QUORA: Questions & Answers Session
January 11, 2016
How was it working with David Duchovny again?
Well David is David, so as you know, he's funny and irreverent and we have a laugh. We laugh about the olden days and about how different it is to do the series as old people. He has a better memory than me so the conversation is usually him being reminded of something we did and me saying, "Really? That happened? In which of the 20,000 episodes?" We definitely stayed closer to set this time round than we used to. I mean, our trailers were where our life happened back in the day! I had a child in mine for one! These days though, after a scene finished, you'd actually find us chatting to our costars from time to time, like Joel Mchale who won't shut up about anything but mostly current events (just kidding-ish), or Kumail Nanjiani who also won't shut up but mostly about The X-Files. Anyway, it's good entertainment. ;)
What is it like to make a television drama for the BBC vs. say American networks?
Working for an American network, the stakes are pretty high especially these days with studios trying to figure out not only how to keep audiences coming back but also to track when and how within the changing formats. The pressure is not so great in the UK. You aren't really working for a studio and the production companies are smaller so one tends to have a more personal relationship with the people running the show. In the states, its a bigger machine and more red tape and sometimes the the fact that human beings are involved can get lost in the mix. Definitely less user-friendly. But both sides of the pond have their perks. And I'm just grateful to get to flip flop at all!
How do you decide which charities to be involved with?
The ones that have either a personal connection or because they break my heart. Ones whose mission are to help people in situations that make me unbearably sad to even imagine, let alone have to ever endure. For instance, the thought of children being trafficked for sex or used as slave labourer makes me so unbelievably sad and mad. The fact that it exists and is allowed to happen under our noses and is even in some countries sanctioned is beyond comprehensible. The fact that billions of dollars of global money is made forcing other human beings, including children, to do things not only against their will but also under appalling and often brutal conditions is hard to think about but indeed a reality for up to 20 million humans on this planet. The facts and reality of modern day slavery are becoming better documented. Organizations like Free The Slaves and Childreach International are doing great and effective work, but the real work needs to happen on a bigger scale with governments and big businesses who refuse to trade in goods that have used slave labour or by naming and shaming the business that turn a blind eye. It's also imperative that local government and law enforcement put the eradication of sex trafficking at the top of their agendas, including creating effective trauma counselling for girls and boys who have been “freed.” I'm not talking about women who chose to make a living through sex. I'm talking about teenagers kidnapped and sold as sex slaves in Washington DC. It's not a joke. Glad you asked? Actually you didn't but clearly this is an issue that breaks my heart.
What are some of the challenges facing women in Hollywood, and has anything changed over the past year?
There has been a lot of great conversation this past year and I'm sure that people are sitting up and listening due to the high profile of those that are speaking up. Will it make a difference? Will more films directed by and starring women get made? Will women naturally be paid equally for equal work without having to make an issue if it? Will we be able to continue to speak openly about what's not fair or not working for us without being told to stop whining or shamed into silence? Only time will tell. Women as we know are great at creating and at getting on with the work at hand. Hopefully this open discussion will inspire women in all fields to continue to build platforms for ourselves to get on with what we do best.
You keep saying you grew more with Stella, than any other character. What is it about her that held you in a different way?
A couple of things. I think because I like her so much and yet she's a little strange. She's cold and warm and unpredictable. A bit of a lone wolf. I think she gave me permission to embrace those aspects of myself that I previously might have judged. She is very comfortable with her sensual self and I think I started to embrace my femininity more while playing her. I realized that even though I have a tendency to behave more like “one of the guys," that can coexist with a nice pair of knickers. I'm kind of kidding. But of course it's true.
Was it difficult to separate and create different personas for Stella G. and Scully since they are both in the police field?
Scully and Stella are entirely different people on the page. They carry themselves differently, respond to situations differently. It's pretty easy in a broad sense to keep them separate in my head. Where it gets challenging is in the listening. How does Scully's listening differ from Stella's listening? I guess we'll soon find out if there is a difference at all or if it's just in my head!
