WHAT I’VE LEARNED

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

AC­TRESS Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal, 36, starred in the Bat­man film and has been nom­i­nated twice for Golden Globes for her roles in and

She stars as Nessa Stein in TV se­ries She lives in New York with her hus­band, ac­tor Peter Sars­gaard, and their two daugh­ters. Here she re­flects on her life and ca­reer,

CHARRED ants taste like le­mon. My hus­band and I went to Noma in Copen­hagen re­cently, which is “the best restau­rant in the world”. At one point I was given a live lan­gous­tine, then raw beef with charred ants on it. They were de­li­cious — much eas­ier for me to eat than the lan­gous­tine. I’m not equipped to judge that kind of food, but I was cu­ri­ous. Peter and I hadn’t been alone to­gether in weeks, but we had this one night. It was an emo­tional, alive ex­pe­ri­ence.

It’s such a re­lief when you al­low your­self to be a hu­man be­ing. In your 20s, you have a fan­tasy of who you are sup­posed to be. My 30s, so far, have been about let­ting go of that. I RE­CENTLY found out that the name on my birth cer­tifi­cate is Mar­galit. My par­ents didn’t re­mem­ber what they put down. Mar­galit is a beau­ti­ful name, but it’s not mine. I’ve lived my life as Mag­gie. At the same time, it’s in­ter­est­ing to have a pri­mary source from the day I was born: one name was writ­ten down, then crossed out, and another writ­ten in. BE cu­ri­ous . It is the op­po­site of be­ing judg­men­tal, whether that’s judg­ing your­self, which I cer- tainly do, or judg­ing oth­ers, which I’m guilty of some­times. It kills hu­man in­ter­ac­tion. THERE are parts of us that are beau­ti­ful and parts of us that are ugly. I’m try­ing to embrace the ugly parts. ASK for help. I re­mem­ber work­ing with Oliver Stone on World Trade Cen­ter. We’d had a morn­ing of re­ally good work and I was feel­ing great. Then Oliver came up to me after lunch and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” It hurt and I just said, “OK. Can you help me?” He was sur­prised I had asked him and then he said, “I give you the power of Zeus.” Great, OK, I’ll take it. But the les­son is in the ex­pe­ri­ence we had to­gether. He told me the truth, I asked him for help, he gave me the power of Zeus and then we were friends. I’M braver with my work than I am in life. I take lessons from my ex­pe­ri­ences. A few years ago Peter and I ap­peared to­gether on stage in Chekhov’s Three Sis­ters and it taught me a lot about love. I played Masha, who loves Ver­shinin, although he is flawed, but so is she. She loves him any­way. It was a re­lief to dis­cover that all the dark­ness in ev­ery re­la­tion­ship be­tween two hu­man be­ings, and cer­tainly in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween me and my hus­band, is valu­able. That’s where love is. IF you see an in­jus­tice in the world, it’s your re­spon­si­bil­ity to speak out about it. But you have to say it in a way that will make peo­ple lis­ten. When I was young I made a com­ment about 9/11 that made so many peo­ple angry. (Gyl­len­haal sug­gested Amer­ica had, in some part, a re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tacks.) What was the point? If you have a plat­form to say some­thing, you need to do it in a way that will make peo­ple hear you. In Amer­ica if I were to say on a chat show some of the things that my character Nessa in The Hon­ourable Woman says about the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, so many would shut down and stop hear­ing me. I don’t know why it is, but the show is able to say things that peo­ple would not oth­er­wise ac­cept. Peo­ple are hear­ing it. I LIVE by EM Forster’s quote: “Only con­nect”. I don’t al­ways suc­ceed, but I’m striv­ing for it.

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