Maggie Gyllenhaal - biography
Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Gyllenhaal ( /ˈdʒɪlənhɔːl/; born November 16, 1977) is an American actress. She is the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal (née Achs) and the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. She made her screen debut when she began to appear in her father's films. Gyllenhaal achieved recognition in a supporting role in the indie cult hit Donnie Darko (2001). Her breakthrough role was in the 2002 sadomasochistic romance Secretary, for which she received critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination.
Gyllenhaal has appeared in an eclectic range of films, including the indie film Sherrybaby (2006), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe, the romantic comedy Trust the Man (2006), and big-budget films such as World Trade Center (2006) and The Dark Knight (2008). She next starred in the 2009 musical-drama Crazy Heart, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Gyllenhaal has also appeared in theatrical plays, including Closer (2000), and television productions, including Strip Search (2004).
Gyllenhaal has been in a relationship with actor Peter Sarsgaard since 2002. In 2006 the two became engaged, and Gyllenhaal gave birth to their daughter, Ramona, on October 3, 2006. On May 2, 2009, she married Sarsgaard in Italy. The second daughter, Gloria Ray, was born April, 19, 2012. Gyllenhaal is a politically active Democrat and, like her brother and parents, supports the American Civil Liberties Union. Prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq she participated in anti-war demonstrations. She is actively involved in human rights, civil liberty, and anti-poverty campaigns.
Gyllenhaal was born in New York City to film director Stephen Gyllenhaal and film producer and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal (née Achs). Jake Gyllenhaal, her younger brother, is also an actor. Her father, who was raised in the Swedenborgian religion, is of Swedish and English ancestry, and is a member of the Swedish noble Gyllenhaal family. Her last purely Swedish ancestor was her great-grandfather, a descendant of Leonard Gyllenhaal, a leading Swedenborgian who supported the printing and spreading of Swedenborg's writings. Her mother is Jewish (with ancestors from Russia and Lithuania), from New York City, and is the ex-wife of Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia University. Gyllenhaal has stated that she "grew up mostly Jewish, culturally", though she did not attend Hebrew school. Her parents, who married in 1977, filed for divorce in October 2008.
Gyllenhaal grew up in Los Angeles and studied at the Harvard–Westlake prep school. In 1995 she graduated from Harvard–Westlake and moved to New York to attend Columbia University, where she studied literature and Eastern religions; she graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, she took a summer job working as a waitress in a Massachusetts restaurant.
Career Early work
Gyllenhaal's first films – her feature film debut at the age of 15, Waterland (1992); A Dangerous Woman (1993); and Homegrown (1998) – were directed by her father; the last two also featured her brother; they had supporting roles as children. With their mother, she and Jake appeared in two episodes of Molto Mario, an Italian cooking show on the Food Network. After graduating from college, she played supporting roles in films like Cecil B. Demented (2000) and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). Gyllenhaal later achieved recognition in her own right playing her real brother's on-screen sister in the indie cult hit Donnie Darko (2001).
She made her theatrical debut in the Berkeley Repertory Theatre production of Patrick Marber's Closer, for which she received favorable reviews. Production started in May 2000 and ended in mid-July of that year. Gyllenhaal has performed in several other plays, including The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Butterfly Project, and No Exit.
Gyllenhaal's break-out role was in the black comedy Secretary (2002), a film about two people who embark on a mutually fulfilling BDSM lifestyle. New York Times critic Stephen Holden noted: "The role of Lee, which Maggie Gyllenhaal imbues with a restrained comic delicacy and sweetness, should make her a star." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "Maggie Gyllenhaal, as the self-destructive secretary, is enigmatic and, at moments, sympathetic." The film received generally favorable reviews, and Gyllenhaal's performance earned her the Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, her first Golden Globe nomination, and an Independent Spirit Award nomination. Secretary was Gyllenhaal's first film role which featured full frontal nudity. Although impressed with the script, she initially had some qualms about doing the film, which she believed could deliver an anti-feminist message. Yet after carefully discussing the script with the film's director, Steven Shainberg, she agreed to join the project. Although insisting Shainberg did not exploit her, Gyllenhaal has said she felt "scared when filming began" and that "in the wrong hands ... even in just slightly less intelligent hands, this movie could say something really weird." Since then, she is guarded about discussing her role in the film, saying only that "despite myself, sometimes the dynamic that you are exploring in your work spills over into your life."
She next played a supporting role in the comedy-drama Adaptation. (2002), a film that tells the story of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's struggle to adapt The Orchid Thief into a film. She later appeared in the unauthorized biography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), part of an ensemble cast that included Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts. The movie grossed $33 million worldwide. That same year, she had a smaller role in the comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights.
In 2003 she co-starred with Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile in the role of Giselle. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, she revealed the reason for accepting the role was "to play somebody who feels confident in herself as a sexy, beautiful woman". The film generated mostly critical reviews, with Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times describing it as "smug and reductive". Her next roles were in smaller independent films: Casa de los Babys (2003), a story about six American women impatiently waiting out their lengthy residency requirements in an unidentified South American country before picking up their adoptive babies, and Criminal (2004), a remake of the Argentinian film Nine Queens, with John C. Reilly and Diego Luna. Gyllenhaal plays an honest hotel manager forced to help her crooked brother (Reilly) by seducing one of his victims. Gyllenhaal was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2004. She starred in the HBO film Strip Search (2004), where she portrayed an American student in China suspected of terrorism.
In 2004 Gyllenhaal returned to theater in a Los Angeles production of Tony Kushner's Homebody/ Kabul as Priscilla, the Homebody's daughter, who spends most of the play searching for her elusive mother in Kabul, Afghanistan. Kushner gave her the role in Homebody/ Kabul on the strength of her performance in Closer. Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote: "Ms. Gyllenhaal provides the essential bridge between the parts of the play's title." John Heilpern of The New York Observer noted that Gyllenhaal's performance was "compelling". Viewed as a sex symbol, she was ranked in the "Hot 100 List" by Maxim magazine in 2004 and 2005.
Gyllenhaal's next film role was in the 2005 comedy-drama Happy Endings, in which she played an adventuress singer who seduces a young gay musician (Jason Ritter) as well as his rich father (Tom Arnold). She recorded songs for the movie's soundtrack, calling the role the "roughest, scariest acting ever" and adding she is more natural when singing on screen than when acting. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly declared Gyllenhaal's performance "as wonderfully, naturally slouchy-sexy as her character is artificial".