Date of Birth: November 16th 1977
She is the older sister of Jake Gyllenhaal and the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner. Gyllenhaal began her acting career in a film directed by her father, and later achieved recognition in her own right playing her real-life brother's on-screen sister in the cult hit Donnie Darko. Gyllenhaal made her breakthrough in the sadomasochistic romance, Secretary, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.
Gyllenhaal has chosen an eclectic range of roles, from indie films such as Sherrybaby, for which she was also nominated for a Golden Globe, to the romantic comedy Trust the Man and big-budget studio films such as World Trade Center and The Dark Knight (replacing Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes). Gyllenhaal grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the Harvard-Westlake prep school. While there, she attended a semester away program in Vershire, Vermont called The Mountain School. She graduated from Columbia University in 1998 with a BA in literature and Eastern religions and spent a summer studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Gyllenhaal's break-out role was in the black comedy Secretary (2002), a film about two people who embark on a mutually fulfilling BDSM lifestyle. The film earned Gyllenhaal widespread acclaim including a Golden Globe nomination, and marked the first time Gyllenhaal performed full frontal nudity on camera. Although impressed with the script, Gyllenhaal initially had some qualms about doing the film, which she believed could deliver an antifeminist message. But after carefully discussing the script with the film's director, Steven Shainberg, she agreed to join the project. Although insisting Shainberg did not exploit her, Gyllenhaal has said she felt "slightly taken advantage of" and in agreeing to do certain scenes she "conceded in a way that maybe in retrospect I wish I hadn't."