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TimesTalks Panel with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Taylor Schilling, Lucy Liu and Mira Sorvino

25 Jul

The New York Times hosted a discussion with four women who are on current or forthcoming shows as part of the TimesTalks series; from network, cable to streaming and all with varying levels of experience in television and film. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Honourable Woman), Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black), Lucy Liu (Elementary) and Mira Sorvino (Intruders) sat down to talk about a variety of subjects including why television is so good for actresses at the moment and how they navigate some of the more challenging aspects of working in this industry.

Times TalkTelevision as a medium is constantly being championed as an outlet for complex female roles and this is something that is a staple discussion point during any panel like this.* This is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s first foray into television and the character she plays in the Sundance/BBC co-production The Honourable Woman is not one you are likely to see in a mainstream movie; she is strong, intelligent and poised and like a lot of fascinating characters there is a flip side where this crumbles. Having seen the first four episodes I can attest that Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Nessa Stein is complicated and her performance so far has been exceptional.

*Keri Russell talks about this during the recent THR roundtable and her role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes vs. The Americans is a pretty accurate example of why TV is viewed in this way over the more reductive roles that are generally on offer for women in film.

It’s not hard to see why Gyllenhaal took on a role like this and the beauty of TV is that there is so much more time to explore and dissect a character benefiting both performer and viewer. The idea that so many people watch TV as opposed to some of the tiny indie passion projects they have made gets referenced on multiple occasions.

Netflix is given praise for putting out a project like Orange is the New Black as it’s a show that has such strength in its diversity and the lack of restrictions on the content gives further creative freedom. This is a career high for Taylor Schilling (and when they were talking about film all I could think about was her cut down role as the wife in Argo) and her enthusiasm for this opportunity is obvious, particularly when previous work/heartbreak is brought up.

The manner in which these different shows are filmed varies from Maggie Gyllenhaal receiving all eight scripts at the start and shooting scenes for multiple episodes on the same day (all written and directed by Hugo Blick) to Lucy Liu’s episode by episode traditional network model with a variety of directors (including herself). TV can be many things including auteur like projects, adaptations of popular novels with both long and short form storytelling coming into play.

One thing that comes across from this panel (and at just over an hour and a half a lot of ground is covered) is that all four of these women have experienced some things they haven’t necessarily been comfortable with and they have had to learn how to say no when it hasn’t felt right to them. Mira Sorvino is thrilled to find out that she is not alone in having felt like and there is a lot of common ground despite the differences in how they started out/where they are now. Self belief and belief from others are both driving forces and the ability to remain hopeful is a repeated notion. As one audience member points out it is kind of like having a free therapy session and getting to hear some of these candid thoughts in a free flowing long discussion makes this panel essential viewing.

Maggie Gyllenhaal brings up how ideas of perfection in this industry are something she wishes could fall away a bit. The double standard is another aspect of this and she mentions that the scrutiny is far greater on woman than it is for men (from her experience of living with an actor). Lucy Liu also points out how easy it is to share projects with the technology we have, but she also wishes that people weren’t so quick to tear something apart.

This is just a brief taster of the subjects that are covered and both Maggie Gyllenhaal and Taylor Schilling talk about the current cultural relevance of their shows among other aspects that concern the broader and more personal aspects of their careers. You can currently watch the whole panel here.

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One Response to “TimesTalks Panel with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Taylor Schilling, Lucy Liu and Mira Sorvino”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Comic-Con Kickass and Badass Female Centric TV Panel Highlights | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 29, 2014

    […] Sarah Paulson, Tatiana Maslany, Nicole Beharie, Maisie Williams and Natalie Dormer. Like the recent TimesTalks session it features women from a variety of shows from network and cable with a range of […]

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