The truth about Gillian Anderson
Actress has plenty of projects to talk about at Fan Expo Canada, between Hannibal, The X-Files and The Fall.
By: Richard Ouzounian Theatre Critic
The Star: September 3, 2015
The truth is that Gillian Anderson has a lot on her plate these days.
That means the actress will have a lot to discuss with the fans who'll line up to see her Saturday and Sunday at Fan Expo Canada at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Some people will want to know about the upcoming six-episode reboot of The X-Files, which she's finishing filming for Fox; others will want to grill her about the meaning of the final episode of Hannibal, which aired last week; a third group will be wondering what's ahead in Season 3 of The Fall, the dark crime drama on Netflix that goes back into production this autumn.
"There is a lot happening in my life, isn't there?" she says on a short break from shooting The X-Files.
"But I can usually guess what show people are devoted to when they walk up to the table to see me. I mean, apart from the dead giveaways like the Scully fridge magnets, the Bedelia T-shirts or the Stella bumper stickers.
"Different people like different shows and you can see it in their eyes. I find it fascinating and a bit exciting."
These days, Anderson is fielding a lot of questions about the controversial final shots of Hannibal (spoiler alert!), which found her psychiatrist character Bedelia Du Maurier seated a dinner table set for three, about to dine on her own leg.
"Well, what do you think it meant?" she asks. She laughs when I say it was a pre-emptive strike on her part against Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) carving her up himself.
"It could be that. It could be any one of the numerous theories that people are suggesting. I prefer that there remain an air of mystery around it, especially now that the series has ended. That's what keeps people talking about it.
"I mean, look at The X-Files."
Anderson was a 24-year-old stage actress with limited television experience when Chris Carter decided she was the perfect combination of intelligence, sexuality and danger for the character of FBI special agent Dana Scully.
For nine seasons, she and co-star David Duchovny captured the imaginations of TV viewers around the world.
"I still don't know just why it became such a huge success," Anderson says. "I think it was the perfect time for it politically. If it had started in the Bush administration well, I don't think we could have gotten away with a lot of what we did.
"At that point, the audiences needed something to grab onto that was artistic, yet entertaining, and took them to another degree of creative imagination. Something which also allowed there to be an element of doubt they were trying to resolve. 'The truth is out there' became more than a slogan. It was our mantra."
She credits Carter's sure hand for a lot of the show's success. "We came at the right time and Chris saw that we had the right mixture of ingredients. He also positioned us well. We started the whole idea of appointment television."
Anderson is reluctant to reveal too much about the new version, but she did confirm that Canadian actor-director William Davis has returned as "Cigarette Smoking Man" and that "the show has the same feel. That much hasn't changed."
The X-Files reboot is almost finished and Hannibal has been cancelled, but The Fall is still going strong. Anderson will begin shooting Season 3 of the British-Irish thriller later this year.
As Stella Gibson, detective superintendent in charge of tracking down a serial killer in Belfast, Anderson has done some of the deepest and most troubling work of her career.
"I knew this one was difficult but good from the start. On the very first day, I knew what we were getting was pretty cool. The only question was whether or not the audience would get it as well. But they seem to have and that's very gratifying.
"Stella Gibson is a very complicated character, and it's a huge pleasure and honour to spend time in her company. I actually find there's a kind of fog that settles over me when I'm playing her. It's strange, but somehow reassuring."
When The Fall is finished, she's off to New York, to recreate her triumphant but shattering stage performance as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. She's looking forward to the experience “even though it's incredibly draining."
"I've been playing so many troubled and troubling women in the past little while, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Human beings are complicated creatures. Why should we pretend they aren't?"