Early Acting Career
During his childhood, Jake’s family was considerably related to the film industry. This helped him start his early career as an actor, appearing on his first film in the 90’s Comedy City Slickers. His career started developing as he auditioned to appear in more films, eventually getting a role for another early 90’s film The Mighty Ducks. However, his parents didn’t allow how to participate in the movie seeing as he would have to travel several months away from home. For the following years, Jake managed to get some very interesting roles, some of which his parent didn’t allow him to take. However, they did encourage him to keep auditioning so he would be familiar with the process.
His father Stephen Gyllenhaal produced several films in which Jake would be allowed to participate as an actor. By the time he was 18,Gyllenhall had appeared in several films and known TV shows such as the satiric show Homegrown.
After graduating from high-school and joining a university, he dropped his studies to focus on his career as an actor. In 1999, Jake obtained his first notable success in the film October Sky, where he had a main role.
Early 2000’s Career
Jacob appeared on the big screen in the 2001 film Donnie Drako. Despite not being a box-office buster, the film was considered very popular. His acting was praised by both critics and audiences; one of the critics stated:
“Gyllenhaal manages the difficult trick of seeming both blandly normal and profoundly disturbed, often within the same scene.”
After his notable success in Donnie Drako, Jake participated in the 2002 film Highway next to the known actor Jared Leto. His acting in the movie wasn’t considered as good as his previous one, and was in fact negatively criticized by certain audiences and critics. Through the years, Gyllenhaal demonstrated a natural talent for roles that involved instability and personality issues. He describes these roles as “teen in transition roles”. During these years, he demonstrated his ability to switch between moods and behavior several times within the same scene with no issue. Jake starred along other known celebrities during this period, including Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon during his participation in Moonlight Mile. He had the role of a man that has issues while handling the passing of his future wife and the emotional pain of her parents. The plot received varied critics, and Gyllenhaal’s performance was considered acceptable, but not outstanding. Jake expressed his comfort with the plot, which was partially based on the true story of the director, whose fiancée was murdered.
Jacob was close to making his first critical appearance on the big screen as the Marvel superhero Spider Man. He was almost selected to play the protagonist role in the second movie of the franchise due to health problems of the original actor, Tobey Maguire. Unfortunately for Gyllenhaal, Maguire was able to recover on time to take back his role as Spider Man.
Jake didn’t limit himself to the film industry; he also showed his passion for theatres. During his first theatrical appearance, he appeared along London star Kenneth Lonergan during the early 2000’s. He revealed his interest of theatre acting, seeing as his most respected favorite actors had all participated in theatres before; so he decided to give it a shot.
Late 2000’s and Present Career
During 2005, Gyllenhaal gave his acting career a considerable lift with his appearance with a main role in the notorious film Brokeback Mountain. There was a lot of controversy regarding his acting in this film, where he and Heath Ledger played the role of two cowboys that meet while herding sheep. Later on, they have sex and fall into a gay relation that is prolonged for over 2 decades. Despite the criticism about both actors’ sexuality, the movie received multiple awards and Gyllenhaal obtained a nomination from the Academy Awards, but failed to take the trophy home. After facing loads of questions regarding his sexuality prior to the release of the film, Jake stated:
“I consider it to be a compliment that media calls me bisexual. It means I was able to carry out a different type of role- and I was good at it. I am however, not sexually attracted to other men.”
Gyllenhaal participated in a very interesting audition during these years. He was very close from getting the role of Batman in Batman Begins. This would have probably been the most important hit of his acting career, but Christian Bale was later given the role. In 2007, he obtained a role in the mystery-thriller film Zodiac, based on the true events of one of the most terrifying cases in San Francisco; a serial killer self-proclaimed as “Zodiac”, who killed over 5 people during the 1960-1970 decade. The film follows the police investigation behind the case, and is based on an extensive research performed by the director of the movie.
During 2012, Jacob demonstrated once again his ability to perform with other actors in the film End of Watch, where he had a main role accompanied by actor Michael Peña. They played the roles of two cops who are responsible of keeping public peace and solving street crimes. After the release of the film, both actors were praised by critics and audiences through social media and film magazines. In order to perform an accurate role, both stars joined real-life police activities in order to familiarize themselves with the language and the overall role of a cop. Gyllenhaal also took additional training in the tactical field.
The 2015 festival held in Cannes chose Gyllenhaal as a member of the jury in the main event, where he did an outstanding performance as a judge and critic.
Later on that year, the actor received a major role in the sports drama film Southpaw. In the film he plays the role of Billy Hope, a professional boxer with an amazing record of unbeaten victories. He had the opportunity to work along some very big characters, such as the famous rapper and actor 50 Cent.
In this film, Jake gives an outstanding performance of an unstable character, which after losing his wife falls into abuse of alcohol and other drugs. His actions lead to public services to take away his daughter from him, and he most sustain a healthy and stable life in order to get her back. Gyllenhaal was once again praised by critics, nailing every emotional scene and demonstrating absolute control of his emotions in front of the camera. It’s also known that the famous rapper Eminem was initially supposed to take the role that was later on assigned to Gyllenhaal.