• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Lost Daughter”

With her fifth nomination for a Golden Globe (she won Best Performance by an Actress in A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television in 2015 for The Honourable Woman), actress Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her debut as a director with the film The Lost Daughter for which she also wrote the screenplay based on the Italian novel by Neapolitan writer Elena Ferrante La figlia oscura.
In the film, which premiered at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, Olivia Colman is Leda, a middle-aged English teacher divorcee who decides to spend a vacation alone in a Greek sea resort. Away from her grown-up daughters, she is searching for a quiet spot to think and study. On the beach where she goes every day, she sits next to a noisy family which attracts her attention, in particular a young mother, Nina (Dakota Johnson), and her little girl Elena with her inseparable doll. Without a reason, Leda snatches the doll, while retracing her life, her motherhood, her need to escape from the domestic cage to concentrate on her career.
In presenting the film at the Venice film festival, surrounded by her actors, Maggie Gyllenhaal said, “I had first read Elena Ferrante’s novel years ago, and when I was reading it, I was thinking, this woman is so fucked up! And then one millisecond later I thought, oh no, I really relate to her, this is somehow an experience that many, many people are having but that nobody is talking about. And then I thought, well, what if, instead of sitting alone in my room with a book with this feeling, if you have these things revealed? Nobody talks about the secret truths about a feminine experience. It seemed like a kind of dangerous exciting thing to try. That was why I wanted to try to adapt this particular book into a film.”
Born on November 16, 1977, in New York City, Gyllenhaal’s parents are filmmakers Naomi Foner and Stephen Gyllenhaal, and she is sister to actor Jake Gyllenhaal. She made her film debut in her father’s film Waterland (1992). She received a degree in literature from Columbia University in 1999 and studied briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
Soon after graduation, Gyllenhaal appeared in supporting roles in Cecil B. Demented (2000) and alongside her brother Jake in Donnie Darko (2001). Her breakout role came with the daring, sexy title role in Secretary (2002), earning her first Golden Globe nomination, followed by supporting roles in films like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Adaptation (2002) and Mona Lisa Smile (2003). Her second Golden Globe nomination came with her role as a prison parolee in Sherrybaby in 2006, and she acted for Oliver Stone in World Trade Center before replacing Katie Homes in The Dark Knight in 2008. In rapid succession came Crazy Heart playing opposite Jeff Bridges in 2009, The Honourable Woman (her third nomination and a Golden Globe), and another nomination as Best Actress in a Drama Series for The Deuce in 2018.
Married to actor Peter Sarsgaard, father of her two children since 2009, she is now in love with directing. “Someone asked me what I learned doing this film,” she said in Venice. “And obviously I’ve learned so many things. One of the things I learned is that I think I’ve always been a director and I just didn’t feel entitled to admit it to myself. Weirdly, I think it was actually playing Candy on The Deuce, playing a porn director on television, I kind of went, I think this is me. And I think it’s true, I think it’s a better job for me actually.”