Maggie Gyllenhaal | Apiece Apart Woman
When actress Maggie Gyllenhaal walks in the door, she feels familiar. It's more than just that experience of "recognizing" but not knowing someone in the public eye. It's a grounded warmth, an understanding — Gyllenhaal, who has long lived in Brooklyn and is a regular fixture at the farmer's market and on the Park Slope streets, has just returned from a trip to London with her daughter. She speaks about life, lately: how to allocate time for work versus time at home with her family; how to be an outspoken yet thoughtful advocate for rights that matter (she is an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU); how to navigate through the world with self-awareness and tact.
Below — a conversation with Maggie on what matters to her, what has shaped her, and what continues to inspire.
Photographed by Tim Hout at MATTER
Above: Maggie wears the Aroussa Jumpsuit in Black and the Suenos Rug Art Coat — call 646 455 0346 to order. Earrings by Kathleen Whitaker
How do you navigate between the public and private parts of your identity?
The same way everyone does, I think.
How do you balance work and travel with finding time to rest and regroup?
I try to build in a day to hang out and rest when I travel. Even more, if I'm traveling with my kids. Packing well makes me feel good. I start packing (mostly in my mind) almost a week before I travel.
What is a typical evening at home like for you?
We usually cook and have dinner together, give the kids a bath, help with homework, get them to bed. Then I'll hang out with my husband for a while.
What are some cultural touchstones you consider a part of who you are today — i.e.: what specific films, books, artists, places, etc., have been most influential in shaping you?
"Silkwood," Copenhagen, "La Dolce Vita," Virginia Wolfe, The Days of Abandonment, Film Forum, "A Woman Under the Influence," "West Side Story," Gillian Welch, Another Country, Patti Smith, Anna Karenina, Nick Cave
What was the last great thing you read?
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Sula by Toni Morrison
Did you attend of the Women’s Marches around the country? If so, what was that experience like for you?
Yes, I was in D.C. with my feminist girlfriends! It was amazing. Driving down from New York we'd pass cars and rest stops full of women in pink pussy hats. (At first I didn't know what they were!) Trump had just been inaugurated and within a few hours he removed the Civil Rights page, the Climate Change Page, and the LGBTQ page from the White House homepage. So everyone felt mobilized and angry at the same time. And it was all expressed at the Women's March with a kind of unity I've never seen before. And it continues to be amazing how much power the resistance has. We have actually changed policy (look at the Muslim ban and the health care bill). I think it's possible that the overwhelming and engaging resistance to Trump's terrifying presidency could be a triumph for democracy. We as Americans won't lie down and take corruption, racism, stupidity, sexism, and disregard for the constitution. We resist!
How are you talking to your children about Trump, if at all?
To my five-year-old, we talk about Trump as a bully, who doesn't know much about being president and who isn't curious. And we talk about how people (even children) have a lot of power when they join together, even against someone who seems terrifying. To my ten-year-old, I'm pretty candid. We talk about bigotry and sexism. We talk about what you do when people make laws you think are unjust and elect leaders you think are corrupt. Do you follow them anyway? Or does it give you an opportunity to grow your mind? To consider what you truly believe in. And what will you risk to protect it? (Which is also something I talk about with my friends.)
We listened to Matilda (the musical based on the Roald Dahl book) the other day and I cried. A group of kids finally defeats Miss Trunchbull (a powerful bully) by standing up against her together. They sing "We are revolting children, we live in revolting times." I think kids growing up these days are going to have to be like that. Ready to REVOLT!
How did you become such an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood?
Making it impossible or even difficult for women to have abortions and access to contraception is the most direct and deepest form of sexism. I have two kids. I can imagine that it's pretty hard to finish law school or pay back your student debt, or figure out who you are with a child from an unwanted pregnancy. And the cultural agreement we make (if we have sex) is that an unwanted pregnancy (either from carelessness, confusion, passion, rape, failed contraception, etc.) can be terminated. No one wants to have an abortion. It is a last resort, of course. But, If we want to support women, we have to support the right to abortion.
What’s the last thing you saw or did that made you smile, or inspired you?
Just saw LCD Soundsystem's first show back. It was mind-blowing.
What is something you consider underrated?
Anna Leigh Ashford and Austin Pendleton
What is something you consider overrated?
What do you make for dinner alone?
I'm never home alone at dinner time. If I were, I'd order sushi.