Jake Gyllenhaal was born in 1980, six days before Christmas, to director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner. Their Los Angeles home was, unsurprisingly, a hothouse of precocious creativity. Sister Maggie, who is three years his elder, directed the junior thesp in a household production of Cats and went on to become a respected actress in her own right. By the age of 11 Jake had left behind the Gyllenhaal clan theatre for a real-life film set, playing Billy Crystal's son in City Slickers. Despite his father's admonition not to plump for films over college, the talented youngster popped up again in the 1999 flick October Sky, a crowd-pleasing tale about a young boy obsessed with rocket science. Eventually he made it to Colombia University where he studied Eastern Religions under Uma Thurman's father Robert - an acknowledged expert in the area - but dropped out after two years to join the audition circuit.
Jake Gyllenhaal's acting career
Jake's breakthrough role came in the form of indie cult hit Donnie Darko, in which his sister also stars.
From there, he went on to feature in the 2004 science fiction disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, before finding himself in a small riverside trailer camp in the wilds of Alberta, Canada, shooting Brokeback Mountain - Ang Lee's story of homosexual cowboy romance, with Australian hunk Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams. The trio of actors came away with some firm friendships and, in the case of the Aussie star and Montana-born Michelle, a lasting love that shortly after produced Jake's godchild, the couple's daughter Matilda. The young actor's rapport with Heath shone through helping the film net a haul of awards including four Golden Globes, four BAFTAs and three Oscars. Jake also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Jake has since enjoyed an impressive career in Hollywood, starring in films such as Zodiac, Love & Other Drugs, Zodiac, Prisoners and Spider-Man: Far From Home. The actor received BAFTA nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performances in 2014's Nightcrawler and 2016's Nocturnal Animals.
Jake Gyllenhaal's personal life
Once named one of People magazine's hottest bachelors he's inevitably notched up some talked-about romances, having been linked to Natalie Portman and Spiderman actress Kirsten Dunst, whom he dated for two years.
The actor was in a relationship with his Rendition co-star Reese Witherspoon from 2007 until 2009, before going on to date popstar Taylor Swift for a few months. He was later linked to model Alyssa Miller.
In late 2018, he began dating French model Jeanne Cadieu.