Known for their incredible acting abilities and diversity of their work, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal continue to be major talents in Hollywood. The two siblings began acting in their youth. Both stars found their breakout roles performing in very dark movies. Older sister Maggie discovered her first breakthrough in the dark comedy Secretary. Meanwhile, Jake became quite well-known after starring in the now cult film Donnie Darko (alongside his sister).
Since then, they have developed their acting skills further, bringing additional recognition and fame to the Gyllenhaal name. From tackling controversial roles to depicting real-life stories, Maggie and Jake have become two exceptional stars in Hollywood.
However, behind their noted reputations and fame remain untold secrets about their past, the rise to stardom and their stumbles along the way. Their histories include their family history, struggles to break into the industry, even their past romances. In this article, we will share some of the little-known secrets of the two siblings and their path to becoming two of the most well-respected stars in Hollywood today.
From their early childhood careers to their present journeys of self-discovery, here are 15 Secrets About Maggie And Jake Gyllenhaal.
15 Their Family advantage
Though many fans are familiar with the legacies of certain Hollywood families like the Barrymores, the Eastwoods, or the Coppolas, the Gyllaenhaals hold a distinctive spot as well.
Well before Maggie and Jake graced the big screens, their parents established themselves in Tinsel town long before them. Their father, Stephen Gyllenhaal, began his career in the industry back in the late 1970s. His first wife (and the siblings’ mother) Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal worked as a director and screenwriter. Her successful screenplays even led to Golden Globe wins and Academy Award nominations. Even their father’s second wife, Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal, works as a filmmaker.
In addition, Jake’s godparents are even Hollywood legends. His godmother is actress Jamie Lee Curtis, and his godfather was the late actor Paul Newman.
14 Jake Is Basically Swedish Nobility
The Gyllenhaal siblings could be considered “Hollywood royalty” given their parents’ backgrounds in the film industry. With both screenwriting and directorial talent in their blood, they seemed destined to continue the family tradition of working in film industry. However, their real-life family lineage actually has ties to an aristocratic background.
The male line of the Gyllenhaal family, in particular, has ties to Swedish nobility.
Imagine that: Jake is technically a Swedish royal. However, his noble background does not just existent as a quirky family anecdote. The country of Sweden has documented proof of their lineage! According to Parade, their honorable familial name “is listed in the Swedish almanac of nobility.” Now we need to see Gyllenhaal take on the role of a royal just because of his background.
13 They Starred In Their Father's Films
Breaking into Hollywood poses a difficult challenge for many up and coming actors and actresses. From working numerous part-time jobs to small roles in TV or film, young actors may take years before they have established a name for themselves. However, some new stars find ways into their first roles thanks to their connections.
In the case of the Gyllenhaal siblings, many of their early acting roles on film came to them because of their father, director Stephen Gyllenhaal. Jake’s early film career included parts in his father’s films including Waterland, A Dangerous Woman, and Homegrown.
Maggie’s early film career was limited to her father's movies only. She starred in the previously mentioned films with her brother along with additional appearances in Shattered Mind, The Patron Saint of Liars, and Resurrection.
12 Jake's Parents Wouldn't Let Him Star in The Mighty Ducks
Given his family’s extensive roots in Hollywood, you would think Jake would be encouraged to pursue his dreams of being an actor. Given that his parents worked as directors and screenplay writers, the path to Hollywood should have been a given. Yeah, not so much.
His parents actually discouraged him from pursuing his acting career and blocked him from accepting roles.
According to Slashfilm, “his parents forced him to turn down a role in 1992’s The Mighty Ducks.” The role he hoped to secure eventually went to Dawson’s Creek alum Joshua Jackson. However, his parents seemed to have his best intentions in mind. They discouraged him from taking the role to prevent him from missing school for two months.
Gyllenhaal admitted that they made the right decision: “I thanked them later because of all the things I learned, and even just being a normal kid at school.”
11 Jake Worked Summers As A Lifeguard
Although Jake expressed an interest early on for acting, his parents remained steadfast in providing their children some with some semblance of a normal upbringing. Instead of pushing him toward the spotlight, his parents encouraged him to take on work after school to earn money (although, financially, he did not need the money). Gyllenhaal found a job as a lifeguard over the summer.
He even saved someone once in a very unusual way.
In an interview with People Magazine, Gyllenhaal recalled a particular incident at the beach:"Someone got stung by a jellyfish, and I peed on their leg to counteract the sting.” Crazy! However, the incident appeared to be the most exciting moment of his summer job.
He continued, “Otherwise it was pretty tame. Occasionally I'd pick up the lifeguard buoy and run down the beach, Baywatch-style, like something was actually happening."
10 Jake Dropped Out of College
Many Hollywood hopefuls spend years preparing for their eventual “big break” into acting. Struggling actors and actress make their preparations for future careers by studying the art of acting in various workshops and programs. Some people even further their careers by taking by enrolling in formal programs in college and completing their degrees. The Gyllenhaals, however, followed nontraditional paths in college that didn’t prepare them for Hollywood at all.
The siblings attended Columbia University, their mother’s alma mater. However, for their majors, they both selected non-acting paths. Maggie graduated with an English degree and focused her studies on literature and Eastern religion.
Meanwhile, Jake only completed two years of college before quitting to pursue acting full-time. However, in his time at the university, his major was Eastern religions and Philosophy.
9 Jake Was Passed Over for the Lead Role in Avatar
James Cameron’s Avatar became the most-talked about movie of 2009, leading to over $2.7 billion in box office sales. Even today, fans have not stopped talking about the science-fiction film and cannot wait for its sequel. The movie elevated the careers of many of its stars, including relatively unknown actor Sam Worthington. However, given its star-studded cast, some wondered why a more prominent name was not chosen for the lead role. Budgetary concerns lead to the selection of the unknown actor over some larger names. Sadly, Jake Gyllenhaal was one of them.
