Jake Gyllenhaal’s big break came in 2001, when he appeared in Bubble Boy and Donnie Darko. The actor had a few small roles in his childhood (see: City Slickers), but according to Gyllenhaal, he might have hit the mainstream even sooner — if only his parents had allowed him to do so.

In an interview with Howard Stern this week, Gyllenhaal told the story of the time his parents (director / producer Stephen Gyllenhaal and writer Naomi Foner) refused to let him star in Mighty Ducks, the 1992 hockey kids movie. Gyllenhaal was offered a part in the film, which starred a young Joshua Jackson, but his parents objected and the actor says, “I definitely remember crying on the kitchen counter. I was like, ‘You guys are crazy.’”

But he is grateful to the elder Gyllenhaals for forcing him to stay committed to school and put off serious acting commitments until later in life:

My parents were like, ‘Look, you’re about to enter junior high school, you gotta get your education, that’s the most important thing. I promise you, you hate us now, but you’ll thank us later,’ and I do.

Even with a couple of acting hiccups along the way (ahem, Prince of Persia), Gyllenhaal has established himself as an incredible leading man who fully immerses himself in his roles with films like Enemy, Nightcrawler and the recent Southpaw, for which he transformed his body and trained heavily to play a boxing champ.