Film Face-off: Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Daniel Radcliffe

No one gets Jake Gyllenhaal and Daniel Radcliffe confused. One is Maggie’s brother, and the other is Harry. This past weekend both actors had new films hit theaters. Gyllenhaal has Nightcrawler and Radcliffe has Horns. Neither movie is a superhero film, which might confuse and disorientate you just a bit, especially considering Nightcrawler is part of the X-Men universe (just not in this case).

So is it enough to do a Film Face-off just because both actors have movies out? Yes, absolutely. But the similarities don’t end there. Both men were born in the ’80s, have brown hair, and have starred in exactly one romantic comedy. Eerie, isn’t it? On with the show!

Romantic Comedies

Jake Gyllenhaal

Love & Other Drugs costars Gyllenhaal with Anne Hathaway. She suffers from Parkinson’s and he’s a drug rep working for Pfizer. The film is set in the ’90s in Pittsburgh.

Daniel Radcliffe

What If costars Radcliffe with Zoe Kazan. Wallace has been burned in a past relationship, and he becomes friends with Chantry. They test the boundaries of friendship and love.

WinnerJake Gyllenhaal. Maybe they’ve both only done one romantic comedy because these films are pretty average. That’s right, this was almost a tie. Radcliffe’s film suffers from the decision to steer away from its originally planned R rating (and title The F Word). It needed, but lacked bite. Love & Other Drugs has a surprising amount of Hathaway’s naked body, though the tone switches whenever it feels like it. While the supporting cast of Adam Driver and Megan Park is better in What If compared to Josh Gad in Love, the pairing of Gyllenhaal and Hathaway is what sets this ahead.


Jake Gyllenhaal

There is only one Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time film, based on the video game.

Daniel Radcliffe

There are eight Harry Potter films, and Radcliffe is front and center for all of them.

WinnerDaniel Radcliffe. This should be obvious, but eight is better than one. That makes a lot of sense, right? Radcliffe is Harry Potter. Thankfully, it seems we’re all OK with him moving on, but think about how lucky the franchise is to have had Radcliffe. He didn’t just maintain a level of acting — he thankfully improved with age. Jerry Bruckheimer helped produce Prince of Persia, but his Pirates of the Caribbean magic was nowhere to be found. A flat performance from Gemma Arterton definitely didn’t help.

Quality of First Film

Jake Gyllenhaal

A very young Gyllenhaal plays Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers. The film went on to gross almost $ 125 million, and made it possible for Jack Palance to do a one-armed push-up at the Oscars.

Daniel Radcliffe

Raise your hand if you thought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the answer to this category. Well, it’s not. Radcliffe was in The Tailor of Panama with Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis.

WinnerJake Gyllenhaal. Crystal used to be great. We need to tell you this, just in case you’re under 30 and thought he was only an animated monster. While the sequel City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold is tacky, there is plenty of charm in the original. There’s nothing wrong with Tailor, and a seven-year-old Radcliffe does a great job wearing a giant backpack, but it’s not a movie anyone has thought of in years.


Jake Gyllenhaal

Gyllenhaal has a few thrillers under his belt. Most notably there’s David Fincher’s Zodiac, Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko, and Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners.

Daniel Radcliffe

Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kipps in The Woman in Black. He’s a lawyer who travels to an incredibly remote village, with an even more remote house. There is also a ghost who is terrorizing the people.

WinnerJake Gyllenhaal. While The Woman in Black visually looks like a horror thrill ride, it’s more of a slow, boring burn. The constant in Woman is Arthur hearing or seeing something, then walking slowly toward it, then hearing or seeing something, and walking slowly toward it. We didn’t even mention the thrills involved with Gyllenhaal’s Source CodeEnd of WatchJarhead and also the drama Brothers. Yup, Jake wins this round.

New Films

Jake Gyllenhaal

Nightcrawler is set in Los Angeles with Gyllenhaal starring as Louis Bloom. Lou’s in need of work and begins work as a crime journalist. Because he’s so determined, and potentially unhinged, he gets ahead within the news industry.

Daniel Radcliffe

Horns is really, really interesting. Ignatius Perrish (Radcliffe) is accused of killing his girlfriend (Juno Temple). Ig also has horns growing out of his head, which causes people to confess their deepest secrets.

WinnerJake GyllenhaalHorns is really interesting… until it isn’t. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to focus on the cool idea it creates, which is everyone confessing to Ig. The mystery element of the film is sadly obvious, and it feels like you’re just waiting for the film to figure out what it is. Nightcrawler is one of Gyllenhaal’s best performances. Lou is capable of anything, and you’ll be hooked once you discover where the film goes.

OVERALL WINNERJake Gyllenhaal beats Daniel Radcliffe, 4-1.

Well this just feels mean, like we’re picking on the little one (of the two). Truth is, Radcliffe spent so much time as Harry Potter we’re still not totally sure what else he’s capable of an as actor. He’s making interesting choices, and clearly not just trying to remain in popular blockbusters. Being nine years younger than Gyllenhaal, Radcliffe’s still got time to impress, with future projects in comedy (Trainwreck) and horror (Frankenstein). Then again, Gyllenhaal has the fantastic-sounding Everett and Demolition on the way, so he might always be one step ahead.


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