Fanhattan Interview (2013)
Gillian Anderson returns to TV in the BBC drama The Fall
Fanhattan: You’ve been off American television for about 10 years. What have you been doing with yourself?
Anderson: I haven’t been on American TV but I’ve been doing television overseas. I’ve been in London doing film and British television, which is mostly aired over there on PBS. So I haven’t entirely disappeared.
Fanhattan: What drew you to The Fall?
Anderson: Because I live in London and work in London, being offered this series was not much of a stretch from what I’ve been doing. It means that I get to stay pretty close to home in order to do it. It was seven weeks of shooting, which for me was longer than a lot of the things I had chosen to do. There was a certain bit of commitment in terms of really wanting to like something enough for me to be away from my kids. I would shoot for a week and go back home. Then shoot for another week and go back home. The thing that drew me the most was that the scripts were so good. It’s a psychological thriller of very high standard. I find all of the characters very compelling and complex. I fell in love with the character Stella Gibson. There are five episodes. Over there it’s quite common to have between five and 10.
Fanhattan: Can you tell us a little bit about your character Stella Gibson? There are definitely different layers to her. Will we learn more about her character as the season progresses?
Anderson: You will to a degree. I think that is one of the things that appealed to me most about her. There is something about her that is intriguing. You won’t get everything in the first episode upon meeting her. You want to learn more about what makes her tick and why she’s making the decisions she makes. You see more sides of her as the series progresses. But also everything is not answered in these five episodes in terms of the crime and who she is. There is definitely a reason to tune into Season 2, if the next season happens. I think it’s highly likely there will be a Season 2.
Fanhattan: Are you surprised by the positive reaction to the show?
Anderson: I’m very happy. I was intricately involved in this project more than I’ve ever been before in something. And I feel very strongly about it and couldn’t be happier with the response right now.
Fanhattan: Were you ever afraid that people would compare your X-Files character with Stella Gibson?
Anderson: Yes. They are welcome to try and compare but they are very different women.
Fanhattan: What can we expect by the end of the season?
Anderson: You can expect to see the serial killer Spector continue to stalk women and maybe even kill them. You will continue to see Stella figure out who this person is. He is right under their noses. Spector starts to give clues or they find clues. After he realizes they find clues his behavior changes. It stays compelling.
Fanhattan: Shows like The Fall and others like it mirror what’s happening in the media today. Would you agree?
Anderson: I think that is one of the things that are most disturbing about the series. Spector is living a relatively normal life. We see him taking his kids to school and he’s a grief counselor for parents who lost their children. The fact that someone can live such an extremely double life right under our noses is very disturbing.
Fanhattan: Can you tell us about some of your past and current film projects?
Anderson: Since I’ve lived in the UK, I’ve done Bleak House for the BBC and Great Expectations. I’ve done Shadow Dancer a film with Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough that is about to hit American cinemas on May 21. And there are a couple of films I did last year that should be hitting theaters this year called I’ll Follow You Down and Sold.
Fanhattan: Tell us about your guest role on Hannibal.
Anderson: I’m in five episodes. They approached me and asked whether I would be interested in doing it, which I was at first. Then I talked to Bryan Fuller, the creator and he convinced me that it would be really cool to play Hannibal’s psychiatrist and to come up and do scenes with Laurence Fishburne, Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen. I couldn’t say no.
Fanhattan: How do you balance your family, friends and career?
Anderson: I do it very carefully. I’m a stickler for schedules. And I schedule things way in advance. I can tell you what I’m doing on a particular day this year in July. I will only agree to do things if it doesn’t impinge on my schedule or my kids. If I can feel that I can work it out and they still get to be with me for at least 50 percent of the time, that’s how I justify all of it. I have three kids. My oldest is 18.
Fanhattan: You were 24 when you started X-Files, you were quite young. How did you handle all of that success then?
Anderson: I think at the time I didn’t know what I was about to get myself into. I agreed to do the job because it was the biggest paycheck I had ever seen and certainly bigger than my parents had seen. There was no saying no to it. I had no idea of its potential and what it could lead to, let alone what it did lead to. Part of it was the fact we shot the first five years in Vancouver. And not being in one of the major cities like New York and Los Angeles helped to keep things grounded and keep priorities and your head straight. That had a huge impact on how I was able to handle it. I think had I been surrounded by paparazzi every time I would leave my house, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown. The fact that I was able to come and go quite anonymously and there weren’t paparazzi up there added to my ability to stay sane throughout the madness of the success.
Fanhattan: Is it quieter in London? With social media today, everything you do is uploaded in 30 seconds.
Anderson: It is a bit different. I don’t have the same situation like Kiera Knightley that lives over there or a Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t have people camped outside my door, which happens over there. There’s a tiny bit more respect over there you don’t have a TMZ or people with video cameras. There are certain areas of town that one knows to stay away from if you want privacy. I live a very quiet life but full of culture and friends.
Fanhattan: What are you reading right now?
Anderson: I just finished reading Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King and Sharon Olds, a poet, has a book called Stag’s Leap. I’m reading George Saunders’ Tenth of December. I love books.
Fanhattan: Actors act so much, do you ever take the time out to see a movie?
Anderson: I see everything. Most of the stuff I’m looking forward to seeing has actually come out and I haven’t had a chance to see it. I want to see the documentary Queen of Versaille, West of Memphis and Incendies. I have to say I’m looking forward to Superman.
The Fall airs on BBC2 and will stream exclusively on Netflix starting May 28.