World famous actress Maggie Gyllenhaal had never met Howard before – until this morning! She's been in two of the biggest movies of all time, but she admitted that meeting Howard was meeting 'a cultural icon. I'm catching my breath!'
She composed herself and sat down to talk realistically and honestly about a life and career in Hollywood.
Maggie, as you probably know, is the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal and they grew up with a director father and a screenwriter mother.
Maggie wanted to be an actress from an early age, but her brother blew up first, while she was attending college at Columbia University. Howard has always been curious about siblings going into the same business and Maggie admitted that there was a little jealousy, which was normal.
Her brother got her a job in his breakout movie Donnie 'Darko' and the two of them have a good close relationship. Maggie even hung out with the late Heath Ledger when he was co-starring with Jake in the legendary 'Brokeback Mountain' (as opposed to hanging out with him on the set of 'The Dark Knight', which they co-starred in, but had few scenes together).
Maggie's break-out role was the movie 'Secretary' co-starring James Spader. 'I was so freaked out by that movie,' Howard said. 'It was one of the most strange movies ever.' Maggie said that she responded to the script right away and got the role (after five other 'name' actresses turned it down).
Her co-star, James Spader, really got into their roles as dominating boss and submissive secretary - she talked about him gently caressing the back of her knee between takes. One day, on set, he asked for a box of very expensive chocolates to be delivered to his trailer. Later, a Production Assistant knocked on Maggie's door and told her Mr. Spader wanted to see her. She walked in and he offered her one of the chocolates. 'It was a total game, a fetishized thing.'
A few years later, Maggie starred in Oliver Stone's controversial movie 'World Trade Center'. Oliver had a unique working method and would say things like 'you were so good this morning and now you're awful.' Eventually, Maggie responded with 'Well, can you help me?'
Her one regret about the movie is not playing one small scene – where her character has to run to the drug store – as hopeful rather than worried.
'The Dark Knight' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' are two movies that you definitely must have seen (if not, come ON!). Maggie's role was originally played by Katie Holmes in 'Batman Begins' and she doesn't know why Katie didn't sign on to the two follow-up films (the long-standing rumor is that her then-husband Tom Cruise influenced her to not do the project).
She was reluctant to take the role because she had a newborn and thought that a huge blockbuster would take up too much of her time. What she found was that the big-budget movies are easier; it's the small independent films where every second counts and you can't break to feed your baby.
Nowadays, while not working on various projects, Maggie hangs out in Brooklyn with her husband, Peter Sarsgaard and their kids. She takes them to school and play dates and even volunteers at their local Co-op grocery store.
She also occasionally smokes cigarettes, but her habit is not out of control. Check out Maggie's new mini-series 'The Honorable Woman' on The Sundance Channel.