Both Gyllenhaal and Matt Damon were reportedly the top choices for the role but were inevitably eliminated in the final casting for the money. Gyllenhaal went on to star in the psychological thriller Brothers instead that year. We still wonder how he would have fared on Pandora though.
8 Maggie Was Deemed Too Old For A Movie Role
One of the growing issues in Hollywood still revolves around the aging of the stars in the industry. Although actors seem to continue long-standing career well into older ages, actresses face a double standard. Many actresses, though still youthful and talented, face the stigma of being labeled “too old" for certain role.
Although many actresses face these issues in their 40s or 50s, Maggie Gyllenhaal came face first with this discrimination in her 30s. The Guardian reported that Gyllenhaal learned of a previous role she was passed on due to her age. She shared, “I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”
Get it together, Hollywood.
7 Jake Also Missed Out On Three Huge Roles in Popular Trilogies
Not only did Jake Gyllenhaal miss out on the opportunity to star in Avatar but in other wildly popular motion pictures as well. In fact, he has a habit of missing out on huge trilogies in particular.
Gyllenhaal was reportedly the top contender to replace Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2 since the actor sustained a back injury on the set of Seabiscuit. However, Maguire recovered in time to reprise his role.
Sadly, this was not the only superhero role he missed out on. In 2005, he was in the running to take on the part of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the rebooted film series Batman Begins.
It seems like it can’t get any worse, right? Gyllenhaal also lost out on the role of Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s behemoth Lord of the Rings trilogy.
6 They Escaped A Hotel Fire
Though the Gyllenhaal siblings have faced life-threatening situations and disaster in the movies, they, luckily, survived a real-life danger in 2006. The two stars were vacationing with their family they came face-to-face with an unsafe situation.
According to People, the siblings were “forced to flee Manka’s Inverness Lodge in the San Francisco Bay area when the two-story wooden inn caught fire”. The fire began when a tree fell in the back of the building during a windstorm.
The lodge used to be a frequent stop of many celebrities, including the Gyllenhaal siblings and Prince Charles. Unfortunately, the inn could not be salvaged and burned to the ground.
Jake even helped to pull belongings from the ruble of the fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire, and everyone made it out safely.
5 Jake Believes The Moon Controls Us
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal continues to deliver performances that keep his fans buzzing. Thanks to his good looks and talent, his name stays in the headlines regularly. However, in 2015, Gyllenhaal’s name appeared in tabloids thanks to his views on human behavior and acting techniques.
In an interview with Esquire, Gyllenhaal stated, “I believe deeply in the unconscious. That you literally accumulate the molecules of the space that you're in. We're like 90 percent water, so naturally we are going to be affected by the moon when it's full: if the sea is, why wouldn't we be? That seems scientific to me.”
He further concluded that by being in an environment similar to the character you are planning to play (i.e., preparing for a role as a firefighter by being around firefighters), you would excel in your acting ability onscreen.
4 Maggie Didn't Know Her Real Name Until She was 36
Sometimes, new actors and actress run into issues in Hollywood using their real name for their acting career often due to another established star or industry professional already working under the name. Though the use of stage names occurs very often, it is rare to find a star that has been using a false first name.
Though Maggie Gyllenhaal always knew her first name to be “Maggie,” she was shocked to learn that was incorrect.
In an interview with The Observer, she revealed that she didn’t learn about her real name until she was 36! According to the Times of Israel, “She discovered that her name was actually Margalit when she asked her parents to find her birth certificate so she could take care of bureaucratic requirements involved in her legally taking on the last name of her husband, actor Peter Sarsgaard.”
3 Jake Is Part Of A Special Group of "Almost Perfect" Actors
Throughout his career, Jake Gyllenhaal stands as an actor known for his depth in portraying characters on the big screen. Since making waves in his breakout role in Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal continued to shine onscreen as complex characters - so much so that Hollywood continued to recognize his acting achievements time and time again. Though he had received numerous roles over the years, he currently finds himself in a unique group of actors still lacking a “clean sweep” of nominations for one role.
According to IMDB, “Gyllenhaal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Marion Cotillard, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Daniel Brühl and Amy Adams 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.” His missed out on the nomination for his role in Nightcrawler.
2 Maggie's Controversial 9/11 Remarks
In the days following the tragedies of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the event itself became a sensitive topic for many people around the world. To this day, arguments still occur over the reasons behind the attacks and the steps that could have been taken to prevent it. In 2005, Maggie Gyllenhaal stirred up controversy when she made remarks regarding 9/11.
People that Gyllenhaal said, “Because I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way and so I think the delicacy with which its dealt allows that to sort of creep in.” The actress met with immediate backlash and later clarified her statement.
She explained that survivors should be "brave enough to ask some serious questions about America’s role in the world. Because it is always useful, as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict.”
1 Taylor Swift's Rumored 7 Songs About Her Relationship With Jake
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift’s reputation for using life experiences for her music has become the norm. Fans have come to expect her new music to hold details of her past relationships and their flaws. Jake Gyllenhaal has the distinct privilege of being the rumored subject in as many as six of Swift’s past songs.
Though the two only dated from October 2010 until January 2011, the relationship was allegedly long enough to provide fodder for some of Swift’s most popular songs. According to a review done by SPIN Magazine, lyrics to the songs “State of Grace”, “Red”, “All Too Well”, “Sad Beautiful Tragic”, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, and “Begin Again” seems to contain subject matter about him.
In addition, Billboard reportedthat “The Last Time” refers to him as well. Wow. Seven songs after only three months together? He must have made an impact.
Do you have other trivia to add about Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal? Let us know in the comments!