Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly revealed he is very proud of the success Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal have gone on to have.

The Box director cast the now Oscar-nominated stars in his film in 2001 when they were virtually unknown.

Kelly revealed: “It was Jake’s second or third film I believe, and it was Maggie’s first film, and I just feel blessed to have gotten to be a part of their lives right at the very beginning.”

He added: “If Donnie Darko helped kind of shine a light on their talent and provide opportunities for them, it does make me very proud of them. I’m sure they would have found success regardless because of who they are. I feel so happy for them and see them both nominated for Oscars in different roles, to be doing so well and having these amazing careers.”

But Kelly revealed there was a time he thought Donnie Darko would never get released.

He said: “I always knew that I had something special, but when the film was initially released everyone said that it was a mess, it was incoherent, it was unreleasable. I remember when we showed it at Sundance for the first time. There was so much negativity, I just thought the film might not ever see the light of day.

“So to see it be rediscovered and to see it build into such a phenomenon over almost 10 years now, is something that’s been a huge deal for me.”