Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal is an American actor and film producer. Born into the Gyllenhaal family, he is the son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner.
He began acting as a child, making his acting debut in City Slickers, followed by roles in his father’s films A Dangerous Woman and Homegrown.
- Born: 19 December 1980, Los Angeles, California, United States
- Full name: Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal
- Height: 1.82 m
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Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal was born on December 19, 1980 in Los Angeles, California, the son of film producer and screenwriter Naomi Foner (née Achs) and film director Stephen Gyllenhaal.
Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, his older sister, appeared with him in the film Donnie Darko. Gyllenhaal’s father, who was raised as a Swedenborgian, is of Swedish and English descent and is a descendant of the Swedish noble Gyllenhaal family.
Jake’s last ancestor to be born in Sweden was his great-great-grandfather, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal.
Jake’s mother is Jewish and was born in New York City to a Jewish family from Russia and Poland.
Gyllenhaal has said that he considers himself Jewish. On his 13th birthday, Gyllenhaal performed a “barmitzvah-like act, without the typical trappings”, volunteering at a homeless shelter because his parents wanted to give him a sense of gratitude for his privileged lifestyle.
His parents insisted that he have summer jobs to support himself, and he thus worked as a lifeguard and as a busboy at a restaurant operated by a family friend.
Gyllenhaal said his parents encouraged artistic expression: “I do have parents who constantly supported me in certain ways. In other ways, they were lacking. Definitely, it’s in expression and creativity where my family has always been best at.”
At the age of eleven, Gyllenhaal made his movie debut in the comedy-drama City Slickers (1991), playing Billy Crystal’s character’s son.
He made an impact in various films in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in films such as the period drama October Sky (1999), his breakthrough performance, and as the title role in the psychological thriller Donnie Darko (2001), for which he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor, playing a psychologically troubled teenager.
He followed this with roles encompassing many different genres, including the comedy film, the Disney romantic comedy Bubble Boy (2001); opposite Jennifer Aniston in another Sundance favorite, The Good Girl (2002), as a young man grieving the death of his fiancée in Moonlight Mile (2002), and in the science fiction blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow (2004), portraying a student caught in a cataclysmic climate event, opposite Dennis Quaid.
Making his theater debut, Gyllenhaal appeared on the London stage with a starring role in Kenneth Lonergan’s revival of “This Is Our Youth”. The play was widely-received and played for eight weeks in London’s West End.
Gyllenhaal followed his successful theater en devour with a role in Jarhead (2005), playing Anthony “Swoff” Swofford, an aggressive and masculine but equally vulnerable and sensitive Marine during the Gulf War, and Proof (2005), as Gwyneth Paltrow’s love interest.
However, it was his follow-up performance that won critical acclaim in Brokeback Mountain (2005), in which he co-starred with Australian actor Heath Ledger, as sheep herders who fall in love in the 1960s and depicts their relationship over the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s.
For his role as Jack Twist, Gyllenhaal received critical acclaim and won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Since then, he has acted in a wide range of movies, ranging from the critically-acclaimed thriller, Zodiac (2007), the drama Brothers (2009), playing opposite Tobey Maguire as the title siblings, in the action adventure film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), sporting a bulked-up physique, and the box office hit, Love & Other Drugs (2010), in which he teamed up with Anne Hathaway, once again, and for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
In the 2010s, Gyllenhaal starred in several major films for which he received significant critical acclaim: science fiction thriller Source Code (2011), police drama End of Watch (2012), mystery Prisoners (2013), dark media satire Nightcrawler (2014), the boxing drama Southpaw (2015), and the dramedy Demolition (2015).
For Nightcrawler, he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.