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Secretary (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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Secretary -- Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has a few strikes against her when she applies for a secretarial position at the law office of E. Edward Grey (James Spader). At first the work seems quite normal but soon in between typing, filing and coffee making, Lee and Mr. Grey embark on a more personal relationship together, crossing the lines of conduct that would give any human resource director the vapors!
Secretary -- A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.
Secretary -- Theatrical Preview


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Down 5% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay)
Mary Gaitskill (short story)
View company contact information for Secretary on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
11 October 2002 (USA) See more »
Assume the position. See more »
A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for Golden Globe. Another 18 wins & 22 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Thoughtful and yes, sentimental. See more (390 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

James Spader ... Mr. Grey

Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Lee Holloway

Jeremy Davies ... Peter

Lesley Ann Warren ... Joan Holloway

Stephen McHattie ... Burt Holloway

Patrick Bauchau ... Dr. Twardon

Jessica Tuck ... Tricia O'Connor

Osgood Perkins ... Jonathan (as Oz Perkins)

Amy Locane ... Lee's Sister

Mary Joy ... Sylvia

Michael Mantell ... Stewart
Lily Knight ... Paralegal

Sabrina Grdevich ... Allison
Lacey Kohl ... Louisa

Julene Renee ... Jessica

Lauren Cohn ... First Secretary

Ezra Buzzington ... Typing Teacher

Kyle Colerider-Krugh ... Mr. Garvey
Steven Fierberg ... First Date

Herbert Russell ... Second Date (as Russell Harper)
David Wiater ... Tomato Date
Shannon Convery ... New Secretary
Alison Tatlock ... TV Reporter
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Emmy Collins ... Zoo Protester (uncredited)

Christina Gray ... Photographer (uncredited)
Diane McGee ... Woman with the Purple Boots (uncredited)

Cali T. Rossen ... Dancing Party Guest (uncredited)

Steven Shainberg ... Richard Arevalos (sex therapist on tape) (voice) (uncredited)

Erin Cressida Wilson ... Sitting In Mr. Grey's Waiting Room (uncredited)

Directed by
Steven Shainberg 
Writing credits
Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay)

Mary Gaitskill (short story)

Steven Shainberg (story adaptation) and
Erin Cressida Wilson (story adaptation)

