Hollywood royalty and a Jewish “Rocky” all in one? Yes, on- and off-screen, actor Jake Gyllenhaal is all that.
The son of Jewish producer/screenwriter Naomi Foner and director Stephen Gyllenhaal is a descendant of a Swedish noble family. And in the adrenalin-pumping pic, “Southpaw,” he currently stars as an undefeated light-heavyweight champion boxer with a temper. The left-handed athlete encounters a terrible setback, loses almost everything and struggles to regain his title and his life.
Hailed as the most triumphant movie of the summer, Academy Award-nominated Gyllenhaal appears as young married father Billy Hope opposite Rachel McAdams, who must punch his way back to the spotlight, regain custody of his daughter and recover from other devastating losses.
The $30 million production also features Academy Award-winner Forest Whittaker as his trainer. The investment has more than paid off: the Weinstein Co.-distributed film took in more than $50 million worldwide in a few weeks at the box office.
Eminem, who initially signed on for the lead, created a “Rocky” eye-of-the-tiger feel as a contributing songwriter and the film soundtrack’s executive producer.
In a candid discussion about the film, Gyllenhaal admits he got hit often in training for the boxing scenes because of his tendency to chat.
The hit is just one of new heart-pumping projects for Gyllenhaal, who appears in top physical condition. That hasn’t gone unnoticed and captured the attention of almost a million YouTube viewers.
An unexpected jump-rope challenge from Ellen DeGeneres landed a significant contribution for the actor’s favorite charity, despite his tendency, once again to chat.
Next month, Gyllenhaal appears in “Everest,” with an all-star cast including Keira Knightley and Robin Wright. The adventure drama is based on the true story of a 1996 climbing expedition on the legendary peak crippled by a severe snow storm. The disastrous ascent of Mount Everest in the Himalayas led to many fatalities.
And in April 2016, Gyllenhaal is slated to appear in the dramedy “Demolition,” opposite Naomi Watts and Heather Lind, as a successful investment banker struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash.
He is also slated to appear in “The Man Who Made It Snow.” The feature film reveals the American Jewish mastermind who helped move 56 tons of cocaine.
The project is based on the book of the same name that details the exploits of Max Mermelstein, who transformed a small mom-and-pop drug organization into a billion-dollar enterprise, the Columbia-based Medellin drug cartel, from which he was ultimately forced to escape. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, who worked with Gyllenhaal in “Southpaw,” the film’s release date has not yet been finalized.
It was also recently announced that Gyllenhaal will play the lead role opposite Amy Adams in Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” drama opening in theaters in 2017.
This film adaptation of the 1993 novel “Tony and Susan” by Austin Wright contains a story within a story. Adams portrays Susan, the ex-wife of an unpublished author who reaches out to her many years later asking for her opinion of the completed manuscript of his first novel. As she reads, she quickly becomes drawn into the fictional drama of Tony, played on-screen by Gyllenhaal, dragging her back into a dark and complex past. Ford is also writing and producing.
Gyllenhaal began acting at age 10. His sister is well-known actor Maggie Gyllenhaal. She played his on-screen sibling in the 2001 film “Donnie Darko.” His godmother is film star Jamie Lee Curtis.
Even though he doesn’t have a chewy Jewish last name, he nevertheless has similiar tzuris when it comes to others pronouncing it wrong. It’s said correctly, he told late-night TV host Conan O’Brien, only on two places on Earth, Sweden and Ikea.