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BBC Movies Interview

April 23, 2007

by Rob Carnevale

Gillian Anderson shot to prominence as David Duchovny's sceptical FBI partner in long-running TV series The X-Files, which also spawned a blockbuster movie. She's been keeping herself busy since the finish of the show with several appearances in London's West End, a Golden Globe nominated performance in the BBC's Bleak House and film roles in The House of Mirth, A Cock & Bull Story and The Last King of Scotland.

But she's set to shock fans with her role in Straightheads, a hard-hitting tale of violence and revenge. Here she tells BBC Movies why she has no regrets...

What appealed to you about Straightheads?

What drew me to it was two-fold. Firstly, there was a back story with Alice [her character] that's no longer in the film that involved her being raised by her father, who was ex-army, and being basically taught to shoot and seek revenge - whether it's deer eating the plants or whatever. It was a twisted relationship between her and her dad.

I also found the double life [idea] quite intriguing, that a woman who's quite successful in her own right and in the business world might have a secret story like this. A story that she has pushed far enough behind her, but which then comes back to haunt her despite proving, in a sense, useful. She has to drag it out of the cobwebs to survive, or at least feel that she can go on with her life. I was compelled enough by that story to meet with Dan [Reed, director], and once I started talking about what his vision was for the film I liked what he was attempting to say.

Did you also like the idea of exploring a different kind of genre?

Yes. I've seen a lot of dark scripts over time but somehow they all had to do with a single woman or a family moving to the country into a house being haunted. I swear to God I've seen that script six different times over the past couple of years, with the resident evil that takes over. This was obviously quite different and an opportunity to express another part of myself. It's something quite volatile and ballsy in a different way than I've had an opportunity to do before. I wanted that experience and that challenge as an actor.

Do you find it disappointing that the back story scenes you mention were cut from the final print?

I don't know. It's difficult for me to have perspective because I know the script so well. It's hard for me to tell whether one misses it or not. A lot of people say that you get that [sense of back story] anyway, so it's not actually needed.

The film is sure to draw a very strong response from people because it's very difficult to watch at times. Is that something you're prepared for?

Dan understands that there's going to be people that greatly dislike it and even hate it, as well as those who like it and get it. He's completely prepared for that mix of response. But it's getting people to have conversations about violence and the degree of violence in film.

I also hope there's a conversation at some point about rape because people tend to jump immediately to the last scene and skip over the brutality of the rape itself. That's really interesting and fascinating that it kind of skips over people's retina or something. Perhaps it's because we see it so much, or it's something that's become normal in our society today, but I'm not sure what the subconscious justification is for not finding it [the rape] as atrocious as it actually is.

How hard was it to separate yourself from the character at the end of the day? I imagine it was quite a gruelling experience?

Sometimes what happens when you're shooting things on location is you're kind of in your own bubble. If I was going from that to my house in London it would have been different. But I was out there and my daughter was with her dad so it was easier to slide in and out. Sometimes it got meshed but it was mostly OK.

Are you worried about the response it might generate among your fans?

I don't regret it at all. But regardless of what the general response is I think it was a really important experience for me to have. It was very challenging in many ways and I think that I released a lot. I also loved the experience of working with Dan and it was a blast working with Danny Dyer.

Is there any truth to the persistent rumours surrounding a new X-Files movie?

Yes, there are new rumours of an X-Files movie possibly happening, which is brilliant. Whenever they manage to get it together I'm on board.

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