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Movies Make Siblings Screen Rivals

September 16, 2002|Robert W. Welkos

Hollywood history is replete with siblings who enjoyed success on the big screen. Perhaps the most famous were the Barrymores--John, Ethel and Lionel--who each had critically acclaimed film careers, with Ethel and Lionel winning Academy Awards.

The three even starred together in a film, "Rasputin and the Emperess," in 1932.

Others have included Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine, Julia and Eric Roberts, Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, Dennis and Randy Quaid, John and Joan Cusack, Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields, George Sanders (who played "The Saint") and brother Tom Conway (who played "The Falcon") in the 1940s, Lawrence Tierney and Scott Brady, and Frank and Ralph Morgan.

Now comes rising young actors Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal (pronounced JILL-en-hall), who, as luck would have it, each star in separate movies coming out in the next two weeks.

Maggie, 24, stars with James Spader in the kinky dark comedy "Secretary," which opens Friday. She plays a woman who takes a job as a secretary to a strange lawyer who is into S&M, which she finds a turn-on.

The following week, Jake, 21, co-stars with Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon in "Moonlight Mile," an emotional tale about a young husband-to-be immobilized by the murder of his fiance.

The actor first came to moviegoers' attention in "October Sky" and also appeared with his sister in last year's "Donnie Darko," and played opposite Jennifer Aniston in the current art house hit "The Good Girl." Maggie, meanwhile, has appeared in such films as "Riding in Cars With Boys" and the upcoming Nicolas Cage comedy, "Adaptation."

That both have pursued show business careers is less surprising when you know that their parents are director Stephen Gyllenhaal ("Losing Isaiah," "Waterland") and writer Naomi Foner ("Losing Isaiah" and "A Dangerous Woman").

Sister and brother have thus far leaned toward roles in quirkier, independent films, though "Moonlight Mile" is being released by Disney and "Adaptation" (which reunites the "Being John Malkovitch" writing-directing team of Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze) is being released by Columbia.

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