Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Bradley Cooper: Which Wannabe Leading Man Has Made Love out of Nothing at All?
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Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Bradley Cooper: Which Wannabe Leading Man Has Made Love out of Nothing at All?

By Cindy Davis | Seriously Random Lists | December 23, 2013 | Comments ()


You said it, I said it; over the past several years we all said it: Emu (aka Bradley Cooper) shall not be a thing. And yet there he is right in front of us, climbing that Hollywood ladder and starring in film after film. Someone’s intent on becoming an A-lister.

Running right alongside him is another familiar face—the guy who used to be known only as Maggie’s brother: Jake Gyllenhaal. A little more serious, perhaps slightly less approachable, Jake never quite seems comfortable in the limelight. But he’s been picking up steam and leading roles.

Neither actor’s cup is exactly overflowing with that thing that makes us swoon, but each seems to have just enough charm—a twinkly eye, a crooked smile—to get him by. Both boys surprised us a time or two. So, what say you Pajibafolk, which leading man wannabe has built up the love out of nothing at all?

Let’s go back to 2005, shall we?

Cooper won some of you over with his Will(iness) on Alias, while Jake’s affair with Heath Ledger stuck us right in the gut.


Jake also played Marine, Anthony Swofford in Jarhead, while Coop was still hangin’ with Sydney…albeit, trying to break away…via Wedding Crashers. C’mon Emu, that’s no way to win our hearts.


2007: Cooper plays “Cowboy” in made-for-television sports spoof The Comebacks (has anyone even seen this?); Jake is Robert Graysmith in David Fincher’s Zodiac.


2009: Jake sleeps with his brother’s wife in Brothers; Coop cheats on Jennifer Connolly with Scarlett Johansson in He’s Just Not That into You.


2009 to 2010: Bradley sees more action with The Hangover, All About Steve, Valentine’s Day and The A-Team. Jake’s pretty forgettable in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Love & Other Drugs.


2011: Tit for tat aka brain vs. this is your brain on drugs…Source Code vs. Limitless.


2012: Surprises all around…Cooper gains a lot of new fans starring opposite Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, and Jake powerfully partners with Michael Peña in David Ayer’s unforgettable End of Watch.


2013: The boys hit pay dirt. Gyllenhaal stars in Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners as a cop investigating a pair of missing girls, and (playing a dual role) Enemy. Cooper reteamed with JLaw and David O. Russell for American Hustle, and with all his buddies in The Hangover, Part III.


Is one of these guys the next Ryan Gosling?

Cindy Davis, (Twitter) is going with Gyllenhaal.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • sanity fair

    OK, now. Jake's getting all the love here, and I just don't understand. Yes, he's been in some very interesting, iconic movies. He's a decent actor, and I'll always have fondness for him for Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain.

    But I have to admit that, personally, I find the Emu way more appealing. Am I the only one? I mean, he blew my socks off in SLP. I just saw American Hustle, and I thought he held his own against Bale, which is something to be admired. His interviews show a kind, interesting individual. I know he's not Pajiba Top Ten material, but he still has appeal.

  • Orleanas

    Jake will forever have my love because of his performance in Brokeback Mountain. Since I finally saw the film a few years ago, I have desperately wanted him to hit it as big as his other costars from that film and seriously ache for him to have good projects that are critically acclaimed and that are box office successes. He makes me giddy.

    I didn't know much about the other one until The Hangover. He had "douche" written all over him, so I've never been a fan....Please explain how / why he is nicknamed "Emu".

  • mairimba


  • e jerry powell

    Greasy Emu is Greasy Emu. Jake wins. For what that's worth.

  • Ben

    Serioously is anyone not going to be team jake here? Dudes obviously a better actor wit a whole shit tonne of great movies...

  • I don't know why Bradley Cooper makes me angry, but he does. He's a decent actor, but unless I want to be thoroughly pissed off, I can't watch his movies anymore. Jake doesn't have that effect on me, but he picks odd projects, many of which I'm not interested in seeing or forget are out. In terms of personality (what one can glean from interviews, etc.), I prefer Jake though I think Bradley is more charming than I give him credit for.

  • Pitry

    I was all ready to jump on the 'Well, okay, Bradley Cooper actually has talent, who knew!' bandwagon after SLP. Then The Place Beyond the Pines happened. And now American Hustle, in which he was the very weak link in an otherwise stellar movie and cast.
    Can Bradley Cooper UNhappen, please?

  • carrie

    i thought he was good in THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES even if he didn't seem at ease

  • Pitry

    I will admit here, my judgement is probably a bit skewed - I really disliked pretty much everything about Pines. Gosling, Cooper, the directing, the editing, the pace, the whole lot of it. Dane DeHaan was the only thing I didn't dislike about Pines. Despite Pines I had high hopes for Cooper in Hustle because he's already worked so well with Russell before. Alas, that was not to be. (although, judging from reviews, I am once again in the minority...)

  • carrie

    team Gyllenhaal all day for one reason (other than JG is more talented) :Cooper wants to be a star (see his awful ice cream commercial: a handsome blue eyed guy at a party with his pot of ice cream)
    i have nothing against Cooper:i thought he was better than Jennifer Lawrence in SLP,his scene when he blows a fuse in his parents' house is very credible

  • Sara_Tonin00

    But...they both *are* leading men. They have been. For years. They've both already made it. Bradley Cooper's had to work harder for it - he's older - but I think they are both on pretty solid ground.

