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Why Gillian Anderson Is TV's Reigning Queen, Balancing Three Series

By Scott Neumyer | http://www.scottwrites.com March 13, 2014 at 2:14PM

Gillian Anderson talks starring in the new NBC series "Crisis" while keeping her role in "Hannibal" and working on the acclaimed British drama "The Fall," and how the roles she's played -- including Dana Scully on "The X-Files" -- have shaped her personally.
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Gillian Anderson in 'Crisis'
NBC Gillian Anderson in 'Crisis'

The prevailing feeling one gets after watching the first two hours of NBC’s new series "Crisis," which premieres this Sunday, March 16 at 10pm, is that it’s incredibly tense. Starring Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney and Rachael Taylor, the show feels like it could easily be another crisis-of-the-week episodic thriller, but once you realize that "Crisis" is a serialized drama with a longer endgame, it begins to reveal its true potential and feels much more in line with the network's recent slate of dramas that include the critically acclaimed "Hannibal" (on which Anderson also appears as a recurring character). Indiewire sat down star Gillian Anderson to talk about the series premiere, working on three shows ("Crisis," "Hannibal" and the British "The Fall") nearly simultaneously, and the future of "The X-Files."

When you get such critical acclaim for consecutive shows, is there ever a worry about ruining the streak or the next one not being quite as good?

'Hannibal'
Brooke Palmer/NBC 'Hannibal'

My dip into "Hannibal" was initially meant to be a three-episode arc and in agreeing to go into the second season it was as much as I could do in terms of my schedule. In the end it'll end up being three or four episodes. Out of their run, and considering how few scenes I have, it’s not actually that much. So that hasn’t had much of an impact on the rest of my life as agreeing to do "Crisis." It doesn’t feel like I’m doing two American series necessarily.

Definitely the pilot episode, before it was called "Crisis" or any of the rest of the cast had been chosen, the script itself stood very strongly. It was just one of those things that I was compelled to read. My daughter, who is a teenager, couldn’t put it down, and that’s always a good sign. If that script had come across my plate a year prior, I might not have said yes to it.

How is your character Meg Fitch different from some of the other characters you’ve played before, and how is she similar?

I don’t think I’ve ever played an American businesswoman. Certainly nobody as powerful as Meg is. And she values her role as a parent so strongly. Stella [from "The Fall"] doesn’t have kids and, for all we know, Bedelia [from "Hannibal"] doesn’t. That’s not a part of their identity, whereas I would say that Meg would say that her choice to be a mother is a part of her. All those choices that we make inform us and who we are as people in the world. They also have different sensibilities and I hope different personalities as a result.

They’re all kind of looking for answers in a different way, even going back to Scully in "The X-Files."

I’m looking for answers! [laughs] Gillian is looking for answers. At least, I’m looking for answers and trying to find them in the females that I play.

'The X-Files'
Fox 'The X-Files'

How do you feel like you have changed, as a person and an actress, since you rose to stardom on "The X-Files"?

On the outside, anyway, I feel like I grew up in front of the camera on "The X-Files." It was formative and transformative years for me, and a very public way to grow up. I’m not sure whether I would necessarily choose that for me again, or choose that for anybody, but that’s what it was and I feel like Scully informed who I became and the kind of woman that I was turning into.

I also feel very strongly that the same thing is happening with Stella. In "The Fall," I feel like I’m a better woman when I’m working as Stella, when I’m filming. I feel like she’s had a really positive impact on myself and my femininity and my sense of myself as a woman. There is a transference there. I do believe that. Where Meg is concerned, I’m not quite sure yet. I don’t know what kind of personal impact she’s had, except that she identifies as a mother and exudes that and exudes professionalism. She’s like an alpha woman and that’s interesting to play. I don’t feel like I project that in my life. Other people may tell you differently, I don’t know. [laughs] I feel like I’ve taken as much as I’ve given as well.

She’s a very strong female.

Yeah, and it’s very uncomfortable when she’s not the one running the show. You’ll find that she’ll do everything in her power to be the one running the show.

Is it different for you, as an actor, working on a network show than it is working on something like The Fall which exists outside of that system?

'The Fall'
BBC Two 'The Fall'

It’s completely different, and I understand the difference -- the bottom line and the amount that the machine that the networks are and have had to become over here in the States. There’s so much stuff that they’re pumping out and there’s so much money that’s going into it with so much at stake. Everybody is trying to save their networks and I get that. I get why there’s so much input. With "The Fall," there’s no input. The producers, the writer, and the executive producer are all off doing their own thing. Obviously that’s going to have a different impact on everybody.

Is that freeing or does that feel like more responsibility?

To be honest, it feels like it’s the way that it should be. But you have to earn those stripes, and certainly when a show becomes more successful there’s less input, from what I’ve heard. It happened with "The X-Files," but after they realized that what everyone was doing was working and they had a formula that was effective, they were involved less in it. It’s a necessary part of the process.

It certainly seems like things are shifting in that way with shows like "House of Cards" on Netflix.

Yeah, I think so. I think it’s a necessary shift, but there’s still some stuff that needs to be worked out in the process. It’s new. It would be a completely different way of doing things.

Have you had any interesting run-ins with any of the Fannibals (as the "Hannibal" fandom calls itself) yet?

I did Comic Con in 2013 for the twentieth anniversary of "The X-Files," so that’s where I ran into the Fannibals. It’s all good. It’s people showering love onto something and that’s a good thing.

'Crisis'
NBC 'Crisis'

What is it about doing television that you love?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that. It’s what has presented itself to me. I’ve got two young kids and a teenager, so if a great script had come my way that was a film and I felt like I could still simultaneously be an active parent, then I would have done that. But what has come my way that would fit into my life in a way that I see my life and my presence in it was in the form of television. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It’s just what has transpired, and it’s been good to me. It’s felt like exactly the kind of balance that I would like to have in my life. I’ve very grateful for that.

There have been talks of another "X-Files" movie or some type of revival of the show for years now. Is there a chance that’s ever going to happen?

I think there is a good chance, actually. I think that there are enough people in the right places that are interested enough in it to make it manifest. When that transpires is the question mark, but I think it will.

But you’d be open to being involved in something like that?

Yeah, and I’ve always said that. I’ve never said anything other than that, and so has David [Duchovny] and so has Chris [Carter].

This article is related to: Television, TV Interviews, Interviews, Gillian Anderson, Crisis, NBC , The Fall, Hannibal, The X-Files





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