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At a point when sadomasochism is being explored in the best-selling novel Fifty Shades Of Grey, the Hollywood actress is now starring in yet another risqué film. She plays a women’s rights activist in Hysteria, a romantic comedy out next month about the invention of the vibrator.
Maggie, 34, who is married to Swedish actor Peter Sarsgaard and has two young daughters, told GARTH PEARCE how much she admires her mother.
“MY mum Naomi taught me that protection of her daughter, at all costs, is what counts.
“She was always ferocious against anyone who attacked me. It went on even to my adulthood.
“When I appeared in the film Secretary, with its strong sadomasochistic themes, she could have been horrified.
“But she ended up protecting me against Gloria Steinem (the American feminist) who wrote in the New York Times that the movie glorified pornography. She wrote back, defending it.
“My mum came from an older generation of feminists and had moved forward in a way in which Gloria Steinem had not.
“That does not mean to say she let me go into the movie without questions being asked.
“She was very wary of the director of Secretary and asked me: “What the f*** is going on?”
“But she respected that I wanted to keep the content of that film to myself. Unlike my brother, Jake, (Brokeback Mountain star Jake Gyllenhaal) who invites all his friends to visit his movie sets, I can’t stand having anyone I know around when I am acting. It would not — and does not — feel right.
“My mother wrote scripts (she was Oscar-nominated for Running On Empty) and my father, Stephen, directed films.
“So they both know the problems with films which focus on sex — and were concerned for me. When my mum watched Secretary, which is a complicated, hard movie, she did so while giving me total support. That meant everything.
“She is not puritanical, nor has she ever given me a lecture on morals. She came with me to the film’s launch at the Deauville Festival in France and met the director, Steven Shainberg.
“Her attitude was: “This guy is the first to give my daughter a chance and he’s going to be a friend of mine.”
“I had been turned down for parts in the past because I was not conventionally pretty or sexy enough.
“I remained tough on the outside and would say things like, “You must have a boring idea of what beautiful or sexy is.”
“On the inside, of course, that’s a tough thing to hear.
“It was my mum who convinced me I was both pretty and sexy so I had the strength to deal with those criticisms.
“She had also taught me that Hollywood is not glamorous. It can be wonderful but it can also be hurtful and tough.
“This is why I am probably more interested in political issues (Maggie campaigns for human rights) and enjoy working for charities. My career took off after Secretary. With Hysteria, it’s about the invention of a sex toy in Victorian England which was used by doctors on women. It is controversial but also fun and historically accurate.
“I was not shocked. Don’t forget the script for Secretary was sent to me by my agent with a note which warned: “You might be appalled.”
“I read it and saw my boss had to smack my bare bottom in one scene. So that really did concentrate the mind.
“Mum did not judge us when we were growing up. She had an artistic approach to life, which I admire. It made me feel relaxed about love. I found that being in love was important to me. I always felt happier when in love.
“I had the same boyfriend for five years before Secretary came out in 2002.
“I think we were involved in a young way, fantasising about what it was like to be in love and trying to live up to it.
“I had great times, too, when I was single and searching.
“I did not find many people who I was interested in, to be honest. Only a couple captured me, in the sense that I wanted to know more about them.
“My husband? We met at a dinner party. He did not know who I was but I knew his work a little bit. It was love at first sight, for me. I just wanted to be alone with him.
“As for being a mother myself, I will support and protect my girls as my own mum did with myself. I have been set a fine example.”
From the outside looking in, Maggie Gyllenhaal thought she could pick a perfect parent out of a crowd.
“I used to be judgmental of the way other people would parent,” the actress, 34, shares in Scholastic Parent & Child‘s August/September issue.
“I would look at someone talking on a cell phone while her baby was asleep in a stroller and think, ‘How can that mother have her cell phone out?’”
But shortly after the birth of daughter Ramona in 2006, as a new member of the motherhood club, Gyllenhaal found her perceptions on parenting suddenly shifting.
“Then you actually have a baby and you’re like, ‘She’s sleeping; I have 10 minutes; I’ll make three phone calls,” she says.
“I think so much of my judgment — not only about how people parent, but about people in general — went away when I became a mom.”
Aside from her newfound approach toward other mothers, Gyllenhaal — who in addition to Ramona, 5½, is also mom to daughter Gloria Ray, 4 months, with husband Peter Sarsgaard — also came to a realization regarding her own parenting powers.
“I was 28 when Ramona was born, and I had this idea that I think a lot of people in their twenties have, that I was supposed to do it perfectly. At least, if not perfectly, then exceptionally well,” she admits.
“I’ve realized that that isn’t possible and that part of being a human is making mistakes — and making lots of them.”
And while Gyllenhaal understands “the element of parenting where you have to be a mom and say no,” she is thoroughly enjoying her blossoming relationship with her mini-me, Ramona.
“The fun part is being with this little person and learning about the world and listening to her questions,” she explains.
“She comes and runs errands with me and we make it fun. When we talk, she talks like a person. She knows the words that she needs. She’ll ask me if she doesn’t. I like that.”
An advocate for a strong education — it’s “one of the most important gifts you can give your kids,” she states — the Won’t Back Down star is looking forward to her daughters’ intellectual futures … with one exception!
