Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the role of the harried young mother Mrs. Green who receives some magical (and much needed) assistance raising her children while her husband is at war in new family-friendly film “Nanny McPhee Returns.”
It was almost a case of life imitating art for the 32-year-old actress, who told Pop Tarts she couldn’t keep up with the demands of movies and motherhood after she and husband Peter Sarsgaard had their first child together in 2006.
“Mrs. Green literally had a birds nest in her hair and children hanging from the chandelier and she kept saying she was fine. I was definitely like that. When my daughter was first born I kept saying ‘I don’t need anybody, I’m just going to do this by myself.’ I thought I could make a home, be a good wife, and do all these things. I thought ‘I’m just going to call my mom,’” Gyllenhaal told Pop Tarts at a special screening of the film in New York City last week. “But I have since realized that wasn’t realistic for me…It’s okay not to be able to do everything all the time, to fail as a parent sometimes. Now I have a wonderful nanny. I am somebody who spends every possible minute I can with my daughter – I really believe that’s important, but I do need help."
Gyllenhaal is also convinced that the positive energy that came from Emma Thompson’s fantastical Nanny McPhee rubbed off even when she left the set.
“I believe this movie must have brought me good nanny karma because I found a lovely, lovely nanny for my daughter – I just thank god for her,” she added.
Gyllenhaal said caring for children as a single parent is a concept many relate to in 2010.
“Your husband doesn’t need to be at war [like hers is in the movie] to be up against it. Coping and not coping – it’s a very fine line," Thompson said. “Maybe you’re away for work, or the parents are divorced, but it’s a very contemporary issue.”
As for her own magical mothering tips?
“You don’t always have to solve their (the kids) problems, just sit with them,” Thompson suggested. “Just being with them and not saying anything can do so much.”