The Fall: Gillian Anderson on portraying an enigma

Sunday 12 May 2013, 15:00

Gillian Anderson Gillian Anderson Actress

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Gillian Anderson stars in BBC Two's new psychological crime thriller The Fall. As Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, she is brought in from the Metropolitan Police by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to review a stalled murder investigation.

What compelled you to take the role of DSI Stella Gibson?
She feels a little like an island but I find that interesting and it makes me want to know more, which is always a good thing where character and drama is concerned. 

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Asst Chief Constable Jim Burns (John Lynch) briefs Stella (Gillian Anderson) on arrival

Can you tell us a detail from the script where you felt a connection to Stella?
It's hard to say. I am intrigued by her no-nonsense way of being. And that over time we get to see warmth and what she cares about. She is an enigma.

What are the key factors behind Stella's professional decisions?
I think she is professional and driven and has a mind for this kind of work and knows that if she keeps at it she will crack it. I think on the whole she works from instinct but I think this case touches her much deeper and that's in part what is driving her. Her emotions have become engaged and that's unusual for her. She is thrown.

Are her personal decisions driven by different impulses? Such as when she introduces herself to the policeman...
Obviously this is one of the ways she compartmentalises for better or worse. She has found a way to justify this act in her mind. She is used to dominating her environment and here she goes again. I think we all have to compartmentalise, especially with all the versions of ourselves we are expected to perform with some self- and society-imposed perfection. We do it with aspects of our inner selves and with relationships between work and home and other.

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Hunter or hunted? Stella and Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan)

How do you portray this contrast?
It's compelling to see characters that have duality. Playing that is easy. It feels more natural for one, than a single dimensional character but also there's layers to build on and that's the joy and challenge of the work. Humans are more complex than our wildest imaginations. And then sometimes, oftentimes, we as individuals can't even explain why we do the things we do. We take stabs at it, we hypothesise and justify, but then years later we may realise it was all down to a forgotten event in childhood. So any fabricated history for a character can also have that same complexity – the character might even think it's one thing but it can be something laying much deeper.

Do you think there are any aspects of her character that she shares with Paul Spector?
Yes but I think I need to let that unravel on screen.

Gillian Anderson plays DSI Stella Gibson in The Fall.

The Fall starts at 9pm on Monday, 13 May on BBC Two and BBC Two HD. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    What am Amazing show to-night. Can't wait till next week. Oh and I am in next weeks series.!!!!

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    Comment number 2.

    PLEASE air The Fall in the USA. I love Gillian Anderson and would love to see this show. I have BBCAmerica. Im sure there are alot more people here in the USA that would love to see the show. Thanks. :)

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    Comment number 3.

    Three things. Anderson's British accent is very inconsistent; she should work on that. And a women in the job as Detective Superintendent would not give that detective she'd just driven past and met for the first time her hotel #. Lastly, this show is glorifying violence against women by making it sexy, something the BBC seems really keen on doing in many of it's dramas, a la Ripper Street. Not cool, BBC. No cool at all.

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    Comment number 4.

    This was the most boring hour I,ve wasted in months. Bad lighting,no dialogue,was there any professional crew or was this made by queens students????
    What an insult to Belfast

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    Comment number 5.

    I have never complained about music in a programme before, but can somene please switch off the droning synthesizer noise. I don't normally get headaches but it gave me one, my son who has special needs couldn't cope with the incessant long notes. We were really looking forward to it and expected it to be a slow build which it was. I never get too pedantic about actors trying out an accent or unusual lighting or sets etc, but please please do something about the noise!

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    Comment number 6.

    Does nobody in Northern Ireland turn their house lights on? SO dark (literally)and SO slow. Fine acting , bad directing.

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    Comment number 7.