  • I've been a huge fan of Jake since OCTOBER SKY, but back then I use to get Jake and Tobey MacGuire confused. So when they announced Tobey as Spider-man I was thrilled. Jake would have been the better Spidey for those Raimi films. Oh well.

    and while I own and love Bubble Boy, Jake will always be Donnie Darko in my head.

  • Keith Welch

    I took one look at those 2 pictures and thought: "Are they making another werewolf series?"

  • Jake Gyllenhaal strikes me as a guy with a lot of acting talent and a personality to boot. He probably suffers a lot from being a leading man in the same area as Joaquin Phoenix, who I imagine gets a lot of work that Jake could also get, but he also seems to have something simmering beneath the surface, which we've seen glimpses of. I can see him working forever and finally coming into some real acclaim as an elder statesman in Hollywood who just churns out work (the kind of actor Hackman or Duvall became). He also doesn't seem out of place in a wide variety of projects.

    Bradley Cooper seems like a head of hair who REALLY REALLY wants to be a movie star. Would anyone be surprised in 40 years if Bradley Cooper had become George Hamilton?

  • loo shag brolley

    Until this very moment, I could not put a finger on what exactly about Cooper elicits such mild approval, but you've hit it: he's our George Hamilton. Who knew we needed one? And yet we do. All the ups.

  • Bananapanda

    Jake makes far more interesting choices, is more comfortable in his skin (less eager to please and needy) and has grown up in the industry. No comparison.

    Also, if you watch both Inside the Actor's Studio - Jake by a long shot. He's way more interesting than Cooper who CRIED a lot.

    P.S. Am I the only one who can't stand Maggie? She's in interesting movies but I find her smarmy, slightly self righteous in an 'I am Artist' kind of way.

  • Dumily

    I agree about Maggie, but I think she's picked a couple of roles that intentionally skewer that image ("Stranger Than Fiction" and "Away We Go") so it doesn't really bother me. Plus my sister is a stage actress so I sort of imagine all actresses are like that.

  • John G.

    Can I choose neither? I really don't see what people like about either one. Every day I'm amazed that Gyllenhaal has a career, but Emu Cooper irks the shit out of me whenever I see his face, so I'm torn.

  • mairimba

    This whole list means nothing if you don't include Donnie Darko.

  • mzblackwidow

    Donnie Darko ensures Jake a place in my heart, doesn't matter to me what else he does or does not do.
    I do find Cooper to be flesh crawling icky though, so (almost) anyone would get my vote over him.

  • JustOP

    I've never really had an issue with either actor, and I didn't even know it was a 'thing' to not root for them.

    I've liked Cooper since the Hangover (in which I also caught a few interviews with him, one including him asking Sean Penn a question on Inside The Actors Studio as a student), and he hasn't given me a reason to dislike him since.

    Gyllenhaal has been consistently great since Donnie Darko. If anything, I've always thought of his sister like 'Oh, you know, Jake Gyllenhaal's sister'. All I remember her in is Secretary and one of the Batman movies.

    Maybe this is attitude is more prelevant in the states?

  • Fruity Fonzie

    give me Jake any day

  • laylaness

    I don't think I ever knew JG as "Maggie's brother". And B. Coop was in Wet Hot American Summer, which clearly makes him superior to Jake.

  • Repo

    You neglected Bubble Boy, which makes this argument moot. Clearly all things are coming up Gyllenhaal. I also think he's a better actor than Gosling since you brought him into this.

  • Modernlove

    I've been Team Jake since I saw Donnie Darko. I wish he'd find something huge to really hit home how fantastic of an actor he is. His best work tends to be the smaller movies no one ever sees.

  • MichaelAndTheArgonauts

    Bradley Cooper will be Rocket Raccoon next year. Thus, he wins at everything.

  • Ben

    I want him to be good, I really do. But I've grown so fond of his cockney accent in Ulitmate Marvel vs Capcom 3, I'm dissapointed he's not someone like Vinnie Jones.

  • MichaelAndTheArgonauts

    After seeing Dom Hemmingway trailers I thought Jude Law could be great for the cockney approach. A lot of people wanted Jason Statham or Ray Winstone. I'm really intrigued by Cooper's casting. Can't wait to hear what he's come up with.

  • Ben

    Honestly if it wasn't Marvel doing this I'd be pretty anxious and nervous about it. But for their faults, marvel's films have been pretty much flawless in terms of casting so far. Even when it just seemed like an insane choice (Surfey dude from Home and Away for Thor? Smart arse commedy dude for Cap) They've ended up being fucking perfect.

    So yeah at this point I'm willing to trust Marvel a whole lot.

  • MichaelAndTheArgonauts

    Exactly. Especially since RR's casting is just a small part of what a successful GOTG film would be. There are a lot of things that need to click onscreen for the film to work and be sold to new audiences. Definitely Marvel's riskiest offering yet. We just have to completely trust in James Gunn like Marvel has. The comic con footage was, dare I say, inspired? It is by far my most anticipated film of 2014(winning out over Interstellar and DOFP) and my most anticipated trailer release since Fellowship of the Ring in 2001.

  • dilwazr

    Okay, COME ON, he doesn't sleep with his brother's wife in "Brothers." They just kiss. That being said, I am also Team Jake. I think his enormously asymmetrical face is very appealing. Seriously, have you ever looked at him straight-on? He looks like a damn Picasso.

  • Dumily

    Team Jake, all day.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Your avatar makes me uncomfortable. It's staring into my soul.

  • Dumily

    Because it's so hot?

  • Uriah_Creep

    Well yes, Rob Ford is one sexy dude. And he can dance! But I have to wonder how you got that picture of his O face.

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