‘I don’t look good in a silk shirt unless I’m wearing a silk shirt for Stella Gibson’ - Gillian Anderson on her Fall and rise
- Credit: PA
From Scully to Stella, The Fall and rise of Gillian Anderson has been an impressive journey to witness. We caught up with Ms Anderson to talk about reprising the role of ice maiden Stella Gibson in the new series of The Fall on BBC2.
How would you describe The Fall?
The premise of The Fall is that you see a serial killer at work, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). I play DSI Gibson from the Met police who comes to Belfast to look into cases of murdered women. In the first instance it seems two of the murders are linked, then it becomes clear that it is a serial killer. From that point on they are on the hunt for Paul Spector.
How would you describe Stella?
She's very focused, particularly intelligent. She's described as cold and she keeps herself to herself and is not interested in work politics, but she tells it like it is. She expects the same of others and expects the team around her to work hard and when they do she warms up a bit.
What I like most about her is how unique she is, different from anything I've read or seen before. I find her elusive and mysterious. Often my enthusiasm about working on a series is to find out more about her from Allan, as well as getting an opportunity to play her again. We're not very similar in many ways, she has a lot of attributes I aspire to, but it's fun to get to play those and to live in the skin of somebody who is so smart and forthright and peculiar.
What attracted you to The Fall?
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How good the writing was - Allan is a talented writer. I don't know how he manages to infuse so much of each character within the scene and the dialogue without description; it comes out in their personalities and their actions which is a hard thing for writers to do. He just intrinsically knows how to do that so the characters are unique and individual. That was it first and foremost. As an actor, anytime you are told something was written with you in mind it adds to your ego, but also to the enticement of it. It makes you prick up your ears.
Describe Gibson's relationship with Spector.
The Gibson/Spector relationship is strange. They have an equal obsession for each other. It's very much a cat and mouse dynamic. They confound each other, frustrate each other, and infuriate each other. One of them is always slightly on top and I think that is the nature of their relationship at any given time. They've both caught each other out, surprised each other with their tactics and that psychological interaction is titillating for them at the same time. Stella has been violated by him a couple of times and she's not used to people having that power over her. She's used to being the smartest one in the room and she can hold herself in any situation. So to be tripped up, caught out and exposed is a huge knock for her.
Did you have any favourite moments on set?
There are a lot of favourite moments. It was nice to work with Richard Coyle, I'm a fan of his work and he's a great actor. The task force that we have and all the actors and actresses that are part of that team are really wonderful people and a wonderful support, which makes doing pages and pages of dialogue less stressful, because they're so lovely and accommodating of my mistakes. But mainly just getting an opportunity to play Stella again.
How has it been working with Jamie over the three series?
Stella and Spector don't really work opposite each other at all until the end of the second series so Jamie and I barely saw each other until that point. There's been a tiny bit more interaction this series. It's been interesting to watch Jamie's growth as an actor, and it may not even be growth, it may be what was there all along. He's just very good so that's really enjoyable to watch.
What makes The Fall unique?
Allan is very good at writing unpredictably. No matter how many conversations we might have prior to the series about what might or might not happen, what ends up on the page is so much more interesting, unlikely, unsettling and out of left field than pretty much anything I could have come up with.
What's it like filming in Belfast?
Belfast is a wonderful city and I generally don't get to see any of it! My life is back and forth between mostly interior locations and my hotel room. But I really appreciate being there. From an outsider's perspective it feels very much like a like a neighbourhood. Everybody seems to know everybody else and with the intensity of the history there are sub-levels that are fascinating.
Stella's become a bit of a fashion icon…
Can I tell you something? I don't look good in a silk shirt unless I'm wearing a silk shirt for Stella Gibson. I never buy them because I look nothing like she does in silk shirts! There's something about the mixture of the whole get-up and her hair and make-up but I'm really sloppy and it just never works for me. So I too would like to be able to wear a silk shirt like Stella Gibson, but it's impossible basically.
• The Fall continues on BBC2 at 9pm on Thursdays.