Jacob Benjamin "Jake" Gyllenhaal (born December 19, 1980) is an American actor. The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, Gyllenhaal began acting at age ten.
He has appeared in diverse roles since his first lead role in 1999's October Sky, followed by the 2001 indie cult hit Donnie Darko, in which he played a psychologically troubled teen and onscreen brother to his real-life sister, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. In the 2004 science-fiction film The Day After Tomorrow he portrayed a student caught in a cataclysmic global cooling event, alongside Dennis Quaid as his father. He then played against type as a frustrated Marine in Jarhead (2005).
The same year, he garnered critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination as Jack Twist in the film Brokeback Mountain opposite Heath Ledger.
Gyllenhaal has promoted various political and social causes. He appeared in Rock the Vote advertising, campaigned for the Democratic Party in the 2004 election, promoted environmental causes, and campaigned on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, Gyllenhaal's immediate family includes his sister, actress Maggie, who is married to actor Peter Sarsgaard, Gyllenhaal's co-star in Jarhead and Rendition. In December, 2006, Jake and his sister escaped a fire that destroyed Manka's, a famed lodge and restaurant in Inverness, California, at which they were vacationing.
Gyllenhaal's niece, Ramona Sarsgaard, was born on October 3, 2006. Jamie Lee Curtis is Gyllenhaal's godmother, and he has repeatedly referred to his godfathers being a gay couple. Gyllenhaal himself is the godfather of Matilda Rose Ledger (born October 28, 2005), daughter of Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, both of whom co-starred with him in Brokeback Mountain. His uncle, Anders Gyllenhaal, is the executive editor of The Miami Herald. His late uncle is filmmaker Robert Achs.
Gyllenhaal dated actress Kirsten Dunst for nearly two years starting in 2002.
Gyllenhaal dated his Rendition co-star Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon confirmed the relationship, about which the media had speculated since early 2007, in an interview for the November 2008 issue of Vogue. The couple split in November 2009, but the report was jointly denied by Witherspoon and Gyllenhaal's publicists, who declared that "they are still together." However, weeks later, a report in Us Weekly stated that the couple had split.
In late 2010, Gyllenhaal briefly dated country singer Taylor Swift. They split in early 2011.
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