Maggie Gyllenhaal: Snapshot

Maggie Gyllenhaal
Date of Birth
November 16, 1977
Birth Place
New York, N.Y.
Showbiz is in her DNA! Born to a screenwriter mother and director father, Maggie Gyllenhaal worked with her actor brother Jake in the 2001 cult classic Donnie Darko.

While the twisted tale made Jake a star, it was 2002's quirky S&M love story, Secretary, that put Maggie on the map. The indie-movie queen continued on the road less traveled, playing a birth control-using undergrad in the 1950s drama Mona Lisa Smile, an ex-convict in the gritty Sherrybaby and a single mom in love with a has-been in Crazy Heart – which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.

In 2009, The Dark Knight married actor Peter Sarsgaard, with whom she has two daughters.

Maggie Gyllenhaal: Five Fun Facts

  1. If Maggie Gyllenhaal wasn't an actress, her dream job would be fronting a music foursome. But, she told the public radio program Fresh Air, "I feel like there's something kind of a little embarrassing or annoying or something about an actress who sings."
  2. While getting her bachelors degree at Columbia University, Maggie Gyllenhaal studied religion with Uma Thurman's father, Professor Robert Thurman.
  3. Maggie Gyllenhaal loves clothes. "It's okay to think about clothes as long as you think about other things," she told The New York Observer, "Otherwise it's pretty problematic." She said shopping provides an opportunity to "think about who you are."
  4. Post-baby, Maggie Gyllenhaal joined the ranks of Kate Moss and Kylie Minogue as the face of Agent Provocateur lingerie. "Maggie is not an obvious sex symbol. She is interesting looking, confident and beautiful in a way that is non-threatening, which makes her appealing to men and women alike," company cofounder Serena Rees told the Daily Mail.
  5. A character's wardrobe is one of the first things Maggie Gyllenhaal considers when preparing for a new role. "Clothing, for me, is expressive," she told Marie Claire. "It's very important to me that I feel connected to what I'm wearing."

Maggie Gyllenhaal: Biography

late 1970s

Another Gyllenhaal in the Trade

Gyllenhaal's parents, Stephen Gyllenhaal (a movie and TV director) and Naomi Foner (a screenwriter), move the family from their native New York to L.A., where Gyllenhaal and younger brother Jake attend Harvard-Westlake School. She acts in school theater productions at the private prep academy. "Even in elementary school, I took it really seriously," she tells The Guardian in 2003. "I was always doing plays."


Maggie Gyllenhaal

October 30

A Family Affair

Gyllenhaal makes her film debut in her father's drama Waterland. It is the first of six films directed by him (pictured with Maggie, Jake and Naomi) in which she appears. But auditioning outside of the family circle proved to be difficult for the unconventional beauty. "For so long I was told I wasn't sexy enough or beautiful enough," she tells Entertainment Weekly in 2006. "It felt confusing and painful."


Maggie Gyllenhaal

January 30

Maggie Waits Her Turn

After graduating from Columbia University with a degree in Eastern religions and literature, Gyllenhaal appears in her brother Jake's star-making vehicle, Donnie Darko. The cult hit opens with their characters yelling at each other over a family dinner. Gyllenhaal tells The Times that it was difficult to watch her younger brother (left) become a star while she struggled with her career.

Read More on Maggie Gyllenhaal's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Carlo Allegri/AP

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Larry Busacca/WireImage; Jeff Vespa/WireImage

Edited by Julia Wang

Maggie Gyllenhaal

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