How has social media affected the professional and personal lives of successful actors like yourself?
Well I guess on the one hand it means we can't get away with anything in public anymore! It also means there's greater outreach to fans, which can only be positive given its the fans who dictate ultimately whether we are hirable or not! I don't tend to share personal photos (I'm not on Instagram, so I haven't really taken a serious leap into that world). I did start tweeting more when we began filming the new X-Files series. Fans old and new showed their appreciation for those tidbits of insider information. I get that. And I get the desire to be included in something outside of one's own experience. But I'm still not ready to share pictures of my porridge, children, or buttocks.
Was the experience of shooting Hannibal different from other TV shows?
Well, it was different for me initially because I would fly to Toronto from London where I live and shoot a couple episodes worth of work in just two days. I wasn't skinning people alive, which takes delicate time to film. At the beginning anyway, it was just Hannibal and Bedelia sitting across from each other engrossed in cryptic psycho-chit chat, so we'd cover a lot of ground in a small amount of time. The atmosphere was always dark, which I'm used to, and directors like David Spade would make their mark with exotic camera angles. Other than the exquisite sets and the fact that I was sitting across from the equally exquisite Mads Mikkelsen, a set is a set is a set.
What aspect of the new season are you most excited for fans to see and why?
I'm most excited that we are giving the fans a mix of what they grew to expect and rely on in the original series. There's your typical monster of the week thanks to Glen Morgan and James Wong, there's your mythology by way of Chris Carter and then there's comedy a la Darin Morgan. It's a hilarious premise and we had some funny co-stars and we get to be funny, which no one every asks me to be! So I enjoy it when I get the opportunity.
How do you stay motivated as an actor who has already had so much success?
Well...The material keeps me motivated. Getting to work with talented people keeps me motivated. It's the only thing I know how to do to keep a roof over mine and my kids' heads. That's a pretty basic and universal motivation!
What project (professional or non-professional) outside of acting do you enjoy working on the most?
I really enjoy architecture and interior design. I wouldn't want to do it for a living or really even create a space for anyone but myself, but I do tend to get a bit obsessed with floor plans and well, houses. We generally move every five years. I get bored or I see a house that I can't not take on as a project and I work on it for a year and then I sell the one we are in and either break even or (woo hoo!) make a bit of a profit and we move. I am a very visual person and I've realized over the years it has just become one of the ways I express myself. After we move and it's been the predictable nightmare of extended deadlines and costs, I say "never again!" And then four or five years later, I fall in love again. Friends and family have come to accept that this is simply something I do.
What are the challenges of performing the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire?
Oh boy. Well....There are the obvious ones, which are the amount of time Blanche is on stage (including in our production when she was in the shower!) and there's the fact that the play can run close to three hours. Oh, and how about the detail of her slow spiral into what may or may not be insanity? BUT it's a fabulous challenge to have and I am so excited that we get to do it again. The other day I did a fitting of Blanche's clothes from our show and aside from being a little tight post Christmas(!) I couldn't believe how run down some of them were. There's a lot of broken stuff and food remnants that end up on our revolving stage so by the time Blanche puts on her pink ball gown she's mopping up the beer and mashed potatoes with it! Does that make you want to see it more or less!!??
Whose work inspired you most?
Anyone who puts their lives at risk to speak out about an injustice. It's one thing for someone like me to sit at my laptop or in this case, on my phone on a plane, answering questions and voicing opinions about this or that, but it's an entirely different universe for someone like Malala Yousafzai to stand up publicly and speak out about equality in education for girls and women in her country where women have at times been banned from getting an education. That is a courage I question if I even possess. There are many women and men around the world who risk their lives on a daily basis to get people of influence to pay attention. That is work that transcends my experience and I am in awe.
Out of all the actors you have starred with, who have you been most in awe of?
Ben Kingsley I'd have to say. It's just extraordinary how he immerses himself into a role. He is extremely specific about dialect and region and history and fully trains himself up for a role. I felt terribly lazy alongside his expertise.