Jake McLaughlin was born in Paradise, California. He worked on a crab boat in Oregon and as a security guard at Universal Studios before joining the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, where he served as a dismount infantry S.A.W. (Squad Automatic Weapon) gunner during the invasion of Iraq which, in turn, make him a qualified expert marksman on the M-249 S.A.W., M-240 BRAVO, 50 CAL. machine gun, and the M-16 & M-4 assault rifles.
For his efforts, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal and four army achievement medals for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also his photo was featured in a 2003 issue of Soldier Of Fortune magazine and in 2004 he was written about by author David Zucchino in Thunder Run, a novel about the push to Baghdad.
After his stint in Iraq he was living in Chico, California, doing concrete work when he heard about the casting session for In the Valley of Elah, specifically the part that Paul Haggis was auditioning actual vets for several parts. He was cast as Specialist Gordon Bonner, the most remorseful of a group of squad members that threaten and ultimately participate in the death of a former infantry member, in this film that explores themes including the Iraq war, abuse of prisoners, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following active combat.
Since then, this Iraq War veteran turned Hollywood actor film credits have been expanded with titles like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Cloverfield and Warrior and has appeared in several TV productions including Cold Case, Heroes, Criminal Minds, Leverage, CSI: Miami, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Unit, and his first leading role as Bo in the show Crash.
- Warrior (2010) - Mark Bradford
- Grey's Anatomy - Sympathy for the Parents (2010) TV episode - Aaron Karev
- NCIS: Los Angeles - Full Throttle (2010) TV episode - Keith Rush
- Crash - 12 episodes (2009) TV episodes - Bo
- The Philanthropist - San Diego (2009) TV episode - Cpl. Michael Whitmere
- Cold Case - The Long Blue Line and Into the Blue (2009) TV episodes - James Addison
- Chasing a Dream (2009) (TV) - John Van Horn
- Heroes - Chapter Eight 'Into Asylum' (2009) TV episode - Sligo
- Criminal Minds - "Brothers in Arms" (2008) TV episode - Officer Tom Kayser
- The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) - Soldier
- Leverage - The Homecoming Job (2008) TV episode - Cpl. Robert Perry
- CSI: Miami - Won't Get Fueled Again (2008) TV episode - Sam Laughlin
- Cloverfield (2008) (voice) (unaccredited) - Helicopter pilot
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - A La Carta (2007) TV episode - Matt Bartley
- The Unit - Pandemonium: Part 1 (2007) TV episode - Prison Guard
- In the Valley of Elah (2007) - Spc. Gordon Bonner
- For an up-to-date Filmography: Jake McLaughlin
- He is a nephew of commercial actor Kevin Gregg.
- He is a huge fan of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, who directed such films as The Seven Samurai and the Hidden Fortress.