“Making the miniseries changed my outlook on many things,” says Maggie Gyllenhaal about her role in SundanceTV’s “The Honorable Woman” as an English businesswoman who becomes involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I think I have a real compassion for both sides that I thought I had before, but I think it wasn’t in my heart before.” (Watch our complete video chat below.)
Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, the daughter of a weapons manufacturer who now hopes to use her family’s business to promote peace in the Middle East. The actress was “shocked” by how well the miniseries was received by people on opposite ends of the political divide. She sought out “people who were very far over and very intelligent, way over on the spectrum of either side of the conflict … and I was getting feedback from those people all the way through the show airing, and I was amazed by how they could hear the show even though they were very far over on both sides.”
In January, Gyllenhaal’s performance won her a Golden Globe for Best Movie/Miniseries Actress. She attended the ceremony with her brother, Jake Gyllenhaal, who himself was nominated at the event for the feature film “Nightcrawler.” “We’ve actually gotten really close lately,” she says. “Of course, it’s just awards, but it was so lovely to be with him, and in a way it makes it feel more real.”
This was her third Golden Globe nomination and first win, and “the thing that’s been kind of amazing about the Golden Globes is the movies and television that they’ve recognized me for have been ones I’ve really particularly loved, and also that needed it. ‘Secretary’ needed a little attention. ‘Sherrybaby’ needed a little attention. ‘Honorable Woman’ needed a little attention. It made a huge difference.”
After her experience with “The Honorable Woman,” Gyllenhaal says she’s “really into long-form television right now, but the way we worked on ‘The Honorable Woman’ is not the way you usually do it … We had all eight scripts, I had one director for the whole thing who I came to trust … It was like a movie where you didn’t have to worry only about telling a story. You could go in a novelistic way into weird little nooks and crannies of who this person is. You had a bigger canvas to work with. I really liked that. I would like to do that again.”
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