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Biography for Jake GyllenhaalJacob Benjamin "Jake" Gyllenhaal (born dec. 19, 1980 (33 years ago)) is an American actor. The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, Gyllenhaal began acting at age ten. He has appeared in diverse roles since his first lead role in 1999's Oct. Sky, followed by the 2001 (12 years ago) indie cult hit Donnie Darko, in which he played a psychologically troubled teen and onscreen brother to his real-life sister, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. In the 2004 (9 years ago) blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow (8 walls) he portrayed a student caught in a cataclysmic global cooling event, alongside Dennis Quaid as his father. He then played against type as a frustrated Marine in Jarhead (2005, 8 years ago). The same year, he won critical acclaim as Jack Twist in the movie Brokeback Mountain opposite Heath Ledger.
Gyllenhaal has become an activist, promoting various political and social causes. He appeared in Rock the Vote advertising, campaigned for the Democratic Party in the 2004 (9 years ago) election, and promoted environmental causes and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Early lifeGyllenhaal was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of movie director Stephen Gyllenhaal and movie producer and screenwriter Naomi Foner (née Achs). Maggie Gyllenhaal, his sister, is also an actress, and played his sister in the movie Donnie Darko. Gyllenhaal's father was raised in the Swedenborgian religion and is a descendant of the Swedish noble Gyllenhaal family. His last native Swedish ancestor was his great-great-grandfather, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal's mother is from a Jewish family from New York City. Gyllenhaal's Bar Mitzvah celebration took place at a homeless shelter because his parents wanted to instill in him a sense of gratitude for his privileged lifestyle. Gyllenhaal has said that he considers himself "more Jewish than anything else." Gyllenhaal's parents insisted that he have summer jobs to support himself. He worked as a lifeguard, and as a busboy at a restaurant operated by a family friend.
FamilyThe son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, Gyllenhaal's immediate family includes his sister, actress Maggie, who is married to actor Peter Sarsgaard, Gyllenhaal's co-star in Jarhead and Rendition. In December, 2006 (7 years ago), Jake and his sister escaped a fire that destroyed Manka's, a famed lodge and restaurant in Inverness, California, at which they were vacationing. Gyllenhaal's niece, Ramona Sarsgaard, was born on Oct. 3, 2006 (7 years ago). Jamie Lee Curtis is Gyllenhaal's godmother, and he has repeatedly referred to his godfathers being a gay couple. Gyllenhaal himself is the godfather of Matilda Rose Ledger (born Oct. 28, 2005 (8 years ago)), daughter of Heath Ledger (5 walls) and Michelle Williams (4 walls), both of whom co-starred with him in Brokeback Mountain. His uncle, Anders Gyllenhaal, is the executive editor of The Miami Herald. His late uncle is filmmaker Robert Achs.
Gyllenhaal is currently dating his Rendition co-star, Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon confirmed the relationship, about which the media has speculated since early 2007 (6 years ago), in an interview for the Nov. 2008 (5 years ago) issue of Vogue.
Politics and other interestsGyllenhaal is politically active. He shot a commercial for Rock the Vote, and along with his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal, visited the University of Southern California to encourage students to vote during the 2004 (9 years ago) U.S. Election. He also campaigned for Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry. He has said, however, that "it frustrates me when actors talk politics; I'm political and I make choices in my movies that I think are political. I try and say things with what I do. Rightly or wrongly, young actors have all the power." In an interview for Rendition, he stated his view that "it's a sad time when actors are politicians and politicians are actors".
Raised in a family concerned with social issues, Gyllenhaal has campaigned on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization which his entire family strongly supports. Environmentally conscious, he recycles regularly, and said in an interview that he spends $400 a year to have trees planted in a Mozambique forest, partly to promote the Future Forests program. After filming The Day After Tomorrow (8 walls), he flew to the Arctic to promote awareness of climate change.
In his spare time, Gyllenhaal enjoys woodworking and cooking. He has said, "I am not a card-carrying Buddhist, but I do try to practice mindfulness" and it is his goal to meditate every day.
