Jake Gyllenhaal - February 23, 2017 - LEAD
Credit: Nicholas Hunt/Getty

When Jake Gyllenhaal arrived at the opening night after-party for his new Broadway musical, Sunday in the Park with George, there was one woman in the room that immediately captured his attention. Weaving through the crowd of well-wishers at the New York Public Library fete, he headed straight for his mom Naomi, who was ready to toast her son’s latest run on the Great White Way.

“It means a lot to have her here tonight,” Gyllenhaal told InStyle, when we caught up with him at the Moët and Chandon-hosted event, which also marked the reopening of N.Y.C.’s historic Hudson Theatre. In fact, the actor says it's the unwavering support from his mom—and all of the other strong women in his life—that has helped shape him into the man that he is today.

“Growing up, I was always surrounded by extraordinary women,” he said. “My grandmother, on my mother’s side, was one of the first female pediatricians in Brooklyn in the 1940s. And my great aunt was one of the first women to graduate from Columbia Law School. I was lucky to have them in my life. And when I think about it, I know I literally wouldn’t be here without them.”

VIDEO: See How Your Favorite Stars Celebrated International Women’s Day

Gyllenhaal’s sister, Maggie, who took in the evening performance of the musical alongside husband Peter Sarsgaard, has also has a big impact on her little bro’s life. In January, the two traveled to Washington D.C. together for the Women’s March, a movement that clearly affected them both.

“I was so proud to stand with the women, men, and children at the Women’s March on Washington,” the actor later said on Facebook. “After months of fear and shame, the gathering was full of joy, defiance, and hope. It was more clear than ever that women are the real stewards of our country’s soul, and I will continue to follow their lead and show up.”

Words that would make any mom proud.