Globe and Mail Excerpts
Posted at 2:31 PM (PST) on Saturday, January 21, 2006
Pasadena, CA -- Gillian Anderson is simply lying there, on a couch, waiting to be interviewed. She greets me with a wan but welcoming smile. "Just sit down," she says. "We don't have much time, but ask away."
Anderson says. "I'd read Dickens, but not this novel. I'd read several of his great novels, though I think it's different if you read them when you're young. You appreciate the storytelling, the stand-out characters, but you don't appreciate his ability as a writer, the depth of his humanity. He writes about everything, the rich, the poor, the prisons, the law courts, the country houses, the orphans and the families. I was captivated."
"I think there is a general understanding of what it was like back then for women. All women today can identify with that. It's not so different from what their mothers faced. It's about pain. That's Lady Dedlock's situation. Everybody can grasp that. Anyone who goes through a divorce, or loses a child, knows about the pain, and that's her pain. Dickens dissects human nature and human nature is timeless."
Based in London since 2003, she's done several demanding and acclaimed theatre roles there and appeared in a number of small movies made in Britain and Ireland. Some have never even been released in the United States or Canada. Still, she's been off the showbiz radar. Anderson says she's enjoying it all and is absolutely at peace with her life and career.
"I don't get paid very much for the work I do, by some standards. I'm in a luxurious position that I did a series for nine years. I don't have to worry about a roof over my head. And I can make these kinds of choices. It's less to do with [expletive] you to the industry and more to do with me following my path."
As our interview winds down, Anderson is still supine under her shawl. A PBS representative quietly reminds us there's only a few minutes left. Anderson is clearly exhausted and seems about to collapse further on the couch, just as Lady Dedlock swoons several times in Bleak House. Me, I think of a way of perking her up. All actors like to be praised, to have their good work noticed. I tell her I've seen a small Irish movie she made, called The Mighty Celt. In it, she plays an IRA widow raising a young boy in the immediate aftermath of the end of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. It's a sweet but very sophisticated movie about recovering from the trauma of violence and war. I tell her, truthfully, that she did an exceptional job with the difficult Northern Ireland accent.
She perks up immediately. She's no longer flat-out on the couch. She's sitting up, eager to talk about that little movie she knows is good. She thinks it unlikely that anybody in the U.S. or Canada will see it because of the regional accents. She asks me to do anything I can to pass the word that it's good and maybe get it released in Canada and the U.S. I promise to do it, but tell her I'm not that powerful. (It recently aired on the Sundance Channel.)
"Oh, just talk about it," she says. "Like you talked to me about it. And Bleak House too. Thank you!" And there's nothing wan about her smile as she says goodbye. She's happy now.