Maggie Gyllenhaal, 32, was born in New York, the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal. She made her film debut in 1992, in her father’s Waterland, and a decade later won a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Secretary. In 2007, she was nominated again for SherryBaby. Her new film, Crazy Heart, is out on 19 February. She is married to the actor Peter Sarsgaard and they have a daughter.
When were you happiest?
The day after I got married.
What is your earliest memory?
I was tiny, less than three, looking up at my mom, who was pregnant. We were saying, “When is this baby going to come?” about my brother, Jake.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
The older I get, the more vulnerable I get. But the part of me that resists that, that is stubborn and wants to bulldoze things, gets in my way.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
A wooden bathtub, which we call the Batman Bathtub (The Dark Knight paid for it).
What is your most treasured possession?
My house in Brooklyn. I love it.
Where would you like to live?
Both my husband and I would like to get out into the countryside.
What would your super power be?
I’d like to fly.
What is your most unappealing habit?
I do go on and off smoking, which is just completely disgusting.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I am not crazy about my knees.
What do you owe your parents?
I think they really love me, and that’s an amazing gift.
Have you ever said “I love you” and not meant it?
Yes, I probably have.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
David Lynch, Nureyev, Chekhov, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Tony Kushner, James Baldwin, Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen.
What is the worst job you’ve done?
An acting job, but I won’t say which.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
If I changed anything, I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I’m pretty happy with where I am.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To be a part of the Moscow Art Theatre when Chekhov was writing.
When did you last cry, and why?
I cried last Tuesday for all sorts of reasons. As I get older, I find I cry much more often than I did.
How do you relax?
Bath, a glass of wine, yoga.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Being in the countryside.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
I used to think that if I did my very best work, then everyone would love it, but I’ve realised that not everybody thinks the same things are good. It took me 30 years even to begin to see that.