Maggie Gyllenhaal, 32, is the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner. Born in New York, Gyllenhaal went on to study literature at Columbia University. She made her feature film debut in her father’s movie Waterland and, a decade later, she received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the 2002 film Secretary. In 2007, she won a second nomination for SherryBaby. Her other movies include The Dark Knight and Away We Go. Her latest film is Crazy Heart Now out on DVDGyllenhaal is married to the actor Peter Saarsgard and they have a daughter.
1. When were you happiest?
The day after I got married.
3. What is your earliest memory?
I remember being tiny – I must have been less than three – and looking up at my mom who was standing up, really pregnant. We were both saying, “When is this baby going to come?” about my brother, Jake.
4. Which living person do you most admire and why?
Lately I am really admiring Emma Thompson. We worked together last summer for four months and I fell in love with her and I would like to be her when I grow up. Not only is she a brilliant actress and writer, she is also fundamentally a good person.
5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
The thing I am feeling proud of at the moment is that, as I am getting older, I feel like I’m getting more vulnerable. The part of myself that resists that, the part that is stubborn and wants to bulldoze through things, is getting in my way.
6. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Closed-mindedness, unwillingness to bend.
8. Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
I bought a very expensive bath tub, which we call the Batman Bathtub. It’s a freestanding, claw-foot bath tub made of wood by a Scottish barrel maker. (The Dark Knight paid for it.)
9. What is your most treasured possession?
My house in Brooklyn. I spend a lot of time learning how to keep a house – how to run it and how to decorate – and I love it.
10. Where would you like to live?
I am not totally sure. I am not going to stay in Brooklyn forever. I think both my husband and I would like to get out into the countryside, but I am not sure exactly where yet.
11. What would your super power be?
I’d like to fly.
13. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I am not crazy about my knees.
16. What is your most unappealing habit?
I do go on and off of smoking, which is just completely disgusting. I am pretty much done with it, but every once in a while I stupidly think I can just have one little bit of one little cigarette and then a week later I am buying a pack.
17. What is your favourite smell?
I like night-blooming jasmine and I like rose – I wear rose body oil.
19. What is your favourite book?
I usually don’t read books more than once, but I’ve read Another Country by James Baldwin three times, so maybe that.
22. Cat or dog?
Cat. I have two, George – a friend of mine said I wasted a very good human name on him, and Mono which means monkey in Spanish.
23. Is it better to give or to receive?
I think they are both nice.
24. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
25. What do you owe your parents?
I think my parents really love me. They have made a lot of mistakes and they continue to, but they do love me and that’s an amazing gift.
27. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family: my husband and my daughter are without a doubt the greatest loves of my life.
30. Have you ever said “I love you” without meaning it?
Yes, I probably have, here and there.
31. Which living person do you most despise and why?
I do my best not to put too much energy into despising people.
32. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
David Lynch, Nureyev, Chekhov, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Tony Kushner, James Baldwin, Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen.
34. What is the worst job you’ve ever done?
I’ve been a checkout girl at a grocery store; I’ve been a busgirl in a restaurant. Probably the worst job I’ve ever done though was an acting job, but I won’t say which one!
36. If you could edit your past, what would you change?
If I changed anything then I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I’m pretty happy with where I am now.
37. If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I’d like to be in Russia and be a part of the Moscow Art Theatre when Chekhov was writing.
38. When did you last cry, and why?
I cried on Tuesday for all sorts of reasons. As I get older I find I cry much more often than I did when I was younger.
39. How do you relax?
Baths, a glass of wine, yoga.
42. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Being in the countryside.
43. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
45. What song would you like played at your funeral?
Sam Cooke’s song, A Change Is Gonna Come.
47. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
I used to think that if I did my very best work – the bravest and the most crafted work – then every one would love it, but I’ve realised that not everybody thinks the same things are good. It took me thirty years to even begin to see that.
48. Where would you most like to be right now?
I’ve been to a beautiful beach in Costa Rica where I’d quite like to be right now.