Biography

With her offbeat beauty and sensitive aura, Gyllenhaal has made a career out of playing troubled souls who possess more strength than they realize. The daughter of Oscar-nominated screenwriter Naomi Foner and Emmy-nominated director Stephen Gyllenhaal, the actress began appearing in her parents' projects as a teen. In 2001, she portrayed the older sister to her real-life brother, Jake, in the cult sci-fi flick Donnie Darko. But while it proved to be her sibling's breakout role, she lingered in her family members' shadows. That changed the next year, when she won the title role in the offbeat indie Secretary. As a suicidal young woman who finds a reason to live when she embarks on a sadomasochistic relationship with her boss, Gyllenhaal was surprisingly charming and deservedly earned a Golden Globe nod for her performance. The up-and-comer continued to choose quirky roles---a promiscuous rebel in Mona Lisa Smile, a vapid makeup artist in Adaptation---and turned in fine work in a trio of projects that touched on the events of September 11: the TV-movie Strip Search, the docudrama World Trade Center and the indie Happy Endings. During press for the latter, Gyllenhaal made an offhand comment about the U.S. being partially responsible for the terrorist attacks. This sparked a quick controversy, which was quashed when she apologized. The year 2006 was a banner one for Gyllenhaal: Not only did she snag her second Golden Globe nod for her turn as an ex-con trying to reconcile with her daughter in SherryBaby, but she also gave birth to a daughter with then-fiancé Peter Sarsgaard. After appearing in her first blockbuster film, 2008's "The Dark Knight," she followed up with her first Oscar nomination for 2009's "Crazy Heart."

Fast Facts

  • Studied briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
  • Directed in her first six films by her father.
  • Played the role of Alice in a 2000 Los Angeles stage production of Closer.
  • Started modeling for lingerie company Agent Provocateur six months after her daughter was born.
  • In 2009 performed off-Broadway in Uncle Vanya with then-fiancé Peter Sarsgaard.
  • An avid supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Awards

  • 2015, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie: Nominee
  • 2007, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee
  • 2014, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
  • 2009, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Nominee
  • 2003, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Nominee
  • 2006, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Female: Nominee
  • 2015, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner
  • 2003, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Female Lead: Nominee
  • 2009, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 2015, Critics' Choice Television Awards — Best Actress in a Movie or Limited Series: Nominee

Relationships

  • Ramona Sarsgaard — Daughter
  • Stephen Gyllenhaal — Father
  • Peter Sarsgaard — Husband
  • Gloria Ray Sarsgaard — Daughter
  • Kathleen Man — Stepmother
  • Jake Gyllenhaal — Brother
  • Naomi Foner — Mother

College

  • Columbia University, New York, New York, United States (BA in English, 1999)