Most moviegoers think of comic-book flicks as an escape from real life. Maggie Gyllenhaal sees “The Dark Knight” as an escape to a model for a better life.
“Many, many people will go and see this movie – I hope,” says Gyllenhaal, who plays Gotham prosecutor Rachel Dawes, and while they may go for the thrills, gadgets and vehicles, “they’ll walk out of the movie having learned something, I think, about justice and morality and how heroic it is to work toward making the community you live in a better place.”
After stepping into the role of Rachel, whom Katie Holmes played in “Batman Begins,” in “The Dark Knight,” Gyllenhaal should know something about civic-minded crusaders. Rachel is the true love of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), aka Batman, but she is involved with straight-arrow district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
That’s rough – having to choose between Eckhart and Bale, two of Hollywood’s best-looking leading men.
“It’s awful, isn’t it?” Gyllenhaal says with a giggle. “I know that I’m the envy of many women. I’m a lucky girl. Believe me, I don’t take it for granted.”
Not that her real-life fiance, actor Peter Sarsgaard, father of Gyllenhaal’s 21-month-old daughter, Ramona, has cause to feel jealousy.
“Peter knows where my true heart lies,” says Gyllenhaal, 30.
The actress, elder sister of “Zodiac” star Jake Gyllenhaal, is better known for starring in offbeat or gritty films such as “Secretary,” “SherryBaby” and “Stranger Than Fiction” than in summer blockbusters. But she says she’s tried to be open to more mainstream films.
“It’s funny with those things like that,” she says by phone from Los Angeles. “I think the right one for you finds you. I think my instincts have led me pretty well.”
Big-budget films can touch people as much as independent movies can, she says.
“I was so glad to find out when I finally got to see (‘The Dark Knight’) that the millions and millions of dollars that were spent on this movie and the effort and the thought and the heart that was put into it by so many people didn’t end up making something that was just fluff,” she says. “That really, ultimately, the movie is about something important. The way I feel is, I make a lot of movies – I have made a lot of movies – that very few people saw, and they were all the people that believe exactly the same thing that I believe. And I’m just not as interested in that anymore. I want to make movies that might change someone’s mind. I want to make movies that will open people’s hearts and open people’s minds. In order to do that, I think you have to make movies that a lot of people see, and I think this is a perfect example of that.”