Dana Scully is Hannibal's psychotherapist
By Pam Pastor
Philippine Daily Inquirer: May 18th, 2013
Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia du Maurier in an upcoming episode of "Hannibal"
Gillian Anderson entered the conference room at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto. There was a sense of reverence in the air—almost as if royalty had walked through the door. And she is TV royalty - a queen to fans of "The X-Files."
It is undeniable that Dana Scully has been Gillian's role of a lifetime. Twenty years after the show first aired, fans still think of her as the fiery-haired special agent. But this year, she returns to American television for what is bound to be another memorable role in the new thriller "Hannibal"-as Dr. Bedelia du Maurier, Dr. Hannibal Lecter's psychotherapist.
The show, which debuted just last month, has been received positively by both critics and TV fans. The series explores the early relationship between Hannibal (played by Mads Mikkelsen) and FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) - this is before the FBI discovers that he is a serial killer and, yes, this is long before the days of "Red Dragon" and "Silence of the Lambs."
In a show whose main characters have yet to realize Hannibal's deliciously deadly undercurrent, Dr. du Maurier appears to have a little more insight into the gentleman cannibal's inner workings.
"I have conversations with a version of you and hope that the actual you gets what he needs," she tells him in one of their sessions.
Set to appear in several episodes this season, Gillian says of her character: "(Hannibal's) not going to get therapy from somebody who can't match his wit and his intelligence."
And, should there be one, will she be back for season two? Says Gillian: "Who knows? I don't die at the end of this season, so --"
We can only hope.
Gillian says there will always be a little Dana Scully in her.
You've seen many incarnations in TV shows and movies of people playing therapists and psychiatrists. What was your approach?
I've been in therapy since I was 14 years old, so I think I've seen enough therapists to not have to do that much research about it. But I think that that experience in sitting in front of people in that profession for many years has done the most to inform me how to play this character. And then, there is the intensity of the character of Hannibal, which also informs, as much as anything else, I think, how one.. he's not going to get therapy from somebody who can't match his wit and his intelligence.
Is it a cat-and-mouse type of relationship?
Kind of, yeah. It is, without being inappropriate.
What drew you to this project?
Well, timing for me is as much as anything. But I think primarily it was the opportunity to work with the actors who are involved in the project. The thought of being able to dip into Toronto for a few days and play with this lineup of actors was just almost too good to refuse. And also, there's a slight - it feels a little bit like a full circle, because "The X-Files" started shortly after "Silence of the Lambs" came out. And I was told shortly after we began that she (Dana Scully) was loosely based on Jodie Foster's character. There's something about it that feels like we're in the same conversation.
Is it true you were on the list of actresses considered to play Clarice after Jodie Foster said she wasn't going to make the sequel to "Silence of the Lambs"?
No. I met with Ridley. But I don't know whether I was really on the list. I mean, somebody suggested it and we sat down together. But I have no idea. I don't know.
How does it feel to finally be a part of "Hannibal"?
I mean, it feels great to be a part of this team. And I'm very grateful to be here and excited about our journey together. The thought of being able to dip into Toronto for a few days and play with this lineup of actors was just almost too good to refuse.
Why are we drawn to subject matters like this? What is it about that darker side of human nature that fascinates us?
I don't know. I can't watch it myself. I don't watch anything. I mean, I would just be hypothesizing about the degree of escape that is involved. And just with everything else in the world that is atrocious, that hits us on a daily basis, from when we look in our bank accounts to when we look on the television. Perhaps the only thing that can counterbalance that is something extreme as this.
So you don't watch television at all?
There's no guilty pleasures for you?
Oh, there's lots of guilty pleasures, but it doesn't go to television. (Laughs)
Why do you think Hannibal Lecter is such a compelling character?
From now on I'll always think of Hannibal as Mads. But before that, I used to think of Hannibal being wheeled out, you know, with that mask on, on that loading dock trolley, whatever the hell it was that he was on, which is terrifying. I mean, it sends chills down my spine, and, you know, which is, I think, the same thing that I just addressed. Maybe it's just something, you know, where seeing our nightmares played out in front of our eyes somehow, softens them. I don't know. I don’t get it.
