New Interview
Posted at 9:05 AM (PDT) on Monday, August 22, 2005

Gillian goes to Andersonstown
The Irish Times
August 20, 2005

Gillian Anderson has just made a film in Belfast, playing an IRA widow. And her accent isn't half bad. But then a life on the move has left the 'X Files' star with a habit of changing her voice to fit in, she tells Donald Clarke.

There is, arguably, no more effective way of making American actors look ridiculous than asking them to attempt a Northern Irish accent. Reputation or experience count for little when confronted with vowel sounds a Californian could more easily reproduce by reversing a tractor over a goose. Fans of Gillian Anderson, the diminutive, buttoned down actress who set nerdish hearts aflutter in The X Files, might, therefore, be forgiven for approaching The Mighty Celt with trepidation. ...Against the odds, Anderson does a very good job. Some of the rounder sounds are a little forced, but for most of the film you would be hard pressed to identify her as an outsider.

"The production hired a terrific dialogue coach," she says. "So while I was still doing a play in London" - The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, at the Royal Court - "I would rehearse several hours a day. Then there was an excellent guy on set who would listen carefully. But, yeah, it is the hardest accent to do. You use so much of the range of your mouth. So little of it resembles anything else in any other dialect."

"I think I do have an ear for accents. I think I do find them easier to pick up. But it is, also, a little frustrating. I can be sitting before somebody from Australia or New Zealand, and, before I know it, I am slipping into the rhythms of their speech. It is a bit embarrassing. I could get a phone call right now from the States, and once the American voice hits my ear I will turn American."

The Mighty Celt is a sensitive, moving piece of work, which profits from consistently strong performances. But how on earth did she find herself doing it? Made on a minuscule budget, the film is not an obvious choice for somebody in her position. "I have a very good agent who knows what I like," she says. "I thought it was a really moving script. It was very, very sweet. I just loved the relationship between Tyrone and his mother. There was a real loving fondness there that I hadn't played before."

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