18 Things to Know About Jake Gyllenhaal

Everything you need to know about the Jewish actor, including his very unusual bar mitzvah.

If you’re attracted to men, odds are that Jake Gyllenhaal is your celebrity crush. He’s attractive, talented, socially conscious, fashionable, funny, vulnerable … well, you get it.

But how much do you actually know about the actor? (And no, knowing he’s hot doesn’t count.)

Without further ado, let’s jump into 18 things to know about Jake Gyllenhaal!

1. Jake was born in Los Angeles, California, to a Jewish mother, the screenwriter Naomi Foner, and a non-Jewish father, the film and television director Stephen Gyllenhaal.

2. Through his father, he’s a member of the Swedish nobility! We think this situation absolutely warrants a “yes, king!”

3. He was just as adorable as a child as he is now. Don’t believe us? See for yourself!


4. He has two siblings, a half-brother from his father’s second marriage and an older sister, the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. Here’s a photo of Maggie and Jake looking very mid-2000s:

5. Jake had an unusual bar mitzvah.

“On my 13th birthday, they thought it was important for me to experience a rite of passage, an entrance into manhood, and the consensus was that we would do something for the good of the community, some charitable work – a barmitzvah-like act, without the typical trappings,” Jake said in a 2010 interview with the Guardian. “So we went to a homeless shelter and we did some work there and then I had the party – the celebration – there.”

Jake further describes his bar mitzvah in this 2015 clip from “The Howard Stern Show”:

6. Jake graduated from the Harvard-Westlake School in 1998, which, even though it’s not a Jewish school, has had numerous, notable Jewish alumni like Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt.

7. Jake credits his career to “October Sky” director Joe Johnston; a film which, by the way, Jake starred in when he was only 16 (!!!).

He really gave me my first shot. And I owe him a lot that he believed in me,” Jake said of Johnston in an interview with GQ.

Check out the interview here where Gyllenhaal further breaks down his role in “October Sky” and other notable roles he’s had throughout his career:

8. Gyllenhaal’s second film was “Donnie Darko,” which he starred in alongside his sister Maggie. Though the movie was not received well initially, it is now a cult classic. January 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the film’s release, and Jake celebrated by posting some “artifacts” of the film on his Instagram.

Additionally, a very popular meme format has sprung out of this scene from the movie:

Here are some of our favorite “Donnie Darko” memes:

9. Jake played Jack Twist in the critically acclaimed and barrier-breaking film “Brokeback Mountain,” and it has been defining for his career.

Check out this clip from a 2019 interview where Jake discusses the doors that were opened for him:

He has also shown incredible sensitivity towards his position as a straight man playing a gay character. Speaking at his alma mater Harvard-Westlake, Gyllenhaal said, “I never saw [Brokeback Mountain] as ‘that gay cowboy movie,’ I always just saw it as a love story.

He was awarded a BAFTA for his role in the movie and you can watch his acceptance speech below:

10. Jake Gyllenhaal + Vampire Weekend is a match made in HEAVEN. In 2010, Jake appeared in the music video for Vampire Weekend’s song “Giving Up The Gun,” which you absolutely must see:

“That was just amazing, because I love that band, and I love their first album, and I had recently just got their second album,” Gyllenhaal said of the experience. “I got a call from the directors, who are friends of mine … and they were like, ‘We’re doing this thing, and we heard you’re a big fan of the band. We didn’t know if you wanted to come down.’ I was actually in San Francisco, and they were shooting it in Los Angeles, and they were like, ‘We’re shooting it this evening,’ so I said, ‘All right, I’m there.’ So I drove down from San Francisco to this soundstage in downtown L.A., and I basically changed into a tennis outfit, and I got down.

11. In 2017, Jake starred in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Sunday in the Park with George” as Georges Seurat (a role we simply must remind you was originated by everyone’s favorite Jewish grandpa, Mandy Patinkin) and will reprise the role in a 2021 West End production of the show.

You’ll be happy to know that Mandy absolutely approves of Jake as Georges, as evidenced by this interview with Kelly Rippa:

And how could he not be?! Just watch this video of Jake performing “Finishing The Hat”:

And here’s another clip of him performing “Move On” for Stephen Sondheim’s birthday, just because:

12. Jake can put on a t-shirt while doing a handstand! It’s true!

We’ll give you a second to rewatch, if need be…

You can also read more here on the absolute stir Jake created with the tie-dye Russ & Daughter’s t-shirt he’s wearing in the video.

13. The man looks absolutely delicious next to a bag of bagels, especially when it’s promoting ANOTHER piece of Russ & Daughter’s merch:

Bonus points if you noticed his incredible Kermit the Frog sneakers!

14. Jake is a supervillain! OK, not really. But in the Marvel Universe, he is! In 2019 he starred in “Spider-man: Far From Home” as Mysterio.

Here he is “feeling cute” in Mysterio’s helmet:

15. Jake had a frankly very weird cameo in “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch,” which you can watch here:

Incredible dance moves, Jake.

16. His best friend is fellow actor Ryan Reynolds. Like any good friends, they had a silly back-and-forth on social media for National Best Friends Day in 2019:


Very cute.

17. Jake thinks film and movies need to continue showing men and boys that it’s OK to be sensitive and vulnerable.

It’s very important we’re portraying men in a different way in film, in art. I remember being very young, very sensitive, and someone said I was a doormat,” Gyllenhaal said in a 2020 interview with British Vogue. “I think what they were trying to say, that’s full of its own very interesting complications, was that I cared. And things affected me. That potentially I wouldn’t be someone you would picture jumping off a roof into an exploding building. But I don’t agree with that. When I did Jarhead, the writer William Broyles said to me, ‘You are like so many of the guys I was in service with.’ I think that’s important to perpetuate in storytelling.”

What. a. mensch.

18. But not everyone is swooning over Jake. Taylor Swift wrote her songs “All Too Well” and “We Are Never Getting Back Together” about Jake and their break-up. Yikes.

Taylor also recently announced that “Red (Taylor’s Version)” will be dropping November 19. Double yikes.

There have been some pretty funny tweets about the subject, however:

Welp, we’ll be praying for you, buddy.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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