Jonathan Cake is the youngest of three sons of a glass merchant and a teacher. In his childhood, he came up with the art of Pantomimens in touch. Thus his interest in the performing arts was awakened. Up to the age of eight, he took on acting classes and performed in many plays. In his youth he traveled with the National Youth Theatre of London. After high school he attended the University of Cambridge, where he graduated in 1989. In college he was a rugby player. He made a two-year training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and worked then with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
His first experience in television he made in 1993 in the British comedy series Press Gang. He had another television appearance in 1994 Carrott U Like by BBC. The following year, he played a small role in the film The first knight on the side of Sean Connery, Richard Gere and Julia Ormond. After another small appearances in 1995 he became cast as Gareth in Degrees of Error. He also played a major role in the historical drama Mosley. In 2005 he played the Sertorius in the U.S. miniseries Empire. He achieved fame by the role of Chuck Vance in the last two seasons of the television series Desperate Housewives.
Cake married in 2004, the actress Julianne Nicholson, with whom he had a son (* 2007) and a daughter (* 2009).