Jake Gyllenhaal comes from a Hollywood family; his sister is an actress as well as his parents that are both directors and screen-writers. His first big role was that of Homer Hickam in October Sky and has had several mainstream and cult-classics since then. Who can forget his titular character in Donnie Darko or Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain? However, believe it or not, Gyllenhaal has had a lot more less-memorable roles throughout his acting career. He may be one of Hollywood's most successful and notable actors, but let's not forget where he came from. Here are 10 Jake Gyllenhaal roles that everyone forgets.
10 Jamie Randall - Love & Other Drugs
Undoubtedly, the writing in this sappy romantic comedy falls flat, and Gyllenhaal gives a commendable effort to save it. Gyllenhaal does his job, portraying the selfish, reluctant-to-love Jamie Randall, but offers little more than a standard portrayal of an unoriginal character.
However, his inherent charisma does create another enchanting and hypnotic character that both his on-screen interest and audiences can't help but love. In fact, I think most also forget that he starred in Love & Other Drugs alongside Anne Hathaway!
9 Douglas Freeman - Rendition
Amongst the likes of Meryl Streep and J.K. Simmons, Gyllenhaal's portrayal of CIA analyst Douglas Freeman fades into the background of this muddled political drama. Unlike other roles in which even as a supporting character Gyllenhaal seems the star, his straight-faced, one-dimensional performance is just as mediocre as the film itself.
It centers on the controversial CIA practice of extraordinary rendition and is based on the true story of Khalid El-Masri, who was mistaken for Khalid al-Masri. The film contains similarities to the case of Maher Arar.
8 Davis Mitchell - Demolition
As recently widowed investment banker, Davis Mitchell, Gyllenhaal is trapped by a dense and ill-considered script. Unable to properly grieve his wife's death, Gyllenhaal's character is told to take his life apart to find himself — advice he takes literally.
Dismantling his leaky fridge, and then eventually destroying his entire house, Gyllenhaal's character seems callused and cold more than the calm numb it can be assumed was the intent. Essentially a display of Gyllenhaal's ability to thrust a sledgehammer at varying items, this role is an especially dismal spot in his otherwise upward trajectory.
7 Howard Birdwell - Accidental Love
Accidental Love may be the worst 100-odd minutes of moving images and audio that has ever dared call itself a film. Even at his best, Gyllenhaal could do nothing to save it. However, Gyllenhaal as the scatter-brained, though well-intentioned, politician Howard Birdwell is intolerably painful. Representing the case of a woman with a nail stuck in her head, Gyllenhaal's character's erratic behavior is unjustified and his every action brings more questions than answers. Undoubtedly a mistake, this role in Gyllenhaal's credits would be best if just quietly erased.
6 Jimmy Livingston - Bubble Boy
In a film that would never get made today, Bubble Boy is one of the most irreverent, insensitive comedies ever to be inspired by real events. A young Gyllenhaal offers a horribly hilarious depiction of a boy born without an immune system who, in his protective plastic bubble, sets out on a cross-country journey.
With a type of humor appealing primarily to tasteless prepubescents, this controversial adventure allows Gyllenhaal to display his comedic inclinations and serves as the actor's singular goofy credit.
5 Scott Fischer - Everest
As cocky Mt. Everest climbing guide Scott Fischer, Gyllenhaal delivers a fine performance in a small role. Rarely without a whiskey in hand, Gyllenhaal's character's fate seems inescapable, though the determination and ambition he exercises brings a level of admiration to the experienced climber. Adapted from Beck Weathers' memoir Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest, It is based on the real events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster and focuses on the survival attempts of two expedition groups.
4 Harold 'Hal' Dobbs - Proof
In this messy drama, Gyllenhaal's depiction of driven, albeit nerdy, Hal Dobbs is fairly forgettable in light of the film's leads, Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow. Cheery and optimistic, this rational and reasonable character is one of few Gyllenhaal has ever played, and at minimum serves as a demonstration that he can, in fact, execute such roles. The plot alternates between events immediately following the death of Robert, a brilliant mathematician whose genius was undone by crippling mental illness, and flashbacks revealing the life he shared with his daughter Catherine.
3 Pilot - Highway
Subject to the consequences of his friend's unfortunate mistake, Gyllenhaal is a drug-driven teen, who lacks sense, reason, and motivation.
In part to bad writing, Gyllenhaal is unable to garner audience support for his stoned, love-struck character. Pilot's ill-placed loyalty to his delinquent companion and inexplicable obsession with a half-lizard/half-boy are just a few of the unending problems with this film. Though Gyllenhaal's chemistry with co-star Jared Leto is endearing, the On The Road-esque film is confusing and cringe-worthy at best.
2 Jordan - Lovely & Amazing
As a high school, one-hour-photo clerk Jordan, Gyllenhaal's part is little more than a plot piece, but he does it well. Given little opportunity to show his acting abilities, and just a few minutes total screen time, Gyllenhaal's smile and despondent, insoluble charm are irrefutable as he becomes the source of affection for a much-older married woman.
1 Danny Robbins - City Slickers
Playing the on-screen son of Billy Crystal’s character, Jake’s big screen debut was a blink and you’ll miss it moment. At the tender age of 11, he could almost pass for a Macaulay Culkin look-a-like.
Being his first role, it is of little consequence to the narrative of the story. In Pamplona, Spain, Mitch Robbins, a radio advertisement executive, participates in the annual San Fermín festival, along with friends Ed Furillo and Phil Berquist. Back in New York City, Mitch has turned 39 years old and realizes his trips are to escape the reality of going through a midlife crisis.