Early careerDuring childhood, Gyllenhaal had regular exposure to filmmaking due to his family's deep ties to the industry. As an 11-year-old he made his acting debut as Billy Crystal's son in the 1991 (22 years ago) comedy movie City Slickers. His parents did not allow him to appear in the 1992 (21 years ago) movie The Mighty Ducks because it would have required him leaving home for two months. In subsequent years, his parents allowed him to audition for parts, but regularly forbade him to take them if he were chosen. He was allowed to appear in his father's movies several times. Gyllenhaal appeared in the 1993 (20 years ago) movie A Dangerous Woman (along with sister Maggie); in "Bop Gun" a 1994 (19 years ago) episode of Homicide: Life on the Street; and in the 1998 (15 years ago) comedy Homegrown. Along with their mother, Jake and Maggie appeared in two episodes of Molto Mario, an Italian cooking show on the Food Network. Prior to his senior year in high school, the only other movie not directed by his father in which Gyllenhaal was allowed to perform was the 1993 (20 years ago) movie Josh and S.A.M., a little-known children's adventure.
Gyllenhaal graduated from the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles in 1998 (15 years ago), then attended Columbia University, where his sister was a senior and from which his mother had graduated, to study Eastern religions and philosophy. Gyllenhaal dropped out after two years to concentrate on acting, but has expressed intentions to eventually finish his degree. Gyllenhaal's first lead role was in Oct. Sky, Joe Johnston's 1999 (14 years ago) adaptation of the Homer Hickam autobiography Rocket Boys, in which he portrayed a young man from West Virginia striving to win a science scholarship to avoid becoming a coal miner. The movie earned $32 million and was described in the Sacramento News and Review as Gyllenhaal's "breakout performance."
From Donnie Darko to the London stageDonnie Darko, Gyllenhaal's second major film, was not a box office success upon its initial 2001 (12 years ago) release, but eventually became a cult favorite. The film, directed by Richard Kelly, is set in 1988 (25 years ago) and stars Gyllenhaal as a troubled teenager who, after narrowly escaping death, experiences visions of a 6 foot (1.8 m) tall rabbit named Frank who tells him that the world is coming to an end. Gyllenhaal's performance was well-received by critics; Gary Mairs of culturevulture.net claimed that "Gyllenhaal manages the difficult trick of seeming both blandly normal and profoundly disturbed, often within the same scene."
After the critical success of Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal's next role was as the lead character in 2002's Highway, a movie ignored by audiences and critics alike. His performance was described by one critic as "silly, cliched and straight to video." Gyllenhaal had more success starring opposite Jennifer Aniston (39 walls) in The Good Girl, which premiered at the 2002 (11 years ago) Sundance movie Festival; he also starred in Lovely & Amazing with Catherine Keener. In both movies he plays an unstable character who begins a reckless affair with an older woman. Gyllenhaal later described these as "teenager in transition" roles. Gyllenhaal later starred in the Touchstone pictures (wallpaper) romantic comedy Bubble Boy, which was loosely based on the story of David Vetter. The movie portrays the title character's adventures as he pursues the love of his life before she marries the wrong man. The movie was panned by critics, with one calling it an "empty-headed, chaotic, utterly tasteless atrocity".
Following Bubble Boy, Gyllenhaal starred opposite Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon and Ellen Pompeo in Moonlight Mile, as a young man coping with the death of his fiancée and the grief of her parents. The story, which received mixed reviews, is loosely based on writer/director Brad Silberling's personal experiences following the murder of girlfriend Rebecca Schaeffer.
Gyllenhaal was almost cast as Spider-Man for Spider-Man 2 due to director Sam Raimi's concerns about original Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire`s health. Maguire recovered, however, and the sequel was shot without Gyllenhaal. Instead, Gyllenhaal starred in the blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow (8 walls) in 2004 (9 years ago), co-starring Dennis Quaid as his father.
In his theatrical debut Gyllenhaal starred on the London stage in Kenneth Lonergan's revival of This is Our Youth. Gyllenhaal said, "Every actor I look up to has done theatre work, so I knew I had to give it a try." The play, which had been a critical sensation on Broadway, ran for eight weeks in London's West End. Gyllenhaal received favorable critical reviews and an Evening Standard Theatre Award in the category "Outstanding Newcomer."
Brokeback Mountain and after2005 was a prolific year for Gyllenhaal, who starred in the critically praised movies Proof, Jarhead, and Brokeback Mountain. In Proof, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow (6 walls) and Anthony Hopkins, Gyllenhaal played a graduate student in mathematics who tries to convince Paltrow's character to publish a revolutionary proof to a problem puzzling the mathematicians' community. In Jarhead, Gyllenhaal played against his usual "sensitive yet disturbed" type by displaying an aggressive masculinity as a violent U.S. Marine during the first Gulf War. He also auditioned to be Batman for one of the biggest blockbusters Batman Begins and came close to getting the role but Christian Bale was ultimately chosen for it.