Produced by
Jamie Beardsley .... executive producer
Andrew Fierberg .... producer
Amy Hobby .... producer
Joel Posner .... executive producer
P.J. Posner .... executive producer
Michael Roban .... executive producer
Steven Shainberg .... producer
Original Music by
Angelo Badalamenti 
Cinematography by
Steven Fierberg 
Film Editing by
Pam Wise 
Casting by
Ellen Parks 
Production Design by
Amy Danger 
Art Direction by
Nick Ralbovsky 
Set Decoration by
Michael Baker 
Michael Murray 
Costume Design by
Marjorie Bowers 
Makeup Department
Raqueli Dahan .... key makeup artist
Robert Hall .... special effects makeup designer
Cynthia Laws .... hair stylist
Robert Ramos .... additional hair stylist
Cynthia P. Romo .... hair stylist: Lesley Ann Warren (as Cynthia Romo)
Nicholas Serino .... additional hair stylist
Production Management
Kyle A. Clark .... production manager (as Kyle Clarke)
Jennifer Lane .... post-production supervisor
Anthony Perretti .... production manager: second unit
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Kiran Gonsalves .... first assistant director
Solita Hanna .... first assistant director: second unit
Ivan Kraljevic .... second second assistant director
Carl Lawrence Ludwig .... first assistant director
Vince P. Maggio .... first assistant director (as Vince Maggio)
Jim Simone .... second assistant director
Stephen Jeffries Smith .... first assistant director: second unit
Art Department
Jami Anderson .... on-set dresser (as Jamie Anderson)
Richard Ankrom .... swing gang
Fernando Arevalos .... swing gang
Jesus Arevalos .... lead man
Luis A. Arevalos .... swing gang (as Luis Arevalos)
Dean Armijo .... scenic artist
Norman Barajas .... carpenter
Jimmie Beardsley .... scenic artist
John Besse .... construction coordinator
Matt Bourque .... scenic artist
Tom Brayton .... swing gang
Carlos Castellanos .... on-set dresser
Ben Conable .... additional art director
Ben Conable .... art director: second unit
Olivier Desplat .... on-set dresser
J. Enderson .... carpenter
Kara Engel .... scenic artist
Maria Folger .... carpenter
Robin Jacobson .... property master
Eric Johnston .... on-set dresser
David Lim .... illustrator
Seth Manchester .... carpenter
Melissa Murren .... art production assistant
E. Michael Olson .... art coordinator
Rebekah Schultz .... property assistant
Erik Shumpert .... carpenter
Travis Stevens .... swing gang (as Travis T. Stevens)
Angela Tafoya .... scenic artist
Dionisio Tafoya .... scenic artist (as Dionisio A. Tafoya)
Trifon Trifonopoulos .... swing gang
Lee Turner .... general foreman
Christoph Von Wangerheim .... art production assistant
Erik von Wodtke .... lead man
Tracey Woolfolk .... gang boss (as Tracy Woolfolk)
Derek Crimmel .... carpenter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Jon Ailetcher .... production sound mixer
Ryan Collison .... foley engineer
Seth Cooper .... boom operator
Dustin DuPilka .... sound editorial intern
Eric Free .... boom operator (as Eric A. Free)
Thomas Kodros .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby
Malaika Langa .... audio post coordinator
Brian Langman .... supervising sound editor
Eric McAllister .... assistant sound editor
Brett Michael .... boom operator (as Bret Michel)
Katherine Gordon Miller .... apprentice sound editor
James H. Nau .... adr editor (as Jim Nau)
Steve Schwartz .... sound effects editor
Ahmad Shirazi .... foley editor (as Maddy Shirazi)
Paul P. Soucek .... sound effects editor
Reilly Steele .... re-recording mixer
Eric Strausser .... assistant sound editor
Brian Vancho .... foley artist
Thomas Varga .... production sound mixer
Jonathan Wolff .... production sound mixer
Visual Effects by
Matthew Adams .... digital compositor: Cinesite
Randall Balsmeyer .... visual effects
J. John Corbett .... digital artist
Kathy Kelehan .... visual effects producer
Danny Albano .... digital artist (uncredited)
Mark Edwards .... visual effects producer: Title House Digital (uncredited)
Marguerite Happy .... stunt double
José Ignacio Álvarez .... stunt coordinator (as Ignacio Alvarez)
Camera and Electrical Department
Robin Acutt .... best boy electric
Leo Alverez .... key grip: second unit
Kelly Baldwin .... first assistant camera: second unit
Richard Benda .... director of photography: second unit (as Rich Benda)
Anthony Bertola .... grip
Bruce Birmelin .... still photographer
Jeremy Brussell .... best boy grip (as Jeremy Brussels)
Carol Carimi .... electrician
Harris Charalambous .... electrician
Gregory Code .... Steadicam operator
Carlos de Varona .... first assistant camera: second unit
Kyle Drevlo .... grip
Kathleen Farry .... second assistant camera (as Kat Farry)
John Foster .... director of photography: second unit
Garett Griffin .... underwater camera operator: second unit
Prashant Gupta .... still photographer
John Hankammer .... Steadicam operator
Gayle Hilary .... camera loader
John Hoffma .... grip
J. Alan Hostetter .... gaffer: second unit (as Alan Hostetter)
Takuro Ishizaka .... first assistant camera: second unit
Lila Javan .... second assistant camera
Scott Kevan .... director of photography: second unit
Chris Lally .... key grip: second unit
Kenji Luster .... Steadicam operator
Emily Mackley .... first assistant camera
Steve Madigan .... assistant camera: insert unit
Chris W. Martin .... electrician
Josh Martin .... grip
