Maggie Gyllenhaal Talks Feminism, Hillary Clinton & Her Upcoming Project About Victoria Woodhull


She is one half of one of Hollywood’s most famous sibling duo, but what we love most about Maggie Gyllenhaal is the wide range of bold, badass and empowered roles she chooses which is entirely by design. The award-winning actress, who famously championed the dearth of complex female roles which are flooding the television landscape right now in her 2015 Golden Globes speech for her project ‘The Honorable Woman’, has purposely chosen some of the most interesting characters in TV and film and there is one reason why: feminism.

In an interview with CBS News about some of her upcoming projects, Maggie talked about her new HBO show ‘The Deuce’ where she plays a prostitute in New York City in 1971, at a time when porn was becoming a big deal. In a typical kind of question around these two polarizing subject matters, she is asked whether they thinks porn is empowering for women, or “slavery, as Gloria Steinem once called it”. Her answer shows how the topics of porn and prostitution need to be much more nuanced because neither are simply black and white issues.

“I don’t think I fall on one side of that line but I definitely feel like our projects and my work in our projects is feminist and absolutely part of the conversation I’m having in my own mind about what it means to be a feminist and what it means to be a woman as a sexual person, a thinking person, a feeling person, so I’m not able to make a blanket statement about porn…this show, at least so far, is absolutely part of the feminist conversation,” she said.


She said she played the role from a feminist perspective because “she can’t help it”. That’s just who she is as a woman, and an actress. From what we know about Maggie through previous interviews and press, it’s not a stretch to hear that her choices on screen are filtered through a feminist lens.

Without naming names, in an interview with The Wrap in 2015, she recalls a casting incident where she was told she was too old, at age 37, to play the lover of a male actor aged 55. The level of absurdity in that is just ridiculous. And it’s about time people in Hollywood started exposing the underbelly of misogyny and double standards that have existed for too long if anything is ever going to change. Let’s not forget the Sony Leaks and Jennifer Lawrence breaking her silence on being paid less than her ‘American Hustle’ co-stars being another pivotal moment in the “feminist awakening” of Hollywood, as we like to call it.

After a particular day of filming ‘The Deuce’, Maggie describes coming home to watch Hillary Clinton officially accept the Democratic Nomination at the DNC with her 9 year old daughter and what a huge moment that was for her.

“I was incredibly impressed with her speech. I was really moved. I cried a couple of times and yes, a lot of it had to do with the fact that she’s a smart, capable, powerful woman. And on the main stage, she took that and expressed it so beautifully. I was so moved by it,” she said.


Inspired by the notion that America could be on the verge of nominating a female president for the first time in its history, Maggie has another project in the works which delves into where this all started.

“I’m developing a TV project right now about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to ever run for president in the U.S. in the late 1800s, so to come from that and see Hillary give that speech — it just put me over the edge. Not that I was ever going to vote for Trump, but now I’m full-on behind her,” she said.

Her disdain for Donald Trump and all the bigotry he has been spewing from his bully pulpit literally from the day of his presidential campaign announcement has pushed her to have some confrontational conversations with people, including a man she has been working with.

“What was interesting was the guy I was talking to is very, very smart and intelligent. I don’t think he’d call himself a Trump supporter but is leaning that way. I think in a way there is a dissociative, non-thinking group of people voting for Trump. It’s difficult to have a conversation with those people,” she said.


It’s really disheartening to see how easy it is for certain groups of people to be blind to the way so many people are oppressed in the United States, and how a Trump presidency would only exacerbate that. We are speculating here, but being a woman and a feminist, Maggie has the perspective to see this and felt compelled to talk about it with someone like the aforementioned guy.

“We’ve been talking about what’s going on in the world and how our positions are different. Sometimes it’s easy to see people who think differently than you as an enemy but he thinks differently from me. I read a [Nicholas] Kristof article about all of the ways Trump has been racist over his career and I was talking about that article and now he said I’m moving the dial. We’re both listening to each other, so it was nice to have a conversation,” she recalled.

We certainly need more Maggie Gyllenhaals in Hollywood. Women who are not afraid to call out discrimination when they see it, choosing to play roles which challenge, provoke and stretch audience’s knowledge of women throughout history (let’s not forget her amazing role playing Charlotte Dalrymple, the feminist daughter of the British man who invented the vibrator) and those who continues to seek out the stories that deserve to be shown on screen.

In anticipation of her forthcoming Victoria Woodhull TV project, and the upcoming HBO series ‘The Deuce’, let us once again watch Maggie’s brilliant 2015 Golden Globes speech to remind ourselves of why she keeps choosing these badass roles:

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