In Brokeback Mountain, Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger (5 walls) play young men who meet as sheep herders and embark upon a sexual relationship that begins in the summer of 1963 (50 years ago) and continues until the death of Gyllenhaal's character in 1981 (32 years ago). The movie was often referred to in the media with the shorthand phrase "the gay cowboy movie," though there was differing opinion on the sexual orientation of the characters. The movie won the Golden Lion prize at the Venice movie Festival. The movie went on to win four Golden Globe Awards, four British Academy of movie and TV Arts (BAFTA) Awards, and three Academy Awards. Gyllenhaal was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his performance, but lost to George Clooney (5 walls) for Syriana. Gyllenhaal also won the Best Supporting Actor BAFTA for the same role and received a Best Supporting Actor nomination and Best movie Ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. Also for Brokeback Mountain, he and Ledger won an MTV Movie Award for "Best Kiss" in 2006 (7 years ago). Shortly after the 2006 (7 years ago) Academy Awards, Gyllenhaal was invited to join the Academy in recognition of his acting career. Most recently, Gyllenhaal was awarded the 2006 (7 years ago) Young Artist Award for Artistic Excellence by The Americans for the Arts National Arts Awards for his role.
Gyllenhaal expressed mixed feelings about the experience of being directed by Ang Lee in Brokeback Mountain, but generally had more praise than criticism for Lee's directing style. While complaining of the way Lee tended to disconnect with his actors once filming began, Gyllenhaal praised his encouraging direction of the actors and sensitive approach to the material. At the Directors Guild of America Awards on Jan. 28, 2006 (7 years ago), Gyllenhaal also praised Lee for "his humbleness and his respect for everyone around him."
When asked about his kissing scenes with Heath Ledger (5 walls) in Brokeback Mountain, Gyllenhaal said, "As an actor, I think we need to embrace the times we feel most uncomfortable." When asked about the more intimate scenes with Ledger, Gyllenhaal likened them to "doing a sex scene with a woman I'm not particularly attracted to." Following the release of Brokeback Mountain, rumors circulated regarding the actor's sexual orientation. When asked about such gossip during an interview, Gyllenhaal said:
“ You know it's flattering when there's a rumor that says I'm bisexual. It means I can play more kinds of roles. 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 attending the premiere of Proof in 2005 (8 years ago).Gyllenhaal narrated the 2005 (8 years ago) short animated movie The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, based on Mordicai Gerstein's book of the same name about Philippe Petit's famous stunt. In Jan. 2007 (6 years ago), as host of Saturday Night Live, he put on a sparkly evening dress and sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the musical Dreamgirls for his opening monologue, dedicating the song to his "unique fan base... the fans of Brokeback."
In 2007 (6 years ago), Gyllenhaal starred in David Fincher's Zodiac, which was based on a true story. He played Robert Graysmith, a San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist and author of two books about the Zodiac serial killer. Gyllenhaal starred opposite Meryl Streep, Alan Arkin, and Reese Witherspoon (11 walls) in the Oct. 2007 (6 years ago) release Rendition, a Gavin Hood-directed political thriller about the U.S. policy of extraordinary rendition. His next roles will be in Jim Sheridan's remake of Susanne Bier's 2004 (9 years ago) Danish language movie Brothers and Doug Liman's as yet untitled movie about the race for lunar colonization. He will also shoot 2009's Nailed in South Carolina, opposite Jessica Biel.
Internationally viewed as a sex symbol, Gyllenhaal was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2006 (7 years ago). He was also listed in People's "Hottest Bachelors of 2006". In response to mainstream press lists like these, thousands of gay and bisexual men were polled for the 2007 (6 years ago) and 2008 (5 years ago) "AfterElton.com Hot 100 List." Gyllenhaal was ranked at #1 in both consecutive years. He was ranked at #2 on the Gay Wired Magazine poll of male actors who have played gay characters in movies.
On the show Entourage, Gyllenhaal, though not featured on screen, was the replacement for Vincent Chase in Aquaman 2 after Chase was fired. This was likely a reference to Spider-Man 2, when Gyllenhaal almost replaced Tobey Maguire.
On May 20, 2008 (5 years ago) it was announced that Gyllenhaal will play the lead role in the movie adaptation of the video game Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Production has started and the movie has a current release date of May 28, 2010 (3 years ago).
Awards and nominations
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