Thursday, July 17, 2008

Interview with Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal on her role as Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight:

The A.V. Club: You've said you did everything you could to decline this part, and you've expressed disinterest in action films in the past. Why the change of heart?

... Also, I did say to Chris, "I really want her to be smart." And he'd say "Okay." "And I really want her to be a great woman, and actually have a point of view about things." "Great, yes, that's what I want too." Every turn, he was like, "Yes, help me. Let's make her better."

AVC: In every role you choose, you say you need something to think about and work through. What did you have to work through for this role?

MG: Well, you know, the process of working on this movie was very tied up with having a baby. My daughter was 7 months old when we started shooting, and 14 months old when we finished. I was really just beginning to step out and think about what it meant to be an actress and what it meant to be a woman, which is in some ways a question you always have to ask yourself if you're going to do a movie like this. What does it mean to be the woman in this movie, in this big Hollywood action movie? And is there a way to do it that's cool, that's awesome? Is there a way to do it that you actually believe that these incredible guys actually like her this much? Is there a way to do it where she actually also has a point of view about the state of the world, the moral state of the universe, like these guys do? I tried to make that true; it's not up to me to say whether it worked. But that definitely was what I tried and wanted to do. And those were all things that I was thinking about.

AVC: Aaron Eckhart joked that if the script called for you to be in peril, you had a problem with it. Are there any types of roles you wouldn't take outright?

MG: No, I mean, he was just kidding. The truth is, what I didn't want to be was just the sort of empty lady who gets thrown around by different guys and doesn't have anything to do but look scared. I just wanted her to be a real person. There are times when she's scared and she's in peril for sure, but it's true, I would always sort of try to figure out another way to play it. [Laughs.] But it's important that that happens to her—and that happens to us women. We do get scared sometimes and feel vulnerable and all sorts of things. I just wanted her to be a real person. I don't want to play the happy hooker, you know? [Laughs.] There are some things I don't want to do. Then again, if you're going to play a hooker in a movie, the movie has to have the perspective, of course, that it isn't such a great thing. Probably the only way to really play a hooker well is to believe you're doing something that's good. But at the same time, the movie can't have that point of view, so… [Laughs.] There are lots of things I wouldn't do.

AVC: Like what, besides the happy hooker?

MG: Well, I don't think there are that many I could say unequivocally "I would not play that," but there's lots of parts I read and I think, "I don't really want to do that. I don't really think that's how women act."

AVC: Is the lack of believability the common denominator?

MG: Well, sometimes I'll read things and think, "That's not how humans behave," or "I don't understand how to do that and make it seem like I'm not some kind of strange alien or on a sitcom." I don't get it, and when I feel that way, I have to listen to my instinct. There was one time recently, of course I can't say what the movie is, but I had a lot of problems with it. I thought it wasn't the way humans really behave. I had a meeting with the director, who then decided he didn't want me anymore. [Laughs.] And after that, I thought, "You know what? I think I didn't give that a fair chance. I think maybe I was too quick to judge that." But often my initial instinct does lead me in a direction that I can trust.

From the A.V. Club.

I'm super excited for The Dark Knight - tomorrow!

1 comment:

Jen said...

I love Maggie Gyllenhaal. I have a major crush on both her and her brother. Intelligence and poise certainly runs in that family. Thanks for sharing that interview with us!