racetrack.
  2. While Jake Gyllenhaal's legions of smitten fans call themselves "Gyllenhaalics", he has his own celebrity crushes. "I had a model phase, then a thing for Alyssa Milano and Christina Applegate," Gyllenhaal told In Style in 2001. "But I was in love with Martha Plimpton."
  3. According to Premiere, Jake Gyllenhaal's parents discouraged him from being in 1992's The Mighty Ducks because it would have taken him away from home for two months.
  4. Jake Gyllenhaal doesn't just act with big sister Maggie, he studies with her. During his freshman year at Columbia University, he took Tibetan philosophy and civilization with Maggie, a class taught by Professor Robert Thurman, Uma's father.
  5. In his teens, Jake Gyllenhaal worked as a lifeguard on Martha's Vineyard: "Someone got stung by a jellyfish and I peed on their leg to counteract the sting," he told PEOPLE. "Otherwise it was pretty tame. Occasionally I'd pick up the lifeguard buoy and run down the beach, Baywatch-style, like something was actually happening."

Jake Gyllenhaal: Biography


Jake Gyllenhaal

June 07

City Boy

At 11, Gyllenhaal gets his first taste of the big screen with a small role as Billy Crystal's son, Danny, in the summer hit City Slickers. The movie grabs more than $124 million at the domestic box office.


Jake Gyllenhaal

August 24

First Flop

Gyllenhaal stars in the comedy Bubble Boy about a teen with a deficient immune system. Although the film is a commercial flop, earning just over $5 million, Gyllenhaal never regrets starring in the film. "Know what's interesting about that movie? The result just wasn't the process. The process of that movie was wonderful!" he tells GQ in 2007. "A lot of people talk about other movies I've done as being very courageous – but I want to go to more places with that intention. To me, that's a success."

Jake Gyllenhaal

October 26

Becoming a Cult Hero

Gyllenhaal stars in Donnie Darko. His portrayal of a sullen, schizophrenic teenager who hears voices in his head from a man-size rabbit with a twisted-mask, makes him a cult superhero. Although the film flops at the box-office, it becomes "the trippy underground hit of a generation," according to Entertainment Weekly. "Every day someone comes up and is like, 'Donnie Darko man...f---! We gotta talk about it,'" he tells EW.

Read More on Jake Gyllenhaal's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Henny Garfunkel/Retna

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): CASTLE ROCK; touchstone; Kobal Collection/Wireimage

Edited by Julia Wang

Jake Gyllenhaal

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