Maggie Gyllenhaal broke out on the big screen in dark 2002 indie Secretary and has just been rewarded with an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in Crazy Heart. Rolling Stone recently spoke with the 31-year-old actress about her unique experience working on the set with Jeff Bridges.
In Crazy Heart, we watch Jeff Bridges’ Bad Blake and your Jean fall in love by degrees. But the first shooting day for you as actors finds the characters already deep into it, when she gets emotional watching him compose a ballad.
I think really the scene for her is about like feeling all of a sudden, I’m fucked — because I’m deep in love with you, and there’s nothing that I can do. And I’m sliding down the 3,000- foot side of a cliff. And it’s just over and I’m fucked.
It was only a month-long shoot, and out of respect for the director’s wishes, you stayed incommunicado with Jeff before production started.
Jeff says he likes to rehearse but what he really likes to do I think is just same as I, like just to kind of get to know you really. We just met, we knew we had 25 days to work together and we knew we were going to start on Monday. We just both went, I’m completely open, I’m open and ready for anything.
When I have to have some kind of an intense relationship with another actor, I just go in very open. And I have never been met by as much openness back at me as I was with him. It was just complete availability of his heart. And in a way we were playing people with big open hearts. So we kind of smashed together in that way which is really cool.
After their initial romantic interlude, when he calls from the road and asks to come visit she makes him — and us — really wait to hear the response.
When he leaves, it’s kind of, that was great and crazy and goodbye. I don’t regret one second of it but it was insane and goodbye. I don’t at all expect to be hearing from you, I think we got what we needed from each other and thank you, and goodbye.
Then when he calls, I did want it to be incredibly difficult to say, come. It’s because of Jean’s son, it’s because he’s twice my age, he’s a drunk. That’s sort of like the last vestige she has before she just falls..
I remember thinking before we started shooting, ‘OK, how does a thoughtful, smart woman who’s trying to get her life on track, to be a good mom, how does she fall for a serious drunk?’ And then you know what? I never thought about it again. I think that’s how it happens.
If you’re willing, this question and answer will probably need a SPOILER ALERT. But at the story’s end, we feel the progress each has separately made and there’s a sweetness to the resignation the characters display with each other at the end.
She’s blossoming a little bit. What Jeff says about that last scene is that they actually do end up together and we’ll make a sequel called Crazy Liver. I think he knows as much as I do, there’s just no way. And I think the reason why the coda is important, aside from just the sweetness of it, is, I do think, that these two people reveal their love for each other by not being together.