Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy[Photo Credit: Mecanismo Films]
Jake Gyllenhaal in Prisoners[Photo Credit: Warner Bros.]
Jake Gyllenhaal in End of Watch[Photo Credit: Open Road Films]
Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
Jake Gyllenhaal loses weight for his role in Nightcrawler[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
Remember the days Jake Gyllenhaal and former girlfriend Kirsten Dunst would walk their dog Atticus together in Los Angeles? Yes, and it was perfect. The Manic Pixie Dream Couple of the early ’00s may be long gone, but Gyllenhaal’s career only intensified after that relationship. As did his gossip potential and attempts at leading man status, giving us maple latte dates with Taylor Swift and the forgettable Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
While he broke out as a talented actor from a famous family oozing with indie credibility, Gyllenhaal quickly became one of Hollywood’s most coveted young actors. With the monstrous success of disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow, he began pairing his box office potential with high-profile romances that left tabloids salivating: Kirsten, Reese Witherspoon, Taylor. After an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, as well as films from Sam Mendes and David Fincher, the only thing left for him to do was take his shirt off in a big-budget video game adaptation, make googly eyes at Anne Hathaway in a rom com about Viagra and go on public man dates with Lance Armstrong. As Gyllenhaal’s star power surged, we, and most of Hollywood, lost sight of his talent and only thought about his… face. And just as the infamous cyclist fell from grace following a doping scandal, moviegoers forgot about Gyllenhaal’s true chops following a few less than stellar films and a new crop of Next Big Things arriving from across the pond.
But Hollywood loves a comeback story. Like Matthew McConaughey’s incredible career makeover, Gyllenhaal has put together a successful string of strong performances in well-received projects over the last two years. While you were busy claiming your allegiance to Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael B. Jordan, Gyllenhaal was proving to directors, casting agents and fans that he’s far from finished. (He is only 33, after all.) There was the surprising turn in End of Watch, which director David Ayer praised Jake’s dedication to the film and even suggested his future potential behind the camera. His performance in 2013’s Prisoners earned Gyllenhaal a Supporting Actor statue at the Hollywood Film Awards for his portrayal of a detective whose devotion to his case borders on obsession. He then teamed up with director Denis Villeneuve again for Enemy — in which he plays the dual role of guarded history professor and his actor doppelganger — a truly unique and confounding thriller.
We’re not saying their paths are identical, but if McConaughey were to fully capitalize off of his McConaissance by writing a book explaining his path to success, it would go something like this:
1. Take a break
2. Stop having very public relationships detailed in Us Weekly and/or settle down
3. Bypass big studio films
4. Lose weight for a role
5. Hire Jim Toth
The aforementioned relationship with Witherspoon might make Gyllenhaal hiring her current husband and Hollywood super agent a bit difficult, but he’s basically hit every other one of McConaughey’s marks. They’re projects you wouldn’t necessarily expect from the human embodiment of a beagle puppy, and his ability to make us forget about the past means it’s officially time to forgive him for his role in Prince of Persia. So what’s next for Jake? Well, McConaughey capped off an incredible 2013 with a Best Actor Oscar for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. Gyllenhaal shed 20 pounds last fall for his upcoming role in Nightcrawler, written and directed by Dan Gilroy. We’re not making any promises, but you know the Academy can’t resist throwing praise at a shocking physical transformation.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]