Interview: Actress Gillian Anderson talks 'Last Love'
By David Wangberg
Examiner: October 30, 2013
The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with award-winning actress Gillian Anderson to talk about her new film, "Last Love," which opens in select theaters on Nov. 1. Anderson is most notably known for her role as Dana Scully in the hit Fox series, "The X-Files," and she currently has a recurring role as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier on NBC's "Hannibal."
In "Last Love," Anderson plays Karen Morgan, the daughter of Matthew Morgan (Michael Caine) - a widower living in Paris who finds a new zest for life through a young dance instructor named Pauline (Clemence Posey). But whenever he's alone, Matthew still thinks of his dead wife, Joan (Jane Alexander), who visits him on occasion. Matthew botches an attempt at committing suicide, and Karen and her brother, Miles (Justin Kirk), pay him a visit. Miles then tries to reconnect with his father and tries to understand the relationship between he has with Pauline.
Anderson talked about her role in "Last Love"; her choice to take on more recurring and supporting roles; and she even talks about how "The Wrong Trousers" is not her favorite movie of all time - even though it says so on her IMDb page.
David Wangberg: A couple of days ago, I got the confirmation for this interview, and I wasn't sure if I could do it. But then all my friends started getting on my case about it, saying, "You have to do it! You have to do it!"
Gillian Anderson: [laughs]
DW: I was wondering if you've ever had that moment where you audition for a role, get the role, and then you go, "Oh, I'm not sure if I can do it," and then your friends tell you, "You have to do it! You have to do it!"?
GA: I think I have that all the time. [laughs] I just signed up to do something, which I'm going to be doing next year in London. It's a play that I've wanted to do my whole life, and, of course, now that it's happening, I go, "What was I thinking? I can't do this. I can't do it." So, yes, I understand. And the friends that I'd be talking to, it's at a point where people would say these things like, "You're going to be sued if you don't do this"... not so much, "Hey, you have to do this." It's like, "Are you crazy?" Anyway, how are you doing?
DW: I'm doing very well. Yeah, everyone was OK with it; my boss was fine with it; so, I'm like, "Cool! I get to do it!" [laughs]
GA: And here we are! [laughs]
DW: Now, one of the quotes in "Last Love" is, "The day we figure out everything is the day we die." As someone who's been in numerous films and one of the most successful television shows of all time, do you think there's something about being an actress that you need to figure out?
GA: I only feel like I've just begun. I constantly feel like I haven't even started to do the kind of stuff that I really want to have an opportunity to do. And I think about, in my life, how important it is to remain teachable, and I certainly find that in the work that I do. I'm constantly learning things within the roles that I choose to do and learning about being an actress. Every job brings a different challenge - not just with the position of characters and figuring that out, but also just that each film set is a community and you're constantly learning how to have opportunities to be a better person with it. [laughs] It can be challenging. I think that it often happens - that we don't appreciate the things in our lives until the very end or until they're past almost in retrospect.
DW: Do you think you can learn something new not just from someone who's been doing it longer than you have, like Michael Caine, but also from someone who hasn't been doing it as long, like Clemence Posey?
GA: Oh, sure - absolutely! I mean there are some fantastic young actors out there who are better than some of the actors who have been doing it for decades. I honestly believe we can learn from everybody. We can learn from everybody that's a part of us in our lives - whether it's a person who's behind the cash register or somebody that we're working with professionally or a boss or a child.
DW: Your character is only in the film for a little bit, but she's more like the comedic relief for the story. What was it that interested you in taking on this role? I usually see you as the FBI agent or the therapist - something that's a more serious role.
GA: Well, for exactly that reason. I've actually done quite a lot of comedy in my work, but a lot of it has either been in theater or has gone straight to video. [laughs] And I enjoy doing comedies very much. The main reason for me to do this, initially, was to work with Sandra [Nettelbeck], because we've tried to work together a couple of times before, and I have a huge admiration for her talent. That was it, and then when Michael Caine agreed to do it, then, obviously, that was a big pull. At the end of the day, even if I want to work with a director, if I don't feel like I can connect or make something of the character, then it would be silly of me to agree to do it. The opportunity to get to be wacky - to do something quite different than what I've done before - was obviously a plus.
DW: And one of my favorite moments was when you're going to say "Goodbye" to Justin Kirk's character, and you go, "You're my favorite brother." And he responds with, "I'm your only brother." Then you go, "Details!" Whenever you take on a certain role that you know is going to be great, do you just say, "Oh, I don't want to know all the details; just give me the role."? [laughs]
GA: Sometimes. If somebody calls up and says, "Paul Thomas Anderson wants you to be in his next film," I don't think I'd even need to read the script.
DW: Ever since "The X-Files" ended in 2002, you've been taking on a lot more supporting character roles or recurring character roles for TV shows. What is it that attracts you to these roles rather than a lead role?
GA: Time, basically. I've been trying not to do TV for the past decade. I'm only doing BBC stuff, which has been more like what Americans would call mini-series. I've done some Dickens stuff over there, and then I did a series called "The Fall," which is now on Netflix and DVD in the States. That's a lead [role], and we'll continue - we're going to do a second season. I'm saying "Yes" to doing these things, but NBC was exactly, and only, because they are part of an ensemble. I usually wouldn't choose away from where I live. I have three kids and just popping in to be part of an ensemble is exactly what the doctor ordered.
DW: So, you're only doing every other episode of "Hannibal" or just a few episodes here and there?
GA: It's kind of where it fits into the storyline. I did a couple for the top of the next season, and I'm waiting for a particular storyline to conclude for me to come back again. I'll probably go back again at some point in November and do a couple more. It's more about the structure of the series rather than any set amount.
DW: As I was doing research on your Internet Movie Database page, it says that your favorite movie is "The Wrong Trousers," the Wallace and Gromit film, and...
GA: No! No! That's not my favorite movie!
DW: It's not, huh?
GA: It's so hard to take things off IMDB; it's like you have to mess with it for years - either to take stuff off or to add stuff on. No, that's not my favorite movie. Years and years ago, before Wallace and Gromit had hit America, I had seen the small films and was a fan of Nick Park, the director. And I was saying that in an attempt to get more attention drawn toward his films, because I thought they were so brilliantly done.
DW: So, then, what is your favorite movie of all time?
GA: Oh, my gosh; that's a difficult thing to answer. I don't know. Obviously, I've been asked that before. For years, I think [Bernardo] Bertolucci's "1900" was really up there on the list and "The 400 Blows" and that kind of stuff. There are so many extraordinary films and some smaller films that were completely unexpected that would be added to that list. I don't think I can come up with a single film as an answer. What's yours?
DW: You know, I get that question asked all the time, and I change it every single time. It's hard for me to pick just one. But I usually go with the "Godfather" films or "The Deer Hunter" or [Federico] Fellini's "8 1/2." So, it varies.
This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Gillian Anderson for taking the time to talk about "Last Love."