Who Is Jake Gyllenhaal?

Born on December 19, 1980, in Los Angeles, California, Jake Gyllenhaal worked as a child actor in films like City Slickers and A Dangerous Woman before starring in the indie classic Donnie Darko in 2001. He later starred opposite Heath Ledger in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, for which Gyllenhaal received a supporting actor Oscar nomination. Other projects on the Gyllenhaal roster include the films Proof, Jarhead, Prisoners and Nightcrawler, as well as the Broadway production Constellations.

Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal

Early Life & Famous Sister

Actor Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal, better known as Jake Gyllenhaal, was born on December 19, 1980, in Los Angeles, California. The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and producer/screenwriter Naomi Foner, Jake and his sister Maggie have been acting since childhood. Some of Gyllenhaal's earlier films included City Slickers (1991), in which he played Billy Crystal's son, and A Dangerous Woman (1993), directed by his father. The young Gyllenhaal graduated from Los Angeles' Harvard-Westlake High School and studied for a year at Columbia University in New York before dropping out to pursue acting.


'October Sky,' 'Donnie Darko'

In order to make the transformation from child to adult actor, Gyllenhaal purposefully passed over teen fare for such films as October Sky (1999) and Donnie Darko (2001), co-starring Drew Barrymore and sister Maggie, for which he earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination. Several of the roles that followed echoed former projects in complexity: Gyllenhaal played Jennifer Aniston's troubled love interest in The Good Girl (2002), while in Moonlight Mile (2002), the actor portrayed a young man grieving over the death of his fiancee along with her family.

In spring 2002, Gyllenhaal also starred on the London stage in Kenneth Lonergan's revival of This Is Our Youth. The actor received an Evening Standard Theater Award for his portrayal.

Oscar Nomination for 'Brokeback Mountain'

Gyllenhaal was part of the ensemble cast of the 2004 worldwide blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow before starring in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005), a love story of two cowboys who fall in love with each other. Co-starring Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway, the film earned Gyllenhaal a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination in addition to winning him the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

'Jarhead,' 'Zodiac,' 'Source Code,' 'Prisoners'

Gyllenhaal starred in film dramas like Jarhead (2005), Zodiac (2007) and Brothers (2009) — all with military or government/espionage themes — before taking on an action/fantasy hero lead role in 2010's hugely budgeted Prince of Persia. The romantic comedy Love & Other Drugs was released later that year, re-teaming Gyllenhaal with Brokeback co-star Hathaway and also earning the actor his first Golden Globe nomination. The thriller Source Code followed in 2011. Gyllenhaal then starred as a police officer in End of Watch (2012), shot in gonzo-camera style, and as a detective in the shadowy drama Prisoners (2013), co-starring Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard.

'Nightcrawler,' 'Nocturnal Animals,' 'Constellations'

In fall 2014, Gyllenhaal once again earned buzz for his role in Nightcrawler, a stark drama in which he played an on-the-precipice cameraman looking to become successful via harrowing crime footage. Gyllenhaal earned his second Golden Globe acting nod for the part along with BAFTA and SAG Awards nominations.

Film projects for 2015 included the romantic comedy Accidental Love, the boxing drama Southpaw, the biopic adventure Everest — based on the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest — and the drama Demolition. In 2016 he starred in Tom Ford's psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals, opposite Amy Adams.

In January 2015, Gyllenhaal made his Broadway debut in Constellations opposite actress Ruth Wilson, a play which fused ideas around cosmology and relationships. In 2017, he returned to Broadway playing French artist Georges Seurat in a revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical Sunday in the Park with George.

'Stronger,' 'The Sisters Brothers,' 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'

Back on the big screen, Gyllenhaal starred in Stronger (2017), based on the memoir of a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, and featured prominently in the comedy western The Sisters Brothers (2018). The following year, he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the villain Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Personal Life

As of 2019, Gyllenhaal was reported to be in a relationship with French model Jeanne Cadieu. He was previously involved with other celebrities like actresses Kirsten Dunst and Reese Witherspoon and pop star Taylor Swift.

Related Videos


  • Birth Year: 1980
  • Birth date: December 19, 1980
  • Birth State: California
  • Birth City: Los Angeles
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Jake Gyllenhaal is an Oscar-nominated actor known for his work in films like 'Donnie Darko,' 'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Prisoners' and 'Nightcrawler.'
  • Industries
    • Television
    • Film
  • Astrological Sign: Sagittarius

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right,contact us!


  • Article Title: Jake Gyllenhaal Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/jake-gyllenhaal
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: August 27, 2019
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014


  • I never would have thought the movie ['Brokeback Mountain'] would have gotten the response that it did. It was a life-changing story, and career changing for all of us. It was inexplicable.
  • I think that more and more there's a sense that the best performances I can give are the ones that are the truest to who I am. The further I move away from who I am, the worse they are.
  • I don’t really believe in nightmares. I don’t believe the things that scare us are in our dreams. I think they are us communicating with ourselves. Even if I’m scared, I think they are helpful sometimes.