Maggie Gyllenhaal is a busy working mom—and she wouldn't have it any other way.
The actress, 36, covers Modern Luxury's August issue of Angeleno, where she gets candid about her happy home life with husband Peter Sarsgaard, 43, and their two daughters, Ramona, 7, and Gloria, 2.
"Being a parent, you have to sacrifice things, and you have to ask your kids to sacrifice things," says the star, who lives in Brooklyn. "If you are Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, you can have that power to say, 'Yes, I want to do that movie, but I need to wait until July,' but we don't. So both of us have had to sacrifice things we wanted to do many times. But that's what it means to be in a family and be in a relationship."
Over the years, Gyllenhaal and Sarsgaard co-starred in two off-Broadway Chekhov adaptations. Was it the couple's goal to star in the same projects? "We just happen to enjoy working together," Gyllenhaal tells the magazine, "but I also think our similar artistic sensibility is part of what excites us romantically."
In many ways, Gyllenhaal relates to her role as a new-age mother in 2009's Away We Go. "There are lots of ways I'm similar to that character," she admits. "What's funny about her is that she is totally earnest and has no sense of humor about what's going on. Like, if you say you're only gonna feed your kid organic food. But having one school of thought about being a parent has only gotten me in trouble."
Keeping an open mind has served the actress well on the big screen, too. For example, in the dramedy movie Frank (in theaters Aug. 15), Gyllenhaal gets to live out her dream of being "a rock star-in-waiting."
But while Gyllenhaal loves to sing, it's not something she plans to pursue professionally.
In fact, she reveals, "My husband and I were going to do a movie about bluegrass, and we started to learn these really complicated bluegrass harmonies. We are not great at all, and we will never sing them in front of anybody, except our really close friends when we're drunk...It's like a secret pleasure."
Instead, her focus will remain on raising her family and making more movies. And while "lots of people" saw The Dark Knight, she tells Angeleno, her "favorite movies are [the] tiny ones" she's made, like Sherrybaby. "I'm always just trying to be truthful. I can't think, 'I'm going to try to do a blockbuster.' I'm always just after having an honest experience. But at this point, you just can't make little movies unless you are bankable, so I understand that sometimes I have to work on things that aren't exactly my taste."
The more seasoned Gyllenhaal gets, the more comfortable the actress is making such compromises. As she so eloquently tells the magazine, "I'm 36, and there's an amazing thing that can happen in your thirties, when the fantasy about what you expect your life to be runs into the reality of who you actually are, and what the world really is—the darkness, the strangeness—and it ends up being sexy and alive."