Jake Gyllenhaal on Private, 5-Year Romance with Jeanne Cadieu: ‘It’s About Being Seen for Who We Are’ (Exclusive)

For Jake Gyllenhaal, it’s all about family.

The actor recently wrote his first book for children, The secret society of aunts and uncles (on sale Sept. 5), inspired by the close relationship she shares with sister Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard’s daughters Ramona, 16, and Gloria, 11.

“I would love to have a family, and if it’s anything like the family my sister raised and nurtured, I’d be proud,” Gyllenhaal told PEOPLE in this week’s issue, calling his relationship with the girls “one of the most important in my life.”

Jake Gyllenhaal’s first children’s book, ‘The Secret Society of Aunts and Uncles’.

Gyllenhaal, 42, was also in a five-year relationship with French model Jeanne Cadieu, which saw the pair weather pandemic isolation while living next door to his godmother Jamie Lee Curtis. The actor says their relationship has evolved since those early days.

“It’s all about joint growth, listening and openness. It’s really not that different from any relationship when it works,” says Gyllenhaal. The actor points to The secret society of aunts and unclesin which a rigid, rule-abiding uncle slowly (thanks to some magical interference) begins to realize who his artistic nephew really is.

Jake Gyllenhaal reveals the sweet lessons he learned as an uncle: ‘It’s about what [My Nieces] I want’ (Exclusive)

“The end of this book is: I see you. And if you listen and try to pay attention – which we don’t always do, all of us, perfectly all the time – but if we try and go in that direction, then things last and grow. It’s about seeing us for who we are.”

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Although he and Cadieu have mostly kept their relationship private, aside from select public appearances such as this summer’s French Open and on the red carpet for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The lost daughterJake says the couple is doing what feels natural to them.

“It’s no secret that I’m in a relationship and it’s a beautiful relationship,” he says. “We’re private, but I guess we are what we are. We just live our lives. We always are. And I love that people are interested, but at the same time, it’s like it’s ours, it’s ours.”

Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal: All about their sibling relationship

Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Lee Curtis at the Los Angeles premiere of MGM's Guy Ritchie's "Vow"

Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Lee Curtis at the premiere of ‘The Covenant’. Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Curtis supported Gyllenhaal at his April premiere of the film Vowrecalling that their almost one-year pandemic experience as neighbors was filled with “singing, acting, [and] sourdough.”

Asked what advice she gave her godson when he was younger, Curtis recalled, “I looked at him and said, ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time. You’re just getting started. Maybe there are things your parents do’ that I don’t have the experience, strength, and hope. Please use it if you need to.’ ”

Today, Gyllenhaal tells PEOPLE he was “so excited” to see Curtis, 64, win an Oscar for Everything everywhere and at once earlier this year. “I’ve watched people slowly begin to see Jamie as I’ve always seen her, who is truly an icon,” he says.

“I have always deeply admired her,” he continues, calling her a true artist. “Privately, she’s been open about her struggles and the things she’s going through. She’s just a wonderful example of how your career can develop if you’re lucky enough and if you commit to something and care about it from your 20s to your 30s, to your 40s, into your 60s — into your 80s, if you’re true to yourself. She’s badass.”

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Source: HIS Education

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