Maggie Gyllenhaal Brings Her Heart and Soul To Her New Series The Deuce

Maggie Gyllenhaal Brings Her Heart and Soul To Her New Series The Deuce

The actress opens up about how she tackled her role as Candy.

The actress opens up about how she tackled her role as Candy.

Photography: Robin Harper

Styling: Britt Berger

Text: Joshua Lyon

Hopes loom large for The Deuce, the new project from The Wire’s creator, David Simon. Set at the dawn of the porn industry in the early 1970s, the series stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as Eileen “Candy” Merrell, a no-nonsense prostitute and source of inspiration for other ladies of the night due to her refusal to work for a pimp. Times Square features prominently in all of its seedy retro glory, James Franco plays twins loosely based on a pair of real-life skin ick entrepreneurs, and it will premiere September 10th on HBO. (Of course.)

For Gyllenhaal, the role of Candy was rich with possibility, but before signing on, she needed a promise from Simon: “I said, ‘You have to show my character’s personal desire and that has to be in juxtaposition to the sex she’s selling,’” she recalls. To ensure the requirement was met, she also came on board as a producer. “I basically said, ‘You’re going to need my body, but you also have to take my mind.’”

The show is the better for it. Gyllenhaal conducted deep research into the world they bring to life: She visited a porno set, read books, and spoke with educator and former prostitute Annie Sprinkle. “[As a prostitute], your sense of sex and your sense of bodies, it completely changes,” the actress says. “You’re like an expert in the way that you become an expert at something that you do all day, every day. It must really deeply shift how you see sex and relate it to your own life. The nice thing about Annie is that her mind is totally intact and inspiring, and Candy is the same way. She has a mind, and I think her work is sometimes really hard for her, but she’s not destroyed by it.”

The respect and care that Gyllenhaal brings to Candy is both touching and a welcome reassurance that The Deuce will continue to develop its female characters beyond the usual perspective viewers are offered when it comes to prostitutes. “You never get the one-plus-one-equals-two of how Candy ended up there, which I appreciate,” she comments. “It’s much more about watching somebody grow into something else. It’s exciting watching a mind get magnetized and woken up.”

DRESS AND GLOVE GUCCI

Credits:
Makeup Deanna Melluso (The Wall Group) Hair Benoit Moeyaert (The Wall Group) Location Dean Street Studios

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