Can you talk a bit about working with Mads?
He's unbelievable. He is amazing. I mean, we basically pretty much sit across from each other and talk. And he's fascinating as an actor to work with and to watch - it's funny. I was trying to figure it out, the last time we shot, what it was. He's very cool, but at the same time his emotions are pretty - they're not under his skin, but they're at his fingertips. And there's something very eerie and unsettling about that. It says so much. I mean, we've worked together for one day. And most of it we were in a chair sitting across from each other, doing the scene. The little bits in between we chatted about mutual friends and blah, blah, blah. But that's it. He was nice. He didn't eat me. (Laughs)
Does he bring you food?
Yeah. He's fed different characters.
What does Hannibal get out of his relationship to your character? What's he looking for in those psychiatric sessions?
That's actually a good question. And I think that question will remain, because it's elusive. And I think she probably wonders the same thing. But she knows that it's serving a purpose, and I think she feels protective of him, for a few reasons. And what we learn is that she is actually retired, but that he wouldn't accept that. So he's the only remaining patient she has. And they feed off each other. (Laughs)
What's your relationship with cannibalism?
Oh, I actually have a big relationship with cannibalism. When I was 5 - I'm joking.
What do you know about it?
What do I know about it? I know that it's addictive - that's pretty wild, isn't it? If you get a taste for human blood, apparently something happens chemically and you can't not want to have it again. That's, what happens with - well, it happens with mice. I think it happens with a lot of animals. Maybe I'm just making this up, but it's my understanding of cannibalism, that once you taste human flesh, and I mean - I don’t know. I don't know.
Maybe it's just that humans are really tasty. And that happens for lions, too. If lions taste humans they want more humans and less buffalos. I don't know. (Laughs)
You mentioned before that this is your return to American television. When you were filming in England, what was the difference in rhythm for you as an actor filming a television series over there and then filming over here?
Well, I was used to eight-day episodes. And over there it's usually a minimum of 10-day episodes and you don't do overtime. And so, 10 episodes can take six months, which is a big commitment in and of itself for a short - for a small output. But it also allows you some kind of breathing space, and it's not so, well, it's still pretty intense, but not like what it is over here.
I think they've been trying for a very long time to emulate what it is that the Americans do. But I'm not sure that they quite have it in them, just in terms of the insanity of it. I think they're used to something less crazy-making.
"The X-Files" was a good show when TV wasn't as well regarded as it is now. Would you say that shows like "The X-Files" paved the way for other shows such as the one you are in right now? How have they affected the evolution of TV?
Most definitely. Yes. It was number one. It kind of was. I mean, if you look at the way that it was lit, the way that it was shot, the production values, meaning the money that was thrown into it, and the horror aspect of it, the unsolved crimes. I mean, the amount of other shows that have tried to copy it over the last 20 years. (Laughs) It's the anniversary. I was at Comic Con in Seattle over the weekend, and I didn't even know that it was the 20th anniversary from the first year that we aired.
Have you kept in touch with Chris Carter and David Duchovny?
Would you be interested in coming back to Dana Scully if that opportunity arose?
In the future.
Is there any talk of a third movie?
Well, my understanding is that Chris was writing it for a while. I know that he's got a lot of other things on his plate. I don't know what level of his in-box that it's in right now. But I think he's - I think we all have it in our minds as something that we hope to revisit.
Is it true you directed one of the episodes of "X-Files"?
And are you working on something like that, directing or writing?
I optioned a book that I've been working on for a decade, for me to direct. And it will happen. I just don't know when.
In an interview, David Duchovny said he's always going to be a little bit of Fox Mulder. Do you feel like there's always going to be a little bit of Scully in you?
Do you take her with you in your performances?
No, but she's there somewhere.
Do you still enjoy acting? If I could take you back to maybe the beginning when you were first starting the craft, when you walk on a set like you did on the first day of "Hannibal," do you still get that same visceral thrill?
Oh, yeah. I mean, in many respects I feel like I've just begun.
Why is that?
There's so many things I haven't gotten to do yet that I really want to do. And I won't give up until I do.