TimeOut London: Q&A with Gillian Anderson
April 24, 2007
The 'X-Files' star talks about her role in violent revenge thriller 'Straightheads'.
Gillian Anderson made her name as one half of conspiracy-busting duo Mulder and Scully in phenomenally successful sci-fi show 'The X-Files'. Since then she has divided her time between TV and film, and this week she can be seen in 'Straightheads', a dark thriller about the affect that a violent attack has on a seemingly normal couple. Chris Tilly spoke to her on the set of the film.
'Straightheads' seems to be quite unlike anything you've tackled before, so what attracted you to the project?
I think what interested me at first is the characters. There's something about the script that's quite different and mysterious and disturbing, but also the character, Alice, is very different to the parts I've played before.
Can you tell us a little bit about Alice?
She's quite tough. She comes from a challenging childhood. She grew up in the country, her mother died when she was quite young and then she left her father when she was about 16 and went off on her own, so she's had to make it on her own for a long time and therefore her way of relating in the world is a bit disjointed and unpredictable. She's comfortable in her own skin, but I think she's a bit of a chameleon and my intention with it, whether it comes off or not, is to have her be like mercury, like she's slipping through your fingers until this major event in the film takes place. And in an odd way it kind of grounds her – from that point on she can't really think about much else other than her new intentions.
Do you recognise any strains of your own personality in Alice?
I think I'm attracted to a role when it makes sense to me and there's some kind of identification. Sometimes I read a script and there's no way in, but there's an aspect of me which is quite similar to Alice and the director is interested in me putting more of myself into this character than I'm used to, which is strangely terrifying. So there are a lot of aspects of her which I'm meant to have – she's quite tough and strident and cheeky, but she doesn't deliberately try to be provocative. The film is very much in two parts – pre-rape and post-rape – at the beginning she's very cocky and sure of herself and I certainly put that across, whether I am or not. I behave in my life as if I know what I'm doing even though half the time I don't have a f****** clue!
What's your relationship with Danny Dyer like in the film?
I haven't seen anything, I don't watch dailies, but it was very clear from the minute we did readings with various actors to try and find somebody that there was chemistry and the minute he walked in the room it was obvious that he was perfect for this role. He's also incredibly cheeky in all aspects of himself, and that just worked perfectly for the character. We had instantaneous chemistry together and hopefully that comes across, but you can never really tell. Those readings were taped and clearly the producers and director feel like it was there as well. We haven't gotten into the down and dirty sex scenes yet. We're shooting those tomorrow so you should ask me about Danny after that!
Can you see yourself continuing to do low-budget British film like this?
Yes, I think I will, but all of a sudden I find myself on yet another film where we constantly have to cut scenes and hurry up and shoot something before the light goes and knowing if it does go the scene gets thrown rather than picked up later because we don't have the budget. So there is part of me that says never again, but then again it's the kind of low-budget British film that I love watching, so I don't think I'll stop.
Are you happy with where your career is heading at the moment?
I think I'm in a very fortunate position, at least for a while longer, where I can pick and choose what I want to do, and I can say no to bigger-budget badly written films, and say yes to better written smaller films, and that's not going to last forever. There is going to be a point where I'm going to have to do something where I actually get paid and hopefully it'll be something with some value to it, but I just really follow what appeals to me, and the script is everything. A good script with a bad director is a nightmare as well, but it really does start with the script.