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Maggie Gyllenhaal says her brother Jake gave her advice on dealing with this year’s Oscar ceremony.
The star has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in movie Crazy Heart.
“I hope this isn’t too much of a downer, but the one thing he did say to me, before I was nominated actually, was, ‘There isn’t actually anything at the end of the rainbow, it’s a lot of fun, just enjoy it’,” Maggie revealed at the Academy Award Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills.
Maggie also paid tribute to her Crazy Heart co-star Jeff Bridges, who has been nominated for a Best Actor gong.
“I think we really do love each other,” she said.
“We work very similarly. I count him as a teacher of mine. We just kind of responded to each other, which is what you always want to do.
“And unless you are working with someone as brilliant and open as Jeff Bridges, it’s not always possible.
“I’ve cried on his shoulder. We really are friends.”
When the nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced on February 2, there was one bonafide surprise acting nomination: Maggie Gyllenhaal in writer-director Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart for Best Supporting Actress. In the tradition of Laura Linney in The Savages or Marcia Gay Harden in Mystic River, Gyllenhaal, with virtually no precursor support from critic’s organizations during awards season, landed an out of nowhere Oscar nom that left just about everybody buzzing. The Oscars being a kind of family tradition, Maggie joined brother Jake (Supporting Actor, Brokeback Mountain) and mom Naomi Foner (Best Original Screenplay, Running on Empty) in the nominees club against the odds, trumping such favorites as Samantha Morton (The Messenger), Julianne Moore (A Single Man) and Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds) for the coveted spot in the final five.
It was a foregone conclusion that star Jeff Bridges would land amongst the nominees for Best Actor, having justifiably received the lion’s share of critical praise has been heaped onto the veteran performer for his towering turn as grizzled country musician “Bad Blake” (he is the favorite to win on Oscar night), Gyllenhaal’s beleagured single mother journalist Jean Craddock has flown decidedly under the radar until now. It is the benchmark of any great character actress to be able to achieve this kind of subtlety and nuance opposite showier turns such as Bridges’. Jean is a bit of a mystery in Crazy Heart. We know she’s had bad luck with men. We know she has a young son. She has a fledgling career as a music journalist. Other than that, Gyllenhall wisely chooses to leave a few deliberate loose ends dangling in the wind, making Jean a little bit of a mystery, but also positing her directly in the moment. “Maggie kind of approaches it like I do,” said Bridges when I spoke with him this past December in New York. “Which is, getting to know the people you’re playing with as much as you can so you can bring some of that genuine friendship and caring you know, up to the screen.”
In addition to chatting up The Dude, I also had the chance to speak with the effortlessly striking Ms. Gyllenhaal during Crazy Heart‘s Midtown Manhattan press junket as she addressed throngs of reporters while the film bowed in select theaters for awards consideration in December. “I wanted to work,” emphasized Gyllenhaal. “I had so much built up, you know?” Jean is a carefree young woman ruled by romance and her emotions up to a point, but also one with a clear direction and one who knows when romance is not enough to sustain a life. “I think she doesn’t think, a lot,” said the actress. “She acts so recklessly throughout this movie and that’s how I was. I just went with what felt good and just didn’t think. And then she gets smacked across the face.” Who hasn’t been there? Unlucky in love, unlucky in her profession but eager to let these new experiences shape her without ripping her life apart. Jean is a universal character that audiences will easily empathize with. That Gyllenhaal’s everywoman single mom Jean doesn’t get completely swallowed up opposite such a rapacious, colorful character such as “Bad”, and that she grounds “Bad”‘s flights of alcoholic fancy in earthy realism are a testament to the actresses strength and skill.
Maggie Gyllenhaal admits she wasn?t that impressed when younger brother Jake casually decided to follow in her footsteps and become an actor ? especially when he scored the title role in the 2001 cult classic Donnie Darko and looked set to be the star of the siblings.
His sister – who, as a teenager, used to boss him into taking part in her lounge room productions of Cats – got her own back a year later when she starred in Secretary.
Her daring portrayal of a disturbed woman who embarks on a sadomasochistic relationship with her boss led to a Golden Globe nod. Suddenly, it was game on for brother and sister.
“My brother and I used to be competitive when we were younger,” muses the 32-year-old. “But now I feel we’re different enough, old enough and love each other enough that competition feels like a waste of time.”
It helps that the pair have each carved their own successful – if slightly different – careers. With his leading man looks, Jake has specialised in big-budget hits, such as The Day After Tomorrow and Brokeback Mountain.
Meanwhile, his sister, with her slightly quirkier image, has reigned as the queen of indie, gathering kudos in smaller films such as SherryBaby and Happy Endings.
So it’s all happy families these days, except when it comes to cooking. It turns out Gyllenhaal junior, who recently split from actor Reese Witherspoon, is a fantastic cook and Maggie – a self-confessed perfectionist – will reluctantly concede she’s not in the same league.
“He’s exceptional – as good a cook as he is an actor,” she admits. “He was just here for the holidays and he cooked a lot. I have basic skills – I know how to steam vegetables and make pasta and salads – but I’m not so good at the harder stuff. I’d like to learn how to easily cook up something really great.”
I suggest that the test of a person’s skill in the kitchen is whether they can whip up “something great” without following a recipe.
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