'Can you get on a plane in 10 minutes?': Maggie Gyllenhaal recalls surreal 'Lost Daughter' win
NEW YORK — When it comes to acceptance speeches, Olivia Colman is in a category all her own.
Colman, 47, was equally winning at the 2021 Emmy Awards, where she earned the best drama actress trophy for playing Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix's "The Crown." She tearfully paid tribute to her late dad, and ended her speech saying, "Michaela Coel, (expletive) yeah!"
Coel is the visionary creator of HBO's "I May Destroy You," a stunning exploration of healing, consent and sexual assault. The miniseries won a best writing Emmy, much to Colman's delight.
"Oh, that's a must (watch)," Colman says, sitting with her "The Lost Daughter" director Maggie Gyllenhaal at a hotel bar overlooking Central Park. Coel "said stuff that you'd pause it and go, 'What? Is that not OK?' And then, 'Of course it's not OK! Bloody hell!' "
Colman could be heading back to the Oscars stage this season with Gyllenhaal's feature directorial debut "Lost Daughter," which is playing the New York Film Festival ahead of its release in theaters (Dec. 17) and on Netflix (Dec. 31).
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Based on Elena Ferrante's 2008 novel, the dreamlike film follows a professor named Leda (Colman) who becomes infatuated with a young mom (Dakota Johnson) while on vacation in Greece. The drama, which Gyllenhaal also adapted for the screen, co-stars Jessie Buckley as a younger Leda, who feels increasingly stifled by marriage and motherhood.
"Lost Daughter" is part of a recent wave of films and TV shows created and/or written by women, including "Tully," "Wildlife," Amazon's "Catastrophe" and Netflix's "Dead to Me." All center on multifaceted female characters, who grapple with feelings of inadequacy and burnout in their personal and professional lives.
These recent depictions are more "truthful, with women who don't look ravishing all the time," Colman says. " 'Mare of Easttown' with Kate Winslet is just her (character) being real, and that's the biggest hit. And 'Fleabag,' (expletive) genius. That was a moment when women across the world went, 'Ah, yes,' (in recognition). The sexual or the filthy or the guilty thoughts, ('Fleabag' creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge) spoke to those. There are things like that being applauded now."
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It's a marked contrast to the landscape even just a few years ago, when Gyllenhaal debuted Sara Colangelo's "The Kindergarten Teacher" at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, which she also produced and starred in. "Women have gotten so used to, if we're lucky, seeing a movie or television show that represents maybe 30% of the feminine experience," Gyllenhaal told USA TODAY at the time.
"But when you're directing and writing, you can try for 100%, and even sometimes, you get 120," she says now. "Because Jessie brought her (perspective), and so did Dakota, and so did all my brilliant actors (in 'Lost Daughter'). In terms of expressing what I wanted to express, it was beyond what I could have imagined. It blew my mind open."
"Lost Daughter" made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival last month, where it was rapturously received by critics (100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes). Gyllenhaal also won the festival's award for best screenplay, alongside her filmmaking idol Jane Campion ("The Piano"), who took the fest's Silver Lion best directing prize for "The Power of the Dog."
"It was a total joy," recalls Gyllenhaal, who had already traveled home to the U.S. before the ceremony. "And you know, the way that works is, they call you in the morning. And if you live in the States, they're like, 'Can you get on a plane in 10 minutes, grab a dress, throw it in a bag and head back to Venice?'
"My best girlfriend went with me," she continues. "I called her and was like, 'Do you wanna go to Venice for lunch?' And she did!"