Jake Gyllenhaal is in an Anglophile because his English fans gave him the confidence to pursue an acting career.

The now 34-year-old actor starred in 'This Is Our Youth' at the Garrick Theatre in London in 2002 and although he was only just finding his feet as a thespian he has never forgotten the encouragement English audiences gave him back then.

Recalling his time on the stage in the UK capital, he said: ''People told me, 'You're good at this, you should keep doing it.' There was a sense of potential ... You didn't have to be the absolute best, but they could smell talent and they appreciated it, as long as you committed yourself ... They were first group who really understood me as an artist.''

That same year, Jake appeared in his breakthrough film 'Donnie Darko' along with his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Although the unusual movie was met with average reviews in the US at first it quickly became a cult hit in Britain.

Speaking to the July issue of Esquire magazine, Jake said: ''Street artists were doing art about it, it had this cult following. There was such a different response. British audiences were the first group who really understood me as an artist.''

Referring to himself as an Anglophile, he added: ''Pretty much all of my friends are Brits.''

Jake is currently being tipped for an Oscar nomination for his turn in boxing drama 'Southpaw', for which he went to Floyd Mayweather's gym in Las Vegas to train for.

In the movie - which comes out in July and was directed for by Antoine Fuqua - Jake plays pugilist Billy Hope and stars alongside Rachel McAdams, Naomie Harris, Forest Whitaker, Rita Ora and Tyrese Gibson.