50 interesting things about Jake Gyllenhaal: a practicing Buddhist, Paul Newman gave him his first driving lessons

Jake Gyllenhaal is an Oscar-nominated actor known for his work in films like Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead and Zodiac.

  1. His full name is Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal.

  2. He was born on December 19, 1980 in Los Angeles, California.

  3. His family is in show business. His mother Naomi Foner is a screenwriter and his father Stephen Gyllenhaal is a director.

  4. Jake's father has Swedish, English, and distant Swiss-German and French, ancestry. Jake's mother's family is Ashkenazi Jewish (they immigrated from Poland and Latvia to New York).

  5. Jake is a descendant of the Swedish noble Gyllenhaal family and is listed in the Swedish Almanac of Nobility.

  6. His older sister is actress Maggie Gyllenhaal.

  7. He went to elementary school with band members of Maroon 5.

  8. Paul Newman is his godfather and Jamie Lee Curtis is his godmother.

  9. He got his first driving lesson from Paul Newman, how cool is that?

  10. When he was a teenager, he would get summer jobs even though he didn't have to. Some of the jobs that he did included working as a lifeguard and busing tables at a restaurants.

  11. While he was lifeguarding on Martha's vineyard, he had an interesting experience. "Someone got stung by a jellyfish and I peed on their leg to counteract the sting," he told PEOPLE."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."

  12. Instead of having a huge party for his Bar Mitzvah and receiving lavish gifts - he spent the day volunteering at a homeless shelter as a means of showing his appreciation for his privileged lifestyle.

  13. He had a childhood crush on Martha Plimpton. He met her when she appeared in "Running on Empty", which was written by Jake's mother Naomi Foner.

  14. Jake attended high school with "Freaks and Geeks" star Jason Segel and Ayda Field.

  15. Jake was first inspired to become an actor by watching Ed Wood, Tim Burton's 1994 biopic starring Johnny Depp.

  16. His parents forbade him to be in "The Mighty Ducks", as the film would have taken him out of town for two months (it was shot in Minnesota).

  17. His first film role was playing Billy Crystal's son in the 1991 comedy "City Slickers."

  18. He studied acting with Ivana Chubbuck.

  19. He also had a minor role in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, as well as in another comedy, 1992's Homegrown. He was also in an Italian cooking show, Molto Mario, with his mother and sister. In 1993, he starred in Josh and S.A.M., a film that his father didn't direct.

  20. In spring 2002, Gyllenhaal starred on the London stage in Kenneth Lonergan's revival of This Is Our Youth. The actor received an Evening Standard Theater Award for his portrayal.

  21. Spent two years at Columbia University, where one of his professors was Robert Thurman, Uma Thurman's father.

  22. His fans refer to themselves as "Gyllenhaalics".

  23. His breakout role was in the cult hit movie Donnie Darko. Ironically, his sister Maggie starred as his sister in the movie.

  24. Jake drove his Jarhead co-star, Peter Sarsgaard crazy because he kept playing the same U2 and 50 Cent song (Candy Shop) over and over again.

  25. Jake was slated to play Spider-Man in "Spider-Man 2" due to Tobey Maguire having injured his back while filming Seabiscuit. While Gyllenhaal was preparing for the role, Tobey recovered to reprise his role as Spider-Man.

  26. He was named one of People Magazine's 50 Hottest Bachelors in 2004.

  27. He auditioned for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in "Batman Begins" (2005).

  28. His favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, and he has two dogs, Atticus and Boo named after characters in the novel.

  29. Voted No. 2 in People magazine's list of "Hottest Bachelors" in 2007.

  30. On Phantom Planet's 2002 album "The Guest", lead singer Alex Greenwald lists him in his thank yous. Alex appeared with Jake in "Donnie Darko."

  31. He was introduced to Kirsten Dunst by his sister and they began dating in 2002. Although they broke up in July 2004, he and Dunst had an on and off relationship up until 2006.

  32. He gave Kirsten Dunst a gray and white kitten for her birthday. She named the cat Sophie.

  33. He is s good friends with Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey.

  34. His uncle, Anders Gyllenhaal, is senior vice president and executive editor of The Miami Herald in Miami, Florida.

  35. Some of his idols include Anthony Quinn, Paul Newman, Sean Penn, Bruce Springsteen and Bono.

  36. Gyllenhaal and his sister Maggie are the first siblings to both be nominated for Oscars in acting in the 21st century. He was nominated in 2006 for "Brokeback Mountain" and she was in 2010 for "Crazy Heart."

  37. Gyllenhaal had a childhood crush on actress Martha Plimpton. He met her when she appeared in 1988's "Running on Empty," which was written by his mother Naomi.

  38. Jake is a friend to actress Natalie Portman and Bryce Dallas Howard.

  39. He is 6' (1.83 m) tall.

  40. He dated actress Reese Witherspoon.The relationship is rumored to have ended because he wanted to get married and Witherspoon didn't.

  41. His most controversial movie role to date is in Brokeback Mountain, where he played Heath Ledger's lover.

  42. He is the godfather of Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams 's daughter Matilda Ledger.

  43. After doing Brokeback Mountain, he was dogged with gay rumors which he denied.

  44. Jake was, along with Matt Damon, the studio's first choice for the role of Jake Sully in "Avatar", but director James Cameron chose to cast the (back then) more unknown Sam Worthington in the lead role instead.

  45. Jake was ranked #8 on Entertainment Weekly's '30 Under 30' the actors list. (2008).

  46. He dated singer Taylor Swift in 2010 and reports say she lost her virginity to him although nothing has been confirmed. He broke up with her and is the inspiration behind her hit songs "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and other Red hits.

  47. Jake loves to watch Food Network shows like, Molto Mario and Iron Chef.

  48. Jake had to gain five pounds of muscles for his role in Jarhead. He eventually had to lose it for his role in Zodiac.

  49. Jake is a practicing Buddhist.

  50. He appeared nude on the cover of Entertainment Weekly alongside his Love and Other Drugs co-star Anne Hathaway.

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