Born on this day in New York City to film director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner in 1977, Maggie Gyllenhaal became an indie household name when Steven Shainberg’s Secretary hit theaters in 2002. Through the strength of her acting, defined by its quirkiness and subtlety, Gyllenhaal has landed roles in John Sayles’ Casa de los babys, Don Roos’ Happy Endings and Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction.

Filmstar Factoid: Initially, Secretary producers were focused on casting a bigger name for the lead role of Lee Holloway. But after a year of auditions and courting actresses including Christina Ricci and Claire Danes, the part was offered to Gyllenhaal, who garnered a Golden Globe nomination and won the National Board of Review award for “Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress.”