Bagging movie roles is stressful for many actors, but what if an actor goes through all the processes and has to give up his role in the end? This was the story of teenaged Jake Gyllenhaal. Unlike many actors, Gyllenhaal was born into Hollywood life. The parents are director Stephen Gyllenhaal and film producer and writer Naomi Foner.
His sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, wasn’t left out in the show biz fun. Maggie is an Oscar-nominated actress and filmmaker and has starred in movies like “Secretary,” “Donnie Darko,” and several others.
Due to his family’s deep roots in Hollywood, one would expect that the “Nightcrawlers” actor was encouraged to go into acting, but this wasn’t the case. Gyllenhaal was almost cast in a Disney comedy-drama series called “The Mighty Ducks.” His parents quickly shut it down because of how long it would take to film, and the actor was less than happy about it.
Gyllenhaal Was Born Into Showbiz
As the child of two big names in Hollywood, it’s no surprise that Gyllenhaal was born in Los Angeles. The actor grew up on the west coast and graduated from Harvard-Westlake High school in 1998. In an interview with The Guardian, the “Prisoner” actor spoke about some big names that frequented his house and how musical theater and classical music influenced him.
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“Both my parents, my mother, in particular, were always very socially conscious,” Gyllenhaal described his parents. “My mother would say that there are people who have so much money who don’t give any of it away, and there other people who have much less money, who give more than the richest people in the world. It should all be about giving something back.”
Gyllenhaal also said his parents tried to make him and his sister Maggie aware of their privilege while growing up and instill some form of humility in them. Like other ordinary children, his parents made him support himself by taking up a job as a lifeguard over the summer.
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Gyllenhaal Cried When He Couldn’t Act In ‘The Mighty Ducks’
Gyllenhaal appeared in movies like “Comedy Slickers,” “A Dangerous Woman” and several others as a young teen. The actor’s role as Billy Crystal’s son in “Comedy Slickers” got him a lot of fans and caught the eye of the producers of “The Mighty Ducks.” Gyllenhaal went as far as auditioning for the lead character Charlie Conway and even got the part, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The series’ timing didn’t suit Gyllenhaal’s parents, so the Hollywood veterans shut it down. In a 2015 interview with SiriusXM, the actor revealed that his parents pulled the plug on the project because they wanted him to focus more on his academics. The movie role would have taken months of his school time.
Young Gyllenhaal was unsurprisingly upset about the lost opportunity. “Yeah, I mean it was someone telling you you’re going to star in a movie, it’s crazy, and then they say you can’t,” the actor recalled. “I definitely remember crying on the kitchen counter. [To his parents], ‘You guys are crazy!’
“My parents were like, ‘you’re about to enter junior high school. You’ve got to get your education. That’s the most important thing. I promise you, you’ll hate us now, but you’ll thank us later. And I do.” The actor has moved from the experience, and the loss of the movie role didn’t hurt his career.
Gyllenhaal Preferred Darker Characters
Gyllenhaal started getting acting roles noticeably darker as he grew older than his previous ones. In a bid to be seen as an adult actor, the 40-year-old actor intentionally stayed away from teen movies. He starred in movies like “October Sky” and “Donnie Darko” as a young adult.
Even as an older adult, the actor still pursued more mature roles, although for a different reason. According to Female First, he said, “Someone asked me once what it was like to play a lot of dark characters, and I was like I have fun doing it,”
“Which seems to be off for people to understand like oh there all these dark subjects how can you have fun? And it’s what I love, like it brings me joy. I come out of a scene that was sort of madness sometimes, and I’m like that was so fun because being an actor, you need your imagination.”
The Gyllenhaals Are Royalty
In addition to being Hollywood royalty because of their parents, the Gyllenhaal family are also Swedish royalty. The male line, in particular, has ties to Swedish royalty.
Parade reported that the Gyllenhaal name “is listed in the Swedish almanac of nobility.”
The British royal family is vast and has numerous cousins besides the main family. Insider listed Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal as distant relatives to the Queen. They’re reportedly her 19th cousins, although it isn’t known how many times removed. The Gyllenhaal lineage with the Queen goes as far back as King Edward III’s 14th century.