Maggie Gyllenhaal to Star in Short Films for Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti Competition (Exclusive)

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Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Oscar-nominated actress will appear in three shorts directed by a trio of winners, who will be selected based on their scripts.

Maggie Gyllenhaal has been named the official actor for this year’s Jameson First Shot film competition. Now in its fifth year, the competition is the brainchild of Trigger Street Prods. partners Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti.

As part of her duties, the Oscar-nominated actress (Crazy Heart) will star in three shorts directed by a trio of winners, who will be selected based on their scripts.

The shorts will make their world premiere during an L.A. ceremony next summer, with the cast and Hollywood crew in attendance. Brunetti (Fifty Shades of Grey, The Social Network) will produce the shorts.

“If you look at the actors that we’ve had in the past — beginning with Kevin Spacey — we’ve set the bar high,” Brunetti told The Hollywood Reporter. “Someone like Maggie is maintaining that. She’s one of the best actresses that we have right now in the industry of this generation. But she also embodies what this is all about. Her participation is not about the money, the fame, the glam. It’s all about giving people the opportunity to get a shot in the business.”

Added Spacey: “She’s one of the most interesting and multi-layered actresses around [and brave] for jumping into our mad deep end of an idea without a life jacket. It takes a certain kind of leap of faith for a performer of her quality to agree to star in not just one, but three films by yet-to-be named filmmakers.”

The competition was created by Spacey and Brunetti to give first-time filmmakers a break. Spacey, who struggled to break into the film industry, says it is important to “send the elevator back down,” as his mentor Jack Lemmon once told him.

“It’s not about where someone is, it’s about where they might get to in 10 years if they’re encouraged, nurtured and guided,” Spacey said.

The competition, which is now open to some international filmmakers, will accept entries beginning on Oct. 15. Entrants living in the following countries are eligible: United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Bulgaria, Kenya, Russia and the United States. Rules, including length and theme, can be found at

“Hollywood doesn’t have a monopoly on talent and we want to see what the world has to offer,” Brunetti added.

Gyllenhaal joins previous Jameson First Shot actors that include Willem Dafoe and Adrian Brody. Her credits also include The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, Secretary and Sherrybaby. Gyllenhaal’s small-screen role as Nessa Stein in The Honourable Woman has earned her a Golden Globe award as well as SAG and Emmy nominations.

To aspiring filmmakers thinking of entering the competition, Gyllenhaal recommends “putting a little bit of your actual self into what you're doing — good art takes vulnerability.”

Watch the video announcement of Gyllenhaal being named the official actor for this year’s competition below.