Gillian Anderson Leaves Alien Abduction Days Behind… | Stuff.co.nz
Up front declaration. This is written by an unabashed Gillian Anderson fan.
And no, not just because she was voted the Sexiest Woman in the World in 1996. By then I was already converted – hooked on her role as level-headed FBI agent Dana Scully in the X-Files, opposite David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder.
And lately, anyone who saw her playing Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson in the Belfast-based The Fall will know that she’s come a long way since those alien abduction days, and only for the better.
Equally adept in TV, on the big screen and on stage, her versatility was on show last week when she was part of a team which won a Bafta for the animated film Room on the Broom, in which Anderson voices the good witch who invites a number of animals on to her broom. Her co-stars in the adaptation of the much-loved children’s book include Simon Pegg, Rob Brydon, Timothy Spall, Martin Clunes, Sally Hawkins and David Walliams.
But she’s on the phone from London to talk about her latest film, Mr Morgan’s Last Love, in which she has a short but bustling cameo as Karen Morgan, the daughter of Michael Caine’s character Mr Morgan. Anderson’s role as a fiery and frenzied shopaholic is all too brief but she injects an otherwise melancholic film with a comic energy akin to a startled cat woken from an afternoon nap.
“It’s a very sweet film,” Anderson says of the Paris-set tale which traces an unlikely friendship between Caine’s widowed Mr Morgan and a young dance teacher played by Clemence Poesy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, In Bruges).
“It’s about hope and rebirth and there’s a sweetness of life in it. The relationship Mr Morgan develops with Clemence Poesy’s character is really lovely and genuine and there’s something refreshing about that and even at that age there can be potential for an awakening of some kind.”
Anderson has just one scene with Caine but loved spending time with the doyen of English acting.
“It’s the first time I’ve worked with him and while we had just one scene together we spent an awful lot of time together. He’s a gentleman, a lovely man and he’s had an extraordinary life. He tells the most amazing stories.”
For fans of The Fall, Anderson confirms the show’s second series will go into production in February.
“I love the character,” she says of the independent and strong-willed Gibson, describing her as “very aware and comfortable with herself, her sexuality, what is feminine about her”.
After playing the terrifying Miss Havisham in Great Expectations and the fearsome Lady Dedlock in Bleak House, as well as the tough-minded Scully back in the X-Files days, it’s easy to assume Anderson is drawn only to strong roles.
She sees it differently, saying it’s not that she goes for such roles but “I don’t often get offered the kind of roles where the vulnerabilities are worn on the sleeve, so I’d love someone to send me something where I get to be ditzy.
“I tend to be really goofy in my life and people who know me and spend time with me would say I laugh a lot and goof around a lot.”
She does laugh easily, but tends towards thoughtful and well-paced answers on all manner of subjects, despite this interviewer’s scattergun approach as we try to cram a planned 25 minutes’ worth of questions into an rescheduled 10 minutes after our time was curtailed by the perils of non-functioning phone conferencing.
She doesn’t seem to mind the rushed nature of the interview: “It’s a busy world and I don’t keep up by any means,” she says almost apologetically.
That busy-ness she believes, is already transforming the way we interact with television.
“I’ve got a teenager [Piper, 18] and she’s watching a series right now on TV and is annoyed she has to wait until next week for the next episode. It’s driving her nuts but I tell her that’s how it always used to be.
“I imagine it’s going to pull more away from that weekly hit and become more instantaneous for people because we live in an instant world. I don’t know how that will impact TV networks but they are going to have to do things a bit differently.”
And with that, she’s off the phone, and out the door, laughing at an invitation to come to New Zealand to make a movie. “I hear it’s great there, I should come.”