Wow, we’re approaching our Top3 Actors and Top3 Actresses on our list of the 20 to Watch Until They’re 35, and considering Prince of Persia has just opened to worldwide audiences this weekend, I’d figure there’s no better time to name Jake Gyllenhaal as #3.
Born in Los Angeles, California on December 19th 1980, this 29-year-old actor shot to fame playing Jack Twist on Ang Lee’s award-winning Brokeback Mountain, opposite Heath Ledger, and fellows the 20 to Watch Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway, earning himself nominations for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, the Screen Actors Guild, and several critic circles, as well as a win at the BAFTAs. He is also known for playing Donnie Darko on the cult hit by the same name, and can be currently seen on screens playing Prince Dastan on the live-action adaptation of the Prince of Persia video game called Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Gyllenhaal comes from a talented family, with his father director Stephen Gyllenhaal, his mother Oscar-nominated screenwriter Naomi Foner, and older sister Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal… so you can say he had no other choice than to be an actor… or better yet a “movie star”.
He started acting in the early 90s with small roles, and by the late 90s he already landed the lead on October Sky with Chris Cooper and Laura Dern, which was received well as a family film, and earned Gyllenhaal nominations for Breakthrough Performer. However, he followed that up with films like the off-beat Bubble Boy, and Lovely & Amazing with Emily Mortimer and Catherine Keener… but it wasn’t until the independent film Donnie Darko saw the light of day early 2002, and many years later became a cult hit on DVD that that he started to get noticed.
He starred in a series of rather small films alongside Jennifer Aniston, Zooey Deschanel, Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman, and Holly Hunter. Finally, in 2004, Gyllenhaal would get the chance to work on his first big blockbuster at the helm of Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) on The Day After Tomorrow alongside Dennis Quaid, Sela Ward, and Ian Holm. It was during that summer that he began working on Brokeback Mountain, a role that would change his life forever.
Suddenly, Gyllenhaal was an Academy Award nominee, and continued his work as a “proper” actor with roles on a more broad variety of films from Proof with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, and Jarhead by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) with Peter Sarsgaard (who ended up marrying his sister Maggie), and Jamie Foxx, as well as Zodiac by David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) with Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, and Chloë Sevigny, and Rendition by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) with Reese Witherspoon in 2007.
By that time, Gyllenhaal decided to take a break from acting, until 2009 when the film Brothers, based from the Danish film of the same name, and directed by Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, In America) opposite Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire. This year, he’s returned to the blockbuster genre with his very own possible franchise by playing Prince Dastan in Disney’s adaptation of Prince of Persia.
What’s coming up for him? How about Nailed a wacky comedy by David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, which is also pretty wacky), as well as Love and Other Drugs by Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) with Anne Hathway, Judy Greer, Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt, and Source Code by Duncan Jones (Moon) with Vera Farmiga.
Yeah, those three (plus a few other rumored projects) and we’re happy with the next five years. Plus, Gyllenhaal has all the makings of a true movie star. We can’t even help smiling when he’s interviewed.