The former child star wasn't director Richard Kelly's first choice to play Darko in the cult classic and Hollywood insiders claim Jason Schwartzman was down to portray the titular character until a scheduling conflict forced him to pull out of the film.

Gyllenhaal admits he had no problems not being number one, but the guy he replaced still haunts him to this day.

"Strangely the actor who dropped out still intimidates me to this day even though I played that role," he says in a new Screen Actors Guild Conversation. "(It's) just the fact that it (role) had been his. I feel like a role never truly is mine, which is why I try to prove that to myself. I'm cool to be the guy you call up after you call up three other ones."

But Jake is glad the Donnie Darko lead fell to him, because he's still very proud of the film.

"It translated the idea of adolescence to me more than any other movie at that time," he adds. "They were making so many movies at that time about what it was like to go through high school. I auditioned for so many of them. I read that one and it was the most relatable... I read that and it seemed like me."