Son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner. Younger brother of Maggie Gyllenhaal. His godmother is Jamie Lee Curtis and godfather is cinematographer, Robert Elswit.
Graduated from Harvard-Westlake School in June 1998.
Jake's father has English, Swedish, Swiss-German, German, and distant Welsh and French, ancestry. Jake's mother's family is Jewish (from Poland and Latvia).
His fans refer to themselves as "Gyllenhaalics".
He was awarded the 2002 London Evening Standard Theate Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performance in This is Our Youth at the Garrick Theatre in London, England.
Was set to play Spider-Man in Spider-Man 2 (2004) due to Tobey Maguire having injured his back while filming Seabiscuit. While Gyllenhaal was preparing for the role, Tobey recovered to reprise his role as Spider-Man.
Attended high school with Freaks and Geeks (1999) star Jason Segel and Ayda Field.
Was named one of People Magazine's 50 Hottest Bachelors .
Is close friends with Natalie Portman and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Went to elementary school with band members of Maroon 5.
On Phantom Planet's album "The Guest", lead singer Alex Greenwald lists him in his thank yous. Alex appeared with Jake in Donnie Darko (2001).
His favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, and he has two dogs, Atticus and Boo named after characters in the novel.
Auditioned for and was one of the top contenders for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins (2005).
Before success as an actor, he worked as a lifeguard. He never had any life-saving incidents, but did perform one lesser rescue. A swimmer had been stung on the leg by a jellyfish, and Gyllenhaal helped relieve the pain of the stings by urinating on the swimmer's leg.
Although they broke up in July 2004, he and Kirsten Dunst had an on and off relationship up until 2006.
Gained five pounds of muscle for his role in Jarhead (2005).
When asked who his idols are he said Anthony Quinn, Paul Newman, Sean Penn, Bruce Springsteen and Bono.
Spent two years at Columbia University, where one of his professors was Robert Thurman, Uma Thurman's father.
Godfather of Matilda Ledger, born October 28, 2005 (daughter of actor Heath Ledger and actress Michelle Williams.
Was among the guests at Jessica Simpson's 25th birthday party.
He gave Kirsten Dunst a gray and white kitten for her birthday. She named the cat Sophie.
Ranked #48 on Premiere's 2006 "Power 50" list. It is his first appearance on the list.
His first four big roles were in movies with alliterated titles: Bubble Boy (2001), Donnie Darko (2001), Moonlight Mile (2002), The Good Girl (2002).
Invited to join AMPAS in 2006.
Studied acting with Ivana Chubbuck.
Along with sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, he attended Camp Walt Whitman, an outdoors summer camp in Western New Hampshire.
Uncle of Ramona Sarsgaard, born October 3, 2006. She is the daughter of his older sister Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard.
His uncle, Anders Gyllenhaal, is senior vice president and executive editor of The Miami Herald in Miami, Florida.
Is good friends with Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey.
Like all Gyllenhaals on the male line, he is a Swedish nobleman by birth right and is listed in the Swedish Almanac of Nobility ("Sveriges ridderskaps- och adelskalender" in Swedish).
Campaigned for the Democrats in the 2004 US election.
As of 2014, has starred in three movies where he played not only a real person, but the person who wrote the book upon which the film was based: Homer H. Hickam Jr. (October Sky (1999)), Anthony Swofford (Jarhead (2005)) and Robert Graysmith (Zodiac (2007)).
Voted #10 in Elle (France) Magazine's "15 Sexiest Men" poll (June 2007).
Had his Bar Mitzvah party at a homeless shelter, something his parents encouraged to help him recognize how privileged his own childhood had been (a Bar Mitzvah is the coming-of-age service that Jewish boys celebrate at age 13).
He appeared on the 1994 Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) episode, Homicide: Life on the Street: Bop Gun (1994), which was directed by his father, Stephen Gyllenhaal.
Was personally approved by Joe Namath to play the football legend in a proposed biopic about the latter's life.
Was ranked #8 on Entertainment Weekly's '30 Under 30' the actors list. (2008).
Very good friends with actress Jennifer Aniston.
Brother-in-law of Peter Sarsgaard.
He and sister Maggie Gyllenhaal are the first siblings to be Oscar-nominated for acting in the 21st century.
Parents Stephen Gyllenhaal and Naomi Foner divorced in 2009.
Had a childhood crush on Martha Plimpton. He met her when she appeared in Running on Empty (1988), which was written by Jake's mother Naomi Foner.
Appeared on the cover of GQ magazine three times: June '04, February '07 and May '10.
Was, along with Matt Damon, the studio's first choice for the role of Jake Sully in Avatar (2009), but director James Cameron chose to cast the (back then) more unknown Sam Worthington in the lead role instead.
Received his first driving lesson from his godfather, Paul Newman.
Became good friends with Austin Nichols while filming The Day After Tomorrow (2004).
His parents forbade him to be in The Mighty Ducks (1992), as the film would have taken him out of town for two months (it was shot in Minnesota).
Auditioned for the role of Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but lost out to Elijah Wood.
Introduced his friend Michelle Williams's film My Week with Marilyn (2011) at the 69th Golden Globe Awards [January 15, 2012].
Gyllenhaal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Marion Cotillard, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Daniel Brühl are the only actors to receive a Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Critics' Choice Award nominations for the same performance and then fail to be Oscar-nominated for it: for their performances in Nightcrawler (2014), The Departed (2006), We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), Rust and Bone (2012), Saving Mr. Banks (2013), Captain Phillips (2013) and Rush (2013), respectively.
Is a fan of Marion Cotillard and presented her the Best Actress award (for The Immigrant (2013) and Two Days, One Night (2014)) at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards on January 5, 2015, calling himself a fan of her work and saying of her career, "I can't think of a better word to use than spectacular".
Jake's mentor is Chris Cooper, with whom he has co-starred in three films: October Sky (1999), Jarhead (2005), and Demolition (2015).
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2012.