Maggie Gyllenhaal: "Sex and Sexuality for Actresses Has Felt Like a Prerequisite"

"Yes, you can be smart and powerful and all these things, but you do also have to throw in a little sexiness in there," she told THR.

“I think my show is actually about this, like sex as a way in to having an actual interesting conversation,” Maggie Gyllenhaal told The Hollywood Reporter for the Drama Actresses Roundtable. “I do think sex and sex scenes and sexuality has been a way to get people’s attention and then go, ‘OK, are you listening now? Here’s what I actually really want to talk about.’”  

Gyllenhaal, whose character Candy on HBO’s The Deuce earned her a Golden Globe nomination for best performance by an actress in a limited series, explained how she relates to her character’s sexuality.

“In my show, my character has access to filmmaking but only in porn and with her body. That’s how she can get in and start having a conversation where she’s like, ‘What does that light do?’ while she’s got her clothes off but I don’t know, I kind of relate to that even as an actress.”

“I think in my experience, I don’t know if you feel this way, but I feel like sex and sexuality for actresses … has felt like a prerequisite that yes, you can be smart and powerful and all these things, but you do also have to throw a little sexiness in there.”

Since The Deuce centers on the making of the porn industry and “there’s lots of prostitution, lots of transactional sex, there’s lots of fake orgasms,” Gyllenhaal felt that it was crucial to have a real female orgasm depicted on the show.

“I said to David Simon (show creator), ‘I think you need to see a real feminine orgasm in order to show the contrast and to show that these are performative because you also see a lot of performative orgasms on TV that are supposed to be real anyway so can we get down to the real because it will illuminate the misogyny and the performance.”

Simon took Gyllenhaal’s suggestion and wrote a scene that required the actress to perform a realistic female orgasm.

“I was like, ‘This orgasm needs to be the realest orgasm ever. This needs to be one that takes 30 seconds, that’s very quiet, that’s super internal, that’s just about her' and I thought about that and then I went in and did that on TV and I think that’s very vulnerable. That’s way more vulnerable than the orgasm that’s the performance.”

The Deuce, starring Gyllenhaal, is renewed for a second season on HBO. The full Emmy Roundtables air every Sunday on SundanceTV beginning June 24 and on THR.com the following Monday. The full Drama Actress Roundtable starring Gyllenhaal, Thandie Newton, Elisabeth Moss, Angela Bassett, Sandra Oh and Claire Foy airs Sunday, July 15 on Sundance TV. Tune in to THR.com/roundtables for more roundtables featuring talent from the year’s top shows.

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