Life, the nail-chewingly tense new action drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds opens today at Cineworld, marking a return to sci-fi for the ever-versatile star of Donnie Darko. But what other aspects of Jake have we come to love over the past 25 years? Here’s our guide to the 7 stages of Jake Gyllenhaal...
1. The beginner...
Jake got his big-screen break, at 10-years-old, as Billy Crystal’s son in the 1991 smash comedy City Slickers. Off the back of this, he was actually offered a part in the 1992 film The Mighty Ducks, but his parents forbade him from appearing, as it would have meant him leaving home for two months!
2. The breakout star
Although Jake had worked steadily through the 1990s (including two films directed by father), it was 2001’s time-twisty drama Donnie Darko that got him properly noticed. His performance as the doomed, troubled teen in Richard Kelly’s cult fave was immediately acclaimed and led to another lead role in the underrated comedy Bubble Boy.
3. Indie Jake
Jake Gyllenhaal is an A-list actor who can command millions per movie, but he’s still someone who is very much in touch with his independent roots, lending some powerful star wattage to films that might have otherwise struggled to find an audience. From the haunting and nocturnal Nightcrawler to the strange, elliptical Enemy to the Jack Kerouac-inspired road trip drama Highway, it appears that keeping one foot in the indie world is still important to Jake.
4. The courageous A-lister
Not many A-listers of Jake’s standing would have had the courage to sign up for a movie about a homosexual love affair. Ang Lee’s groundbreaking drama Brokeback Mountain ended up winning three Academy Awards, with Jake and co-star Heath Ledger scooping a Best Kiss gong at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards.
5. The action star
Jake’s headlined in quite a few action flicks over the years, and is quite the movie action man. His first big-budget blockbuster was Roland Emmerich’s global warming smash The Day After Tomorrow, where Jake played the fearless son of paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), while action-fantasy Prince of Persia: Sands of Time showed off Jake’s admirable pecs for the first time. There’s not many people who are fantastic character actors AND can convince in the action stakes, but Jake’s definitely one of them.
6. Sci-fi Jake
Jake’s certainly enjoyed his share of science fiction classics. Our favourite has to be the brilliant Source Code, Duncan Jones’ complex thriller which has Jake as a U.S. Army captain who is sent into a computed reality to find a terrorist bomber.
We also love Enemy, Denis (Arrival) Villeneuve’s haunting sci-fi drama that stars Jake in TWO roles! And now he’s returned to the genre with Life, where he plays a scientist onboard the International Space Station who discovers a rapidly evolving life form that threatens the crew and all life on Earth.
7. The Method Man
You can’t doubt Jake Gyllenhaal’s commitment to his craft. Just look at the transformations he made with his body for Nightcrawler and Southpaw. He lost an amazing 30lb for his role as the sleep-deprived crime journalist in Nightcrawler, and then, immediately afterwards, had six months to gain 30lb of muscle for boxing movie Southpaw. According to his trainer, Jake worked out for an incredible six hours per day, including 2,000 sit ups, 1,000 each morning and the same at night. Wowzers!