Gillian Anderson attends a luncheon hosted by Roland Mouret in celebration of Women Filmmakers at the Corinthia Hotel London on May 1, 2019 in London, England.
Thursday 11 April 2019
2019 has turned out to be quite the year for Gillian Anderson. Naturally, the American-in-London has had plenty of “moments” already in her 25-year career, from The X Files to The Fall. But with the twin wins of Sex Education on Netflix and All About Eve in the West End, she has traversed media old and new, and turned out two of her career’s most talked about performances (and it’s only April). As Margot Channing in the latter, in bias cut carmine silk and MGM wig, she is mesmerising, filmed in closeup eight shows a week and then projected above the stage at the Noel Coward theatre, in Ivo van Hove’s cult re-working of the film classic. Today, this multi-layered portrayal of stardom on the slide will be screened in cinemas around the country as part of National Theatre Live. Fresh from her red carpet splash in Armani Prive at the Olivier awards last Sunday, Anderson took a moment to speak to Vogue about the culture and curios that have informed her life on the stage and beyond.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It follows the lives of four college friends through to middle age as they carve out their professional lives in New York. The novel is about friendship, love, trauma, abuse, addiction, fatherly love. It’s a profoundly heart-breaking read but the characters are so well drawn and one cares about them so much it becomes almost an addictive read – as if peeking through fingers – and despite being haunted after every sitting. I read the book when it first came out in 2015. And then saw Ivo Van Hove’s four hour stage production of it in Amsterdam (in Dutch!) It’s so rare that a book impacts on a cellular level and this one definitely did in both incarnations
I, Daniel Blake – a film Ken Loach came out of retirement to make. It won the Palme d’or in Cannes in 2016 and the BAFTA in 2017. It’s about a widower in Newcastle who after suffering a heart attack is deemed unfit for work by his doctor but not by a work capability assessment, and despite his many attempts to find work he is denied employment allowance and is forced to sell off his belongings for food. It’s ultimately about how the welfare system failed him by perpetually humiliating him instead of rewarding a man proud to have paid his dues to society. A very, very moving film in classic Ken Loach social realism style. Really makes you think and want to act to change a stuck system
Well, the song that PJ Harvey has written for me to sing in All About Eve is just beautiful. It sounds like something that would fit in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. She wrote one for [my co-star] Lily James to sing too and both will soon be released in an album with proper accompaniment. PJ, aside from being a very talented musician, is just an all-around cool chick and it was a great privilege to not only sing the song eight times a week for what will be over three months but record it with her in her fantastic studio.
I find that I’m gone from London so much for work in this period that I can’t leave because of the play, and with people coming through town to see it, I’ve been making the most of what is at my doorstep. The Arbus at the Hayward, the Bonnard at Tate Modern and the Dior show at the V&A, or taking my kids to the skate park under the Westway and the food stalls adjacent, have been some recent trips. Or the Olympic Velodrome biking trails and Anish Kapoors’ “slide”. Exmouth Market, Columbia Road Market – this city just keeps giving.
It’s more a saying, but I guess it leads to advice. That “youth is wasted on the young” said by either Oscar Wilde of George Bernhard Shaw. I wish that someone had stopped me in my early twenties and told me very seriously to pay attention; to make the absolute most of every moment; to take care of myself in body and mind so that I could live my potential. Choice is the biggest privilege anyone has. There are so many people in the world who do not have the freedom of choice. So if you have it, for even a fleeting moment, seize it with all your might.
All About Eve will be broadcast to cinemas as part of National Theatre Live on April 11.