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Nanny McPhee Returns clip
Nanny McPhee Returns clip: Clip from the family film Nanny McPhee Returns, starring Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in Nanny McPhee Returns. / Larsen and Talbert for USA TODAY
Gyllenhaal plays Mrs. Green in Nanny McPhee Returns. / Liam Daniel

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Rules are made to be broken. Just ask Maggie Gyllenhaal, whose 3-year-old daughter, Ramona, needed to be entertained during a recent trek to the Massachusetts coast for a family vacation.

“I have a little hippie in me in terms of the way I'm raising her — although we did pick up some Polly Pockets for the five-hour drive up here,” the actress says with a giggle during a recent phone chat, referring to the popular, and very plastic, dolls.

Gyllenhaal and actor Peter Sarsgaard, who were married last year, live a low-key life in Brooklyn. They frequent neighborhood restaurants and take Ramona to the playground, and Gyllenhaal takes the subway. She and Sarsgaard take turns working: one parent at home, the other at work.

“It's my turn now,” she says. Indeed. This year, she earned her first Oscar nomination for Crazy Heart. Next weekend, her new movie, Nanny McPhee Returns, opens. In the sequel to the 2005 family comedy, she plays Mrs. Green, an overburdened mom with a quintet of unruly children. Gyllenhaal says she can relate.

“I've definitely been brought to my knees” as a parent, she says. “I remember when I was pregnant thinking: ‘My life isn't going to change.' That's not how it's been.”

So will she take little Ramona to see the PG-rated Nanny McPhee? Gyllenhaal says no.

“I'm not into my daughter, at this point, seeing me in movies. I think it's confusing.”

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