vulture festival 2018

Maggie Gyllenhaal Is Getting Tired Of the Sex Scenes in The Deuce

Maggie Gyllenhaal. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

During Vulture Festival 2018’s “Maggie Gyllenhaal in Five Acts,” the actress sat down in front of an audience to unpack five of her best roles, including her current turn as Eileen “Candy” Merrell in HBO’s The Deuce. Candy is a prostitute working Times Square in the 1970s, and Gyllenhaal has found the frequent sex scenes make it a little too easy to get into her character’s mindset. “There’s so much transactional sex,” she said. “I was a part of so many scenes where I would like, meet an actor who had one scene, we would have a sex scene together… and then they would leave and that would be it. It felt very much like what Candy’s doing, it was like a transaction and then you’re on to the next thing.”

But the actress never lobbied for Candy to experience a dip in business. Instead, Gyllenhaal channeled her frustrations into her performance. “I put it into the work, whereas Candy is [at first] like, ‘I’m cool, I’m fine, it’s all good,’ and by episode five she’s like, ‘Actually I cannot function anymore like this or I will die.’ That’s different stakes than I had. And then there’s still episode six, seven and eight, and she’s still having to trick and she’s still having to make porn and it’s not what she wants. So, I guess my feelings about it changed as her feelings about it changed, and maybe her feelings about it changed because I was getting a little tired of it.”

But the experience hasn’t put her off sex scenes entirely. “I think sex is sometimes a way of communicating things that can’t be communicated any other way, both in life and on film,” she said. She specifically mentioned her love of the non-transactional sex scene in The Deuce’s “What Kind of Bad,” which depicts Candy masturbating next to her date after he fails to give her an orgasm. “That scene I love, because that scene is a communication of something. I think that scene is political, I think that scene is emotional, I think that scene is new, it’s an expression of so many things that are important to me.”

Luckily, both Gyllenhaal and Candy sound like they’ll be getting a break from the Times Square grind soon. “I’m shooting season two and it’s very different,” said Gyllenhaal. “The circumstances are very different.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal Is Tired Of The Sex Scenes In The Deuce