Jacob Benjamin “Jake” Gyllenhaal is an American actor. The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, Gyllenhaal began acting at the age of ten. Maggie Gyllenhaal, his older sister and also an actress, appeared with Jake in the movie Donnie Darko. Jake’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 mother is from a Jewish family from New York City, and Jake has said that he considers himself Jewish. On his 13th birthday, he performed a “bar mitzvah-like act, without the typical trappings”, volunteering at a homeless shelter, because his parents wanted to instill in 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.
As a child, Jake was regularly exposed to filmmaking due to his family’s deep ties to the industry. He made his acting debut as Billy Crystal’s son in the 1991 comedy film City Slickers. 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 films several times. Jake appeared in the 1993 film A Dangerous Woman (along with sister Maggie); in “Bop Gun” a 1994 episode of Homicide: Life on the Street; and in the 1998 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 film not directed by his father, in which Jake was allowed to perform, was the 1993 film Josh and S.A.M., a little-known children’s adventure.
He graduated from the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles in 1998, then attended Columbia Universityto study Eastern religions and philosophy. Jake dropped out after two years to concentrate on acting, but has expressed intentions to eventually finish his degree. His first lead role was in October Sky, Joe Johnston’s 1999 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 film earned $32 million and was described in the Sacramento News and Review as Jake’s “breakout performance.”
One of the more notorious films Jake is known for is his part in the movie Brokeback Mountain. Jake was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film.
In his spare time, Jake 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. For more of Jake’s bio, click HERE!
Let’s lift up Jake in prayer this week! Pray that God will draw him to a realization of the truth of the Gospel, who God is and his own need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!