Maggie Gyllenhaal is rather busy these days starring in the HBO series The Deuce, which just started its second season, and producing and starring in the new film “The Kindergarten Teacher.” She is also adapting Elena Ferrante’s novel “The Lost Daughter” for the big screen.
On top of that, the Oscar-nominated actress is the mother of two daughters with husband Peter Sarsgaard. Yet she still finds time to spread her sage advice and keen eye as a long-time veteran of the film industry (her parents were both in the business and her brother is actor Jake Gyllenhaal) and also support women in film.
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That is why she has taken on the role of Independent Film Advisor for Autograph Collection Hotels’ Screenwriters in Residence Program, which provides female screenwriters with time at one of their many hotels all over the world to work on their craft.
Autograph partnered with Black List — which finds the industry’s most-liked yet unproduced screenplays — to find these writers and create these retreats for them. Last year, screenwriter Liz Hannah was selected. She wrote the Oscar-nominated film “The Post.”
Gyllenhaal drew personal inspiration after reading Virginia Woolf’s famed 1929 feminist essay “A Room of One’s Own,” which insisted on the concept of giving a woman space, both literally and figuratively, in order to succeed in an industry dominated by men.
Travel + Leisure caught up with the actress to discuss where she would travel to find a room of her own.
Travel + Leisure: I know you’re working on your own script right now. Is there an ideal place you’d like to travel to to write it?
“I’m working on an adaptation of an Elena Ferrante novel and even though I’m not setting it in Naples [where it takes place], I would love to go there. In my fantasy life if they offered me a room somewhere it would be there.”
What do you look for in a hotel when you travel?
“I love to travel. Autograph is unusual in that it has this independent aesthetic and I always want hotels that have individual aesthetics. That’s all I’m looking for. I never want to go to the big corporate one. I want the windows to open. I’m always looking for the little, tiny, small, unusual characteristics but great… I also want a little luxe.”
What are some of your favorite hotels?
“I love the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. There’s also this riad in Marrakesh called El Fenn. I really like the Covent Garden in London. I’ve been staying there forever and it feels homey. There’s a lot of places I’d like to go.”
Do you enjoy traveling for work?
“I love to travel. When you’re writing, when you’re acting, or when you’re in your process doesn’t everything start to become food for the mill? Wherever I am is feeding my mind for the work that I do. Let’s say I were in Naples writing and I go for a walk, get something to eat, even if the project isn’t around Naples somehow being deeply in the mindset of your work, everything feeds it.”
How and why did this collaboration with Autograph Hotels come about?
“I had been listening to ‘A Room of One’s Own’ at the dentist so it had been on my mind. This idea of just because there’s a woman writer it doesn’t make it an actual expression of something feminine. We live in a male world and, also, not just in 1928 when Woolf was writing it, but now too. No matter how much we were wishful thinking, we live in the opposite, we live in a misogynistic world. And just being a woman doing work, it doesn’t mean you are able to express that feminine element of yourself.
Wolf talks about Charlotte Bronte hiding her writing underneath her sewing books and her anger and her rage clouds her writing. It makes me think about what is feminine film making? Just because a woman is writing, just because a woman is directing, it doesn’t mean that the actual product is — Wolf uses the expression whole and entire — of the feminine mind. She says we need money and the physical space of our own, but we need space in our mind. You need the luxury of having space in your mind so this is symbolic in a way.”