Maggie Gyllenhaal’s foray into TV comes in the form of Sundance TV’s “The Honorable Woman,” a British spy thriller miniseries that follows Nessa Stein (Gyllenhaal), who after watching her father’s assassination and inheriting his Israeli/English arms supplier company, repurposes it into an asset aiding the Middle East peace process.
The miniseries is told in eight parts and comes from executive producer Greg Brenman and writer/director/producer Hugo Blick. Gyllenhaal, Brenman and Blick were joined onstage by co-star Janet McTeer at the 2014 Summer TV Press Tour for a panel on Friday (July 11).
5. The conspiracy theories about young Nessa’s skin color are creative, but false
Blick immediately shot down conspiracy theories about the girl who plays young Nessa and her darker skin tone, saying that she really is a young version of Gyllenhaal’s character despite being much tanner than Gyllenhaal. “[Before shooting the series,] she went on holiday and came back tanner,” Blick says. “When we cast her she was much paler, and when she came to shoot she was much darker.” No child switcharoos this season.
4. Will there be a Season 2 or spinoff series?
Nope. Both Blick and Brenman are adamant that this miniseries is over and done as soon as the finale airs. “It is a mini series and it has a completion,” Blick says. “And it’s really important to see the whole thing.”
Brenman adds, “This show is about secrets and those will be exposed. It’s about questions and those will be answered.”
3. Nessa’s episode 1 breakdown is just the tip of the iceberg
At the end of episode 1, Nessa finally lets her guard down after holding her composure all day long and breaks down in tears. According to Gyllenhaal, there is so much more to explore about Nessa’s psychological state than that one scene.
“What you see in episode one, that initial break, is just the beginning,” Gyllenhaal teases. “She starts to crack up and she can’t maintain it.”
2. Should you watch weekly or binge-watch the whole series on Neflix?
According to Brenman, you can do either one, but he has a preference. “I think it does work weekly and it does work over one weekend to watch all eight hours,” Brenman says. “It was created like a huge movie, all at once. [But] you’ll be a slightly different person by the end of it [if you watch week to week].”
Gyllenhaal agrees, adding that her personal preference would be to watch weekly. “There’s something so nice about having to wait,” Gyllenhaal says. “I think there’s something delicious about seeing one episode and wanting to know what happens next and having to wait.”
1. Gyllenhaal’s British accent is flawless
Gyllenhaal speaks in a British accent for the role of Nessa, and according to her British co-star McTeer, it’s perfect. “She’s actually British,” McTeer jokes. “She’s just pretending to be American. Her accent is phenomenal.”
Gyllenhaal credits her dialect coach with how relaxed she felt speaking in a British accent. “I actually wish I could talk like that all the time,” Gyllenhaal says. “This was the first [role] I really felt like it was just in my bones.”
“The Honorable Woman” premieres July 31 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV.