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CRAZY HEART

Hello Trouble
Bad Blake's life might have gone on just the way it always had – from one minor tour to the next, one soulful bar to the next, one hard drink to the next – if he never met Jean Craddock. But once he does, Bad is destined to try to be better than he ever has before.

Finding the right Jean was so vital to making Bad's love story feel real, that Jeff Bridges became very involved in the casting sessions, and it was Bridges who ultimately chose Maggie Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal has twice been nominated for a Golden Globe® – for her role as a mentally unstable employee in the Sundance Festival winner SECRETARY; and for her performance as an excon trying to start again in SHERRYBABY – and drew accolades as Gotham City lawyer Rachel Dawes in the blockbuster THE DARK KNIGHT. But it was the energy that emerged between her and Bridges that convinced everyone she had to be Jean.

"She and Jeff had tremendous chemistry the first time they met,” says producer Judy Cairo of the choice. "Maggie is ageless…she's just an old soul. And she looks so perfect with Jeff. She has an earthiness, a rootedness to her that engenders great empathy."

Gyllenhaal instantly liked Jean and also felt she knew Jean. "She seems like a real person to me,” she says. "Someone who is strong in some ways and yet knows she is weak in others, and that's what I look for in the people I play – that they feel real. That appealed tremendously to me.”

In playing Jean she wanted to get at all the things that make Jean who she is: her charming naiveté as a new journalist; her fierce devotion as a single mother; her terror of getting her heart stomped on again; her tendency to be tempted by the excitement and pleasures of bad boys; and, most of all, her completely unstoppable feelings for Bad Blake.

"This movie can only work if you feel like Jean and Bad are completely crazy in love with each other,” she says, "and despite the fact that he's much older and they might seem like improbable lovers, they're drawn to each other like magnets. You have to see that Jean is fighting through all of that to make decisions that are rational and reasonable . . . and she's having a really hard time with it.”

Gyllenhaal also had to dig into what draws a woman to a man like Bad Blake in spite of all the brightly flashing danger signs. Although the actress herself is a big country music fan – drawn mostly to what she calls "old, folksy country” – she knew it was more than just Bad's talent and beautiful songs that would move Jean to take so many risks.

"I think Jean accepts a lot of these things in Bad because she herself is kind of drunk on love for him,” she explains. "I also think there's a part of her that loves how it feels to be bad. But, she's a really emotional person and there are parts of Bad that are so wonderful, the way he cares for her son Buddy which really moves her, the way he's so loving with her, even when he's drunk. She just doesn't want to acknowledge that there's this gaping hole that will ultimately make it impossible for them to be together.”

The fact that Gyllenhaal is a fairly new mother herself lent her further insight into the push-and- pull her character experiences between what's in her heart and what she knows she needs to do for her son.

"This is the first film Maggie's done since she had her baby,” points out Judy Cairo. "So I think playing a character that has a young child who might be in jeopardy really hit home for her. It's something she called upon during those emotional scenes.”

"I have played mothers before I was one,” notes Gyllenhaal, "but I do think it's incredibly difficult to act like you're a mother if you're not. There are so many things I understand better now. For example, there's a little scene where I put Buddy to bed, and when I did<

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