Gabriel Olguin .... electrician
Michelle Opseth .... second assistant camera
Jason Paris .... grip
Scott Repp .... electrician
Sonja Rom .... director of photography: second unit
William Russell .... gaffer
Megan Schoenbachler .... electrician
Aaron Schulte .... electrician
Lisa Stacilauskas .... electrician
Tom Stanger .... additional electrician
Holly Stein .... still photographer
Rick Tucker .... key grip
Tracy Tucker .... dolly grip
Alpheus Underhill .... grip
Isabella Vosmikova .... still photographer
Greg Williams .... underwater assistant camera: second unit
Benjamin Wolf .... first assistant camera: second unit
Casting Department
Lauren Cohn .... casting associate
Sondra James .... voice casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Corrie Mendes .... costumer
Lisa Neil .... costumer
Allison Siegel .... costume supervisor
Editorial Department
Katie Bevell .... post-production assistant
Bob Fredrickson .... color timer
Nadia Fugazza .... assistant editor
Jamie Governale .... apprentice editor (as James Governale)
Mark Moran .... post-production assistant
Jay Rabinowitz .... additional editor
Mattia Romeo .... assistant editor
Greg Tennant .... assistant editor
Kenneth Wachtel .... assistant editor
Scott Zone .... colorist
Location Management
Max Medema .... location assistant
Robert Medema .... location manager
Susan Stoebner .... location assistant
Music Department
Angelo Badalamenti .... orchestrator
James Flatto .... music editor
Phil Marshall .... orchestrator
Daniel Nielsen .... composer: trailer music
William Pearson .... music engineer (as Bill Pearson)
Beth Rosenblatt .... music supervisor (as Beth Amy Rosenblatt)
Transportation Department
Tom Calzia .... driver
John Cardos .... driver (as John 'Bud' Cardos)
P. Gerald Knight .... transportation captain
Mark E. Mobley .... driver
Jason Rider .... driver
Dan O. Wiseman .... driver: honeywagon
Other crew
Natalie Aston .... office production assistant
Marina Bailey .... unit publicist
Brian Bell .... development executive: Double A Films
Brian Bell .... production associate
D. Cole Berry .... set production assistant
Sharon Cingle .... script supervisor
Lloyd Clark .... craft service
Ron Coelho .... set production assistant
Clinton J. Collins .... stand-in: James Spader
Marlena De Fabrizio .... stand-in: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Minnie Duerr .... production accountant
Sam Dunn .... stand-in: James Spader (as Sam Dunnavent)
John Dybdahl .... assistant to director
Louise Fenton .... product placement coordinator
Louise Fenton .... production associate
Danny Gamez .... set production assistant
Scott Goldman .... assistant accountant
Carol Grant .... stand-in: Maggie Gyllenhaal (as Carol Lynn Grant)
Brenda Herrold .... set production assistant
Lu Cien Hioe .... production coordinator
Kristin Hjellegjerde .... stand-in: Maggie Gyllenhaal (as Kristin Hielleguerde)
Jan Kean .... unit publicist
Nora Killoran .... production associate
Aaron Kogan .... production assistant
Carl Lawrence Ludwig .... production associate (as Carl Ludwig)
Kenneth Lui .... set production assistant
Richard Mancuso .... post-production accountant
Nicole Alexandra Miller .... stand-in: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Kathy O'Neill .... stand-in: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Alex Panagakis .... publicist
Leslie Parry .... set production assistant
Jane Pien .... production intern: double A films
Tara Platt .... assistant to director
Phil Rodowsky .... continuity and spotting
Todd Rodowsky .... continuity and spotting
Jason Rody .... production assistant: second unit (as Jason Rowdy)
Jared Rowdy .... production assistant: second unit
Roy Ruiz .... security officer
Jenny Schweitzer .... development executive: Double A Films
Jenny Schweitzer .... production associate
Arantxa Silvestre .... set production assistant
Stephen Jeffrey Smith .... set production assistant
Babette Sofer .... set production assistant
Eric Ustian .... set production assistant
Spencer Wetmore .... set production assistant
Richard Yett .... stand-in: James Spader
Carol Grant .... stand-in: Lesley Ann Warren (uncredited)
Peter Pamela Rose .... adr loop group (uncredited)
Bill Timoney .... adr voice group (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for strong sexuality, some nudity, depiction of behavioral disorders, and language
104 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Despite her character struggling to lift heavy objects and climb into a dumpster, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal had no trouble performing these tasks.See more »
Factual errors: All the cars in the film have Florida license plates on the front of the car. Florida only has back plates.See more »
[first lines]
Lee:[narrating] I got out of the institution on the day of my sister's wedding. I had started to get used to the place. Breakfast at 8:00, classes at 2:00. Therapy at 4:00, and asleep by 10:00.
Dr. Twardon:[Lee's doctor says goodbye] You can call me any time, Lee. I will always try to be of help to you.
Lee:[narrating] Inside, life was simple.
Lee:[Lee hugs her doctor] Thank you, Dr. Twardon.
Lee:[narrating] For that reason, I was reluctant to go.
See more »
Movie Connections:
References Four Rooms (1995)See more »
It's So Strange (The Way Love Works)See more »


