Back Where I Belong
By Emma Bullmore
TV Times: May 7, 2013
Former X-Files star Gillian Anderson on returning to investigation and feeling like an alien in America.
There 's a serial killer on the loose in Belfast. During the day he's a loving father and husband, but at night he acts on his depraved fantasies, murdering young women. He's not on the police radar and nobody has even linked his killings.
That's the premise of new BBC2 five-part crime thriller, The Fall, in which Gillian Anderson plays DSI Stella Gibson, a brilliant detective parachuted into a struggling investigation team.
"Stella's quite mysterious and you don't find out much about her, you just get little snippets here and there," Gillian, 44, tells TV Times. "She has to strike a delicate balance - she needs to solve the murder but she doesn't want to be condescending or give the impression that she thinks the team is incompetent."
Good female role model
Gillian, who played FBI agent Dana Scully in cult series The X-Files from 1993 to 2002, was initially reluctant to sign up for another long-term project.
"This is the first thing I've done that's resembled a series since The X-Files Committing a chunk of time to something that wasn't a film was a big decision and I had to make sure it was something I was passionate about," she explains.
"I was taken by the complexity of the script and I found the character of Stella very appealing from the beginning. She's probably my favourite character ever. I actually prefer her to Scully, who I very much enjoyed creating. I identify with Stella more and I've learned a lot from her as a woman. I appreciated how confident and unashamed she is, and I felt I matured and got more comfortable with myself while playing her. She tells it like she sees it and I think women will like that."
Gillian was also drawn to the genre-defying nature of the script, which reveals "whodunit" from the outset.
"It adds something a bit different that we know who the murderer is. There's a particular level of creepiness to it when you see the serial killer strangling someone while you're also following the person who's hunting him down."
She insists that the subject matter of The Fall isn't too disturbing for TV.
"It's a difficult line for writers, in terms of how things are presented dramatically, but here it's not gratuitous. There are other shows doing similar things where you feel it's purely for the sake of seeing a naked woman, but this feels like it's all within the realm of possibility for the pieces."
London feels like home
Gillian, who now lives in London with her three children, Piper Maru, 18, Oscar six, and Felix, four, enjoys working on UK productions. She's found acclaim in BBC1 adaptations of Dickens' Great Expectations and Bleak House.
"I've lived in the UK for a decade and a lot of the material I like tends to be from here, so it's convenient," she smiles. "Shooting another series in America would mean conversations about moving schools.
"I grew up in London and moved to Michigan as an 11-year-old with a thick British accent, trying to figure out where I fitted in. I eventually began to feel more American but I always knew I'd end up here."