“Besides literature, I liked history. I had trouble with math, though,” Gyllenhaal admits.
“I kind of faked my way through it. I don’t know how I’m going to help my daughters with it when the time comes.”
Following Warner Bros.’ move to push Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby from this December to next summer, Sony Pictures has also moved up Roland Emmerich’s White House Down more than four months from November 1, 2013 to June 28, 2013.
20th Century Fox’s The Internship and Universal’s R.I.P.D. are also scheduled for June 28.
White House Down stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins and Joey King and concerns a para-military takeover of the White House.
The film has a similar theme as Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, starring Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler. That project is about an ex-Secret Service agent who must defend the White House from terrorists, so Sony might be trying to hit theaters first.
Want to make men uncomfortable? Just mention vibrators.
That’s the lesson of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s press tour the last couple of days, where she’s made the late-night men all kinds of uneasy describing the plot of her new movie, Hysteria. It takes place in Victorian England and documents the true events that led to a doctor accidentally inventing the vibrator to cure women of their “hysteria” — a catch-all misdiagnosis. (Read EW’s review of the film).
Last night Gyllenhaal was on The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart tried to talk to her about the film’s subject in a supportive and adult manner — and completely failed.
Watch Stewart struggle below:
But Stewart’s not alone. The night before, Gyllenhaal was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Fallon struggled to control the interview as well, jokingly fanning himself and dropping things off his desk. Gyllenhaal, for her part, looked like she was having a total blast watching these guys try and keep it together.
Check out Fallon’s video below — the Hysteria talk starts at 2:25:
I’ve made so many mistakes that have been helpful in my life. I make them all the time in trying to do everything. It’s impossible not to. I’m not perfect at all—as a wife, as a mother, as an actress.
When I made Crazy Heart in 2008, that was the first time I really went back to work after having my first child, and that movie was so intense that I lost touch with some motherly stuff and was just in the world of the movie. Even trying to figure out what was for dinner was tough. My husband, Peter, was going to work in London a lot of the time, and Crazy Heart was the type of movie that you’d shoot in three weeks and be out drinking tequila with the director and Jeff Bridges till three in the morning. We had to make a real relationship together in order for that one to work. Peter said to me, “You go and do whatever you need to do.” But my daughter wasn’t cool with that: she was still going to wake up at 6:30 a.m.
Within the same year, I made Nanny McPhee in London. I went and rehearsed for a week, got married, went on a two-day honeymoon, and we started shooting. It was a long, four-month shoot. I had a 2-year-old, too. But I was and am in love with Emma Thompson, who wrote and starred in the film. I wanted to please her and be friends.
One day, we went over to her house for brunch, and afterward I was going to see Ornette Coleman, who’s a big jazz musician. I wasn’t that into Coleman, but he’s one of my husband’s favorites. Emma was so shocked that I was going out that night on a date with my husband, but Peter really wanted to go. The concert was awesome, and I hadn’t been out that late.
I went to work the next day, and it was a huge day: acting with children, animals, tons of props, and a long scene with lots of talking. I thought it went fine. But at the end of the day, the producer came up to me and said, “Would you like me to get someone to help you with your lines?” I said, “No, I’m OK,” and then went into the makeup trailer and burst into tears. I couldn’t stop crying.
Emma comes in and says, “What’s the matter?” I told her what happened. She said to me, “You’re a new wife, you have a 2-year-old, you’ve been shooting this movie for four months. You’re going to f–k up! It’s OK. And you didn’t know your lines that well today.” That was the first time that I realized that being good at everything at the same time isn’t possible. Hearing Emma, someone who is so incredibly talented and wise, say that really stuck with me. Something has to give, you know? I can’t break down and get horribly defensive when someone is telling me I need a little help. I just try to do my best.
But now that we had another child in April, I don’t know how I’m going to do it. Peter turned to me the other day and said, “How are either of us going to work now?” I have no idea.
Just last night, we heard that Jamie Foxx will likely take on the role of the President of the United States in Independence Day director Roland Emmerich’s White House Down. The film, described as “Die Hard in the White House,” stars Channing Tatum as a single father Secret Service agent tasked with protecting the president when bad guys initiate a hostile takeover of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Now it looks like Tatum will be getting some help from the fairer sex, since Variety reports The Dark Knight star Maggie Gyllenhaal is enlisting as a fellow agent, securing the female lead in the movie. More below!
Aside from the aforementioned Batman film, Gyllenhaal hasn’t been featured in many big action dramas, so it will be interesting to see her suit up and get some true action experience under her belt. She’s better known for her quiet but strong performances, so she should provide an interesting counterpoint to Tatum, who’s been having a breakout year and developed much more of a charismatic on-screen persona recently.
Production on White House Down begins this August and a release date has been set for November 1st, 2013, so it looks like this will be the first of the two competing White House action movies to hit the big screen. The other movie is Olympus is Fallen from director Antoine Fuqua with Gerard Butler attached as the lead, but there haven’t been nearly as many updates from that project since it was announced and unless we see some Snow White & The Huntsman/Mirror, Mirror style schedule shuffling happening on the calendar next year, we’ll likely see White House Down hitting the big screen first