When Maggie Gyllenhaal grins, you don’t just see it, you feel it. Perhaps that’s why Duracell picked the movie actress to be the celebrity spokesperson for its fund-raising initiative “Power a Smile.” The concept’s simple: For every photo of a child showing off pearly whites uploaded to the site this holiday season, Duracell will donate $1 to Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Looking trim and chic (despite the beginnings of a cold), Gyllenhaal kicked off the campaign with the help of five young ambassadors, who helped her wrap presents to bring to kids spending the season in the hospital. Afterward, the two-time Golden Globe nominee chatted with Time Out Kids about her most important role: playing mom to her two-year-old Ramona.
Why did you decide to become involved with this particular charity?
I’ve been fortunate enough not to be in too many hospitals so far in my life. I have been in some, sometimes with children, and it’s always really difficult. Now that I have a child, I feel so much more interested in making sure that all children are as happy as they can be. Since I’m lucky enough to have the time and the freedom to help people—particularly children–who need it, I think I have to do it.
You were born in New York City but grew up in California. Do you feel strongly about raising Ramona in the Big Apple?
No! [Laughs] That’s a terrible thing to say to you, right? My boyfriend [actor Peter Sarsgaard] and I are leaning toward maybe getting out of here…in a few years. We’d love to move to the country. But there are wonderful things about being in the city. It’s really easy to get your kid together with other kids. We go to Music for Aardvarks and dance class. We have all these little things we do in Brooklyn that we love, and Ramona can run around with the other children. And just the other day, we read in Time Out Kids, actually, that Elizabeth Mitchell was singing so we caught the train and went to see her at the last minute. There’s so much to do.
So what’s the downside of raising her here?
While the city’s great when you’re older, with a two-year-old I definitely feel like I’m stopping her every minute and saying, “Don’t pick up that cigarette butt! You know that’s disgusting!” instead of just letting her be a little freer, like I imagine we could if we lived in the country. Also, if I can rant for a moment, I do not understand how I’m expected to take the subway with a two-year-old alone! It’s so hard. My subway station closes its gates and the attendant leaves on the weekend, and I have to fold up my stroller, pick up Ramona and go through one of those little circular things. I mean I’m thinking of…if I had another child I don’t know how I would do it. I know that there are many women who have more than one kid and have to do it. I just don’t know how they make it work! Why can’t the subway be made more child-friendly? I’m a big fan of public transportation, but it’s just so hard.
Have you started looking into schools for your daughter?
Yes. And while we’re not totally freaking out, I have spent a lot of time thinking about schools for her. I would say I spent my entire fall, really, researching which schools I wanted to apply to for her. I put more energy into that than almost anything I can think of recently.
You’ve managed to continue your busy movie career since your daughter was born. Have you ever thought about quitting and becoming a stay-at-home mom?
No, I don’t think I could do that, but do I think about things in a completely different way now that I’m a mom. I have to make all sorts of sacrifices, and sometimes there are sacrifices I don’t want to make but that I have to make because I’m a mother. Like there was a project I wanted to do but I didn’t have a nanny [at the time], so I had to let it go. Then there’s the other side of it, where I’ll read a bunch of scripts that are not even close to good enough for me to justify being away from Ramona all day, whereas before, I’d read a script and think, Yeah this is kind of interesting, I’ll give it a shot. Now it has to be amazing.
I remember reading a story about the paparazzi hounding you as you went into labor and a few days after you gave birth. What’s your worst experience with shutterbugs involving your daughter?
You know, I kind of got told to stop talking about [the paparazzi]. I thought that it was helping things to say, “Look at this awful thing that’s happening!” But I think it actually kind of feeds the drama and I would rather not do that. It’s gotten much better since we moved to Brooklyn anyway. The photographers don’t really care about us enough to cross the bridge