My Favorite Mistake: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie Gyllenhaal

On flubbing the lines of perfection.

I've made so many mistakes that have been helpful in my life. I make them all the time in trying to do everything. It's impossible not to. I'm not perfect at all--as a wife, as a mother, as an actress.

When I made Crazy Heart in 2008, that was the first time I really went back to work after having my first child, and that movie was so intense that I lost touch with some motherly stuff and was just in the world of the movie. Even trying to figure out what was for dinner was tough. My husband, Peter, was going to work in London a lot of the time, and Crazy Heart was the type of movie that you'd shoot in three weeks and be out drinking tequila with the director and Jeff Bridges till three in the morning. We had to make a real relationship together in order for that one to work. Peter said to me, "You go and do whatever you need to do." But my daughter wasn't cool with that: she was still going to wake up at 6:30 a.m.

Within the same year, I made Nanny McPhee in London. I went and rehearsed for a week, got married, went on a two-day honeymoon, and we started shooting. It was a long, four-month shoot. I had a 2-year-old, too. But I was and am in love with Emma Thompson, who wrote and starred in the film. I wanted to please her and be friends.

One day, we went over to her house for brunch, and afterward I was going to see Ornette Coleman, who's a big jazz musician. I wasn't that into Coleman, but he's one of my husband's favorites. Emma was so shocked that I was going out that night on a date with my husband, but Peter really wanted to go. The concert was awesome, and I hadn't been out that late.

I went to work the next day, and it was a huge day: acting with children, animals, tons of props, and a long scene with lots of talking. …