What's up with the worm?
Why does Lee stare into the camera at the end of the film?
What songs are featured in the film?
See more »
128 out of 148 people found the following review useful.
Thoughtful and yes, sentimental., 14 April 2003
Author: Kurt Berger from Dearborn MI

Those Gyllenhalls, they sure can act. Maggie, like her brother Jake, turns in great performances like they're routine - she makes it look easy. In 'Secretary', she delivers a layered, complex performance as Lee Holloway, a disturbed young lady who deals with stress by cutting herself - the pain pushes away everything else that's bothering her.

As she's released from an institution back into the world, she takes her first job as secretary to lawyer E. Edward Grey, played by James Spader. From then on, the movie explores their relationship and how it affects Lee, taking her from the quiet, self-damaging wallflower into the determined and strong woman she becomes.

The film's use of S&M in the relationship between Lee and Mr. Grey makes it a bit controversial, but it's not really the focus here. The idea of Lee as the submissive and Mr. Grey as the dominant have little to do with their sexuality and everything to do with their personality issues.

Lee can't handle extreme emotion without resorting to pain, because she can't take control of her own life. What she sees in Mr. Grey is love - absolute love, the likes of which she can't find with her fiance Peter (Jeremy Davies). That love allows her to give him the power of her pain - by doing that, she's finding something worthy to focus on instead of the nothingness of her sewing kit and iodine.

Mr. Grey, for his part, is a man who can't deal with anything except in his own ordered, regimented way. He cares for his orchids but little else, and the steps he takes with Lee open up his wary heart. He's slower to develop than she is, and to take the final steps towards a real, lasting relationship, he has to be dragged there by the force of Lee's own will.

The key to this film - and S&M relationships in general - is that Lee (the submissive) has all the power, not Mr. Grey (the dominant). She sets the terms by which the relationship will be conducted, seemingly for the first time in her entire life (including the relationships with her family). Lee finds love and desire in Mr. Grey, and pursues it while healing her own shattered psyche in the process.

Maggie Gyllenhall is luminous here. She can say more with a facial expression than most can in a Shakespearean soliloquy. She gives herself completely over to the part, without a wink or a nudge that she's just kidding, or thinks any part of this is silly. She becomes Lee Holloway, which is the best compliment you can give an actor. Spader, for his part, follows in a long string of oddballs, but doesn't go over the top, as he could have been tempted to do. This is Maggie's movie, and he supports it and plays off it well.

Rating: 8/10, based on the strong performance of Maggie Gyllenhall and the character of Lee Holloway, but nocked down due to a poorly-constructed finale that just doesn't fit with the rest of the film. Highly recommended.

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No computer? GabrielGlaukon
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I'm not into BDSM, but... (spoilers) red_red_robyn
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