It’s no surprise that the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” boasts Maggie Gyllenhaal in the role of Anna. She is a strong, intelligent activist and actor, a key player in this drama about marital love and infidelity. It’s the type of character Gyllenhaal regularly and successfully inhabits.
For the young actress, who recently discovered her birth name is Margalit (Hebrew for Pearl), it adds another star performance in her ever-expanding galaxy. Here are some others:
1. The Honourable Woman
Gyllenhaal played British business executive Ness Stein in this eight-part mini-series that aired originally on the BBC and last summer on the Sundance Channel. Stein, who is Jewish, works hard to build bridges of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but as soon becomes clear in this spy thriller, it is a complex and difficult task. But the series and Gullenhaal’s performance won raves, with The New York Times saying she played “a principled but conflicted woman whose quicksilver personality alters from hour to hour and flashback to flash-forward.”
On the Daily Show, Maggie Gyllenhaal told Jon Stewart that she has not received any backlash about the politics of “The Honorable Woman,” the new show that she stars in. Since it centers on the ongoing turmoil of Israeli-Palestinian relations, Stewart looked amused.
“You have very thoughtful friends,” he said.
Granted, the eight-part mini-series written by British director Hugo Blick is only a few episodes into its run on the Sundance Channel (in the UK, five episodes have aired already). There is still an ample amount of time to provoke both critics and political pundits.
However, for the moment, the series seems focused on avoiding taking a side. The first episode introduced a very complicated political murder mystery. Gyllenhaal plays Vanessa “Nessa” Stein, the daughter of a successful English arms dealer who supplied Israel with weapons and was murdered 29 years ago in front of his children. Nessa, along with her brother Ephra, has inherited her father’s company and has a plan to remodel the business as a supplier of peace, not war. The idea is to bring Internet and phone cables to impoverished Palestinian territories to enable education and communication. As Nessa says, “Terror thrives in poverty, it dies in wealth.”
The plan is jeopardized when a man is found dead in his hotel room. We learn that the victim is a Palestinian who Nessa planned to give a lucrative contract to construct the communication infrastructure. Of course, allegations from both Israelis and Palestinians ensue, and protestors hound Nessa with questions wherever she goes.
Meet Margalit Gyllenhaal. You probably know her as Maggie.
The actress revealed in an interview with ABC that she didn’t learn her full name until she was 35. In case you were wondering, Margalit means ‘pearl’ in Hebrew.
How does that happen? Well, after marrying to Peter Sarsgaard 2009, Gyllenhaal says she wanted to change her name in her personal life (professionally, she stayed “Gyllenhaal”). When she started the process last year, she found she needed proof of her birth (as one does). After much searching, her parents finally found her birth certificate and magically remembered what they actually named their daughter. Which was not Maggie, to everybody’s surprise.
“They didn’t remember,” Maggie said in an interview with ABC News. “My mother still insists my name is not Margalit.”
Still, her Wikipedia article does not lie — it now lists her full name as Margalit Ruth “Maggie” Gyllenhaal.
Photo courtesy Tribeca Film
Screenwriter Naomi Foner was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her original screenplay for “Running on Empty.” She also wrote other high-profile projects such as “Losing Isaiah” and “Bee Season.” So you’d think the Hollywood establishment would rush to sign on for “Very Good Girls,” her latest script.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
“I wrote this a long time ago, and it’s been in my drawer for many years,” she told the Forward in a telephone interview.
In some ways, it’s not surprising. The film is about two best friends, Lily (Dakota Fanning) and Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen), who pledge to lose their virginity before they leave for college. Problems arise when they fall for the same guy and he prefers one over the other.
Though it sounds on the surface a lot like typical summer fare, it is an intelligent, affecting movie about friendship, honesty and family. Foner spoke to the Forward about getting the film made, how her grandfather used to write to the Forverts for advice on fishing and how proud she is of her children, Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Curt Schleier: I was really disappointed the other day. I went to McDonald’s and asked them for Lily and Gerry action figures. They didn’t know what I was talking about. I don’t understand. Did you actually make a summer movie without major tie-ins?
If you’ve ever been the sad recipient of an Ivy League rejection letter, you’re in glitzy company.
Maggie Gyllenhaal has revealed that she was turned down by Yale and wait-listed at Columbia. “I wanted to go to Yale, but they didn’t accept me,” she told Gotham in their June 28 issue. “Columbia didn’t accept me at first, either — they put me on the wait list. Once I was there, I realized I wouldn’t have finished college if I weren’t in the city.”
Catch Maggie, self-proclaimed almost-college-drop-out, in “White House Down.” Take that, Yale!
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