Descended from Swedish nobility on her director father’s side, and Jewish intelligentsia via her screenwriter mother, the seriously talented and adorable Maggie Gyllenhaal is the best argument we know for show business nepotism. The beneficiary of a major confluence of both nature and nurture, together with brother Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie is one-half of what has to be the most lusted after brother-and-sister twosome of the 21st century. Born in New York City in 1977 and raised in Los Angeles, the extremely well educated Maggie attended North Hollywood’s exclusive (and expensive) Harvard-Westlake prep school, Columbia University and, just to top it off, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Her father, Steven Gyllenhaal, obeying the old truism that there’s nothing wrong with nepotism as long as you keep it in the family, gave Maggie her first major film roles in a pair of high-end dramas: “Waterland,” starring Jeremy Irons, and “A Dangerous Woman,” written by her mother, Naomi Foner. From there, Maggie kept on working and eventually was the beneficiary of a very logical piece of casting, getting the role of Elizabeth Darko opposite her brother’s title gig in “Donnie Darko.”
From there, Maggie stayed on the quirky train and wowed critics and indie audiences with a fascinating performance in the kinky black comedy, “Secretary,” in which she willingly endured spankings and more from costar James Spader. Though Maggie has since expressed mixed feelings about certain scenes in the film, some of which involved nudity, the complex role impressed just about everyone who saw it and made Maggie a favorite of both critics and mildly pervy males.
Since then, Maggie has kept busy in a mix of supporting and leading roles on film — more often than not in thoughtful and offbeat fare, while also performing on stage and even audio books. In 2006, she took a not very lengthy breather to have a baby with her fiancé, actor Peter Sarsgaard, before dodging some controversial post-9/11 remarks that came back to haunt her while promoting her role in Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center.” Still, there was nothing controversial about her sympathetic role opposite Will Ferrell’s possibly doomed Harold Crick in the underrated low-key comedy, “Stranger Than Fiction.” For some reason, Maggie has no problem playing highly intelligent, sensitive and beautiful woman.
Maggie Gyllenhaal on the Web
An online database of Maggie’s career.
Photos, interviews and news, as well as Maggie’s latest TV appearances.
More about Maggie’s life and work.
A highly detailed fan site devoted to the chipmunk-cheeked beauty. Lots of photos, a news blog, and more for the devoted Maggie booster.
Celebrity Teaser - Maggie Gyllenhaal
News, photos, videos and more of celebrities like Maggie.
“Maggie Gyllenhaal's steamy Agent Provocateur campaign revealed”
Leave it to the rapacious journos of the UK’s Daily Mail to take the lead in playing up some incredibly steamy, Bettie Page-like advertising glossies featuring Maggie.
On the Screen
When Maggie walks on screen, there’s always something going on. We’ve never seen her be less than fascinating, but her multi-faceted role in “Secretary” remains a landmark. If you can leave aside the kink and the nudity (and we know that’s not easy), it’s an astonishing piece of work.
Maggie can currently be seen stepping into the role of Rachel Dawes (originally played by Katie Holmes) in "The Dark Knight," while future projects include the Sam Mendes-directed comedy "Farlanders" and the romance "South Solitary."
While some complained about the change, we have no problem with it. None at all.
On her approach to acting:
"You have to fight. So many people are willing to sleepwalk through things and fall into the not human, not interesting choice".
On good “cool” and bad “cool”:
"There are two ways to be cool: One is to be disinterested and make it seem like you must be doing something much more interesting than everybody else if you are this disinterested. The other is to be extremely interested. You are not trying to please anyone, but you are really invested are really focused."
On why Maggie doesn’t really think like us:
“I think sex is very interesting for most people, but I'm interested in sex as a way of communication, I'm not that interested in the fantasy version of a sex scene.”