Jake Gyllenhaal Explains How Parents' Divorce Changed Him Forever

Pam WrightLife

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Jake Gyllenhaal says the divorce of his parents seven years ago changed him forever.

The Southpaw actor was already established as an actor and a grown man when his parents, director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner finalized their divorce in 2009, but Gyllenhaal says the sudden shift in his personal life caused him to hit pause on the direction in which his career was going.

"It allowed me to be more honest with myself," the 34-year-old actor told People magazine.

Although news of the split was earth-shattering for the actor and his family, he says he respected his parents' courage in making that very difficult decision.

"There was a sense of two people who said 'What is our truth?' It was painful for a lot of people in our family, but that honesty was inspiring."

Since then, Gyllenhaal, who was recently called "perfect" by Kelly Ripa, has taken lessons learned from the painful experience in being honest in his own life and career choices, and emulates his parents whenever possible.

"They're really everything to me," he said.

Case in point — in taking on the mature role as a grieving father in Southpaw, Jake Gyllenhaal "went to places emotionally that I don't think he'd ever explored before," said director Antoine Fuqua.

Pam Wright