Maggie Gyllenhaal on porn, feminism and Hillary Clinton

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal attends The National Board of Review Gala, held to honor the 2015 award winners, in the Manhattan borough of New York on January 5, 2016.

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Maggie Gyllenhaal is too busy to read "Middlemarch," even though she told her friend she would. The actress has had her hands full working on three short films for Jameson's "First Shot" competition, shooting the upcoming HBO show "The Deuce" and spreading the word on why she's voting for Hillary Clinton.

Gyllenhaal took a break from her schedule (and reading books for her role in "The Deuce") to talk to CBS News about modern feminism, porn and how she tries to level with her peers about Donald Trump.

You got to work on three short films with aspiring filmmakers for the Jameson's "First Shot" competition. What was it like to mentor young filmmakers?

I approached it very much like I'd approach any project. They were full of curiosity and humility and they really wanted to collaborate with me on the projects and the ideas around the projects. I didn't really know any other way to do it except to approach it the way I always do. It's often about collaboration and about everyone together on set trying to come up with the most exciting way of telling a story, so that's the same thing we were doing here, except that they were real beginners.

Is there one that you hold most dear?

You know, they are so different. These filmmakers were so different. That's what was really interesting -- working with three different filmmakers over 10 days, which is extremely unusual, and to see how different they are. There's no way to pick a favorite there. They're each their own thing.

How is working on "The Deuce"?

I'm in heaven. I'm so happy to be working on "The Deuce." We're halfway through right now, maybe a little less, and it's been certainly one of the most exciting work experiences I've had. I absolutely love it. I love David [Simon] and George [Pelecanos, co-creators] -- they did "The Wire" and "Treme" -- they're incredibly smart and emotionally aware, intelligent and I couldn't be happier.

Tell me more about your character.

I'm a prostitute in 1971 in New York City. It's about the beginning of the porn world in New York in the early '70s, too, so it does shift focus to that.

As a feminist, what's your take on porn? Do you believe it's empowering or female slavery, as Gloria Steinem once called it?

I don't think I fall on one side of that line but I definitely feel like our projects and my work in our projects is feminist and absolutely part of the conversation I'm having in my own mind about what it means to be a feminist and what it means to be a woman as a sexual person, a thinking person, a feeling person, so I'm not able to make a blanket statement about porn. I don't feel like that makes any sense, but this show, at least so far, is absolutely part of the feminist conversation.

I play a prostitute from a feminist perspective because I can't help it. And David and George, too. I'd be shocked if they disagreed with me. And then I came home to watch Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic nomination with my 9-year-old daughter.

What was it like for you to see that?

I was incredibly impressed with her speech. I was really moved. I cried a couple of times and yes, a lot of it had to do with the fact that she's a smart, capable, powerful woman. And on the main stage, she took that and expressed it so beautifully. I was so moved by it.

I'm developing a TV project right now about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to ever run for president in the U.S. in the late 1800s, so to come from that and see Hillary give that speech -- it just put me over the edge. Not that I was ever going to vote for Trump, but now I'm full-on behind her.

You wrote on Twitter that you were trying to convince someone you know that Trump has said racist things in the past --

No -- I was trying to convince him that Trump is a racist, which I absolutely believe. Not "has said racist things in a past." Is a racist.

Do you find yourself having real-life conversations like that a lot? Do you think it makes a difference?

What was interesting was the guy I was talking to is very, very smart and intelligent. I don't think he'd call himself a Trump supporter but is leaning that way. I think in a way there is a dissociative, non-thinking group of people voting for Trump. It's difficult to have a conversation with those people. But he is very smart, thoughtful, interesting, so he and I talked a lot.

He worked on a film I'm doing over the months. We've been talking about what's going on in the world and how our positions are different. Sometimes it's easy to see people who think differently than you as an enemy but he thinks differently from me. I read a [Nicholas] Kristof article about all of the ways Trump has been racist over his career and I was talking about that article and now he said I'm moving the dial. We're both listening to each other, so it was nice to have a conversation.

You've received a lot of acclaim for narrating an "Anna Karenina" audiobook and you called it very challenging in another interview. What made it so difficult?

You know, I feel just irritated by that interpretation. In this interview, I didn't say it was difficult for me like it was this challenging difficult thing to do. It was work. It was very, very hard work but it was also incredibly inspiring and exciting and full of pleasure for me. My point in the original interview where I said that was just like "The Deuce," just like anything I've done that's meant anything to me, it took a huge amount of work. I didn't realize quite how much work it would take before I began.

It was my naïveté that thought, "Oh, this will be cool. I'll just sit and read 'Anna Karenina,'" but no, it requires homework, reading, staying ahead of myself at home and then coming in and doing the reading aloud. It requires many hours a day.

Speaking of reading, what's on your summer reading list?

Well, I was reading a lot of books about prostitution and pornography. I'm reading a book called "Ladies of the Night," which I'm loving, and "Porn Star," which has been helpful. I've been trying that Luc Sante book, "Low Life," which is about New York and the history of New York. A girlfriend and I said we were going to read "Middlemarch" together, but I've barely cracked it.

You can see Gyllenhaal's short films with Jameson's "First Shot" below.

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    Andrea is an entertainment producer at CBSNews.com