Maggie Gyllenhaal: Why She’s Not In Movies Anymore

By Rick Gonzales | 3 months ago

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal isn’t afraid to take chances. She’s been doing that for her entire career, one that has been going for nearly three decades. Her last big movie, though, came in 2013 with the action thriller White House Down where she co-starred with Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum. Since that time, Gyllenhaal has been in scant few projects with none making their way to a big-screen release. Her focus, it appears, seems to have changed as her career has gone on.

So, why has Maggie Gyllenhaal moved away from acting? Well, she has lately been working on the other side of the camera. She has put on her producing shoes – she produced The Kindergarten Teacher as well as The Deuce, Best Summer Ever, and the upcoming The Lost Daughter and Farnsworth House.

The Deuce nudity
Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Deuce

Not only that but Maggie Gyllenhaal has worn the director’s hat as well as handled the writer’s pen. She wrote and directed an episode of Homemade and she is also the writer/director in her upcoming feature The Lost Daughter.

As she told the trades, she felt directing should have come sooner for her. “I do think it might have happened sooner. The producing, though, happened very naturally. I feel like I just got to a point where I was like, “I have a lot of ideas. The name for this is producing.” I think there actually are a lot more models of women producers than directors out there. Maybe that’s why it felt more natural.”

While the movie roles for Maggie Gyllenhaal may be slowing down, she seems to have her future path carved out quite nicely. The Lost Daughter is expected to be released sometime this year though there is no word on if it will get a theatrical release or go straight to a streaming service.

Where She Got Her Start

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal made her film debut with a small part in the 1992 movie Waterland. It was a movie that her father, Stephen, directed. In fact, Gyllenhaal’s next five films (A Dangerous Woman, Shattered Mind, The Patron Saint of Liars, Homegrown, Homegrown, and Resurrection) were all directed by her father.

She began to get larger roles in her next two films, Cecil B. Demented and Riding in Cars with Boys, but it was her role in the cult hit Donnie Darko that began to open the eyes of Hollywood. In the movie, she played Elizabeth Darko, sister to Donnie, who was played by her real-life brother Jake Gyllenhaal.

How Maggie Gyllenhaal Developed A Reputation For Full-Front Nudity

Maggie Gyllenhaal naked

Next up for Maggie Gyllenhaal was another breakout film. In Secretary, she plays a young woman recently released from a mental hospital who takes a job as a secretary to an extremely demanding lawyer, played by James Spader. Their employer-employee relationship takes a left turn when they find common ground exploring their BDSM desires. This would be the first time Gyllenhaal would appear full-frontal nude, but certainly not the last. Throughout her career, Gyllenhaal has not been camera shy when it comes being naked on screen.

There weren’t any sudden twists or turns when it came to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s movie career. Because of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s willingness to be naked, she was offered parts that asked her to, some of which she obliged. It was also gaining her the reputation of a sex symbol as evidenced by the fact that she was named to Maxim’s Hot 100 List in 2004 and 2005.

Maggie Gyllenhaal naked
Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary

In Strip Search, a brutal look at individual liberties in the aftermath of 9/11, Gyllenhaal played an American woman who was detained in the People’s Republic of China being interrogated by a Chinese official based on virtually no evidence around unspecified activities that may or may not be linked to terrorist plots. Gyllenhaal was asked many times to go full-frontal naked for the movie.

Leaning On Other Skills

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s career doesn’t solely revolve around her willingness to be naked on camera. Though she did end up naked in Happy Endings, she also sang. Gyllenhaal describes her role in the movie as “roughest, scariest acting ever,” since she decided her singing scene had to be done live and not as a lip-synch. “It’s easier to be awake and alive and really in the moment singing,” she said to AP Radio via USA Today. “It was like a gift handed to me because you have to breathe, you have to respond to the sounds coming out of your mouth.”

In 2006, Maggie Gyllenhaal was in Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. She played Allison Jimeno, opposite Michael Peña’s Will. The story told of the 9/11 tragedy and those involved. Will Jimeno was a true-life hero, only one of 20 people to be pulled out alive when the World Trade Centers collapsed.

Joker in Batman
Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight

In 2008, Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes in one of the biggest comic book movies in cinematic history, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. While all was well that ended well, Nolan was not pleased that Holmes couldn’t return for the second film as she played Dawes in Batman Begins. Nolan said to Business Insider via Hindustan Times, “Katie wasn’t available for the role, which I wasn’t very happy about, but these things happen, and I was very, very fortunate that Maggie was able to take it over.” Gyllenhaal knew how much Nolan wished for Homes to return, so she reached out to Holmes to make sure Holmes was okay with her taking over as Dawes. Holmes said, “It was a decision that I made at that time and it was right for me at that moment, so I don’t have any regrets. I think that Maggie did a wonderful job.”

As the 2000s moved into the 2010s, Maggie Gyllenhaal began to slowly ease up on her movie roles. She started the decade off in the sex-soaked movie Hysteria, the true story about how Mortimer Granville invented the first vibrator in the name of science. She then appeared in Won’t Back Down and in 2013 she appeared in her last big feature by starring opposite Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in White House Down. That movie didn’t get the box office they were hoping for, though it wasn’t a bad movie.

White House Down
Maggie Gyllenhaal in White House Down

This is about the time Maggie Gyllenhaal’s career took its turn away from feature films. She went from feature to television, first by starring in what many consider to be the best role of her career in the 2014 BBC political spy thriller The Honourable Woman. In it, she played British-Israeli businesswoman heiress Baroness Nessa Stein receiving rave reviews. For her performance in the mini-series, Gyllenhaal won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film.

Over the next four years, Gyllenhaal was pretty much non-existent. She appeared in a few short films but nothing of note. She reappeared in the HBO series The Deuce, where she played Candy Merrell, a sex worker-turned-director during the Golden Age of Porn. The series ran for three seasons and Gyllenhaal received another Golden Globe nomination for her role. During this time, Maggie Gyllenhaal also starred in the 2018 controversial film titled The Kindergarten Teacher where she becomes obsessed with a six-year-old student whom she believes is a child prodigy. The controversy came from those who thought the movie was an attempt to sexualize the relationship between the teacher and the student, which was not the case at all.