    Regarding the comments about "music/sound-effects/noise and lighting" - It is music, noise and lighting that add to the atmoshere and evoke and stimulate our primitive /instinctive responses and reactions - be it fear, alarm, fight or flight. It is precisely for this reason that this type of programme is put out ofter the 9pm "watershed" and that there are usually warnings about flashing/strobe-lighting, violence or sexual/adult content. Having worked for over 40 years with children/young-people and adults, both with and without "special-education/physical/mental/emotional-needs" and Autism, plus having children (and myself) with "acute-and sensitive" hearing, I know how painful some sounds can be. The answer could be to switch off/adjust the t.v. controls. Also, without meaning to be offensive, maybe some programmes are unsuitable or age-inappropriate for some "persons" who may possibly be "emotionally" immature. The content of this type of programme will obviously upset anyone who has been affected by violence/agression/house-break-ins or sexual abuse - again, there are warnings given before hand; so if you choose to watch - make sure that it is suitable for those other family members who share the sofa with you!

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    Comment number 8.

    I love Gillian Anderson and am very much looking forward to seeing how this series pans out. I found the first episode a bit lumpy aside from Paul Spector's superbly understated performance which was unnerving to say the least. The final scene where he fulfilled his compulsions was very uncomfortable to watch and I have high hopes for further discomfort combined with a glimmer of hope that Stella will come to life and prove why she was called in to close the case. Episode 1 of anything is by far the hardest challenge but I'm a huge fan of the BBC 4 Saturday Night Scandinavian crime drama zone and I would love the BBC to come back with a really fresh, intelligent and uncomfortable viewing challenge to the Swedes and Danes who have got this off to a fine art. I'm loving Arne Dahl by the way.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I am continually amazed by the high standard of acting Gillian Anderson continues to bring to the screen. Her performance this time as DSI Stella Gibson is yet again another amazing performance . From the very start of "The Fall" I could not take my eyes off the screen. I just can't wait for the next episode. Bravo again Gillian!!!

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    Comment number 11.

    Superb start and Thank Goodness Gillian Anderson is putting on one of her appalling Norn Irn accents.

    BTW, when did a 'wardrobe' in NI become 'a bedroom closet' . Bending to American audience. Ugh.

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    Comment number 12.

    On the positive side I thought that the acting & casting were good. Also it was good to have a serial set in Belfast which was not to do with the Troubles (although I am not too sure that one about a misogynistic, murdering psychopath is exactly a step up!). What I did not like though was that in most murder mysteries you do not tend to get to know the victim. Whereas on this one you did get to know the next apparent victim-to-be and she appeared to be a nice person, who had never done anyone any harm, just going about her lawful business (no pun intended). So I did not like that last bit. I just hope that at the end they do not try and show him in any kind of sympathetic light.

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    Comment number 13.

    Good to see Ms Anderson again - well done and welcome over to this side of the pond once more!
    Interesting range of comments above, and funny how different people notice all sorts (I've just finished watching first episode and cannot even recall the 'droning synthesizer' noise, shows my observance!)...
    Thought that I'd be a geek to straighten one thing out though Pache - I'm not a stalker or owt, but being a bit of a Radio 4 junkie, I've happened to hear Gillian Anderson on Desert Island DIscs and was astounded to hear her accent there:

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    Comment number 14.

    @ pache
    Calm Down Dear

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    Comment number 15.

    I’m pretty much long on everything these days. I think you have to be if you’re an individual in this market. Graham Copsey

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    Comment number 16.

    To those who have complaints about Gillian Anderson's British accent, they should know that she grew up in London.

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    Comment number 17.

    Several programmes (Scott & Bailey, The Fall, etc) have a police officer called "DSI". Can someone tell me what rank it is?

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    Comment number 18.

    I turned off the show despite the good acting since it seems to be one more show about violently murdering there no other plot line out there? Please come up with a good detective show that doesn't include sexual, violent killings of women.

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    Comment number 19.

    Just watched episode 2, the plot is building nicely. Gillian Anderson as usual presents a mysterious yet interiguing character. On a par with broadchurch for suspense and how the police solve the case. Can't wait for episode 3!

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    Comment number 20.

    I have such mixed feelings about this series. It is joining a line of good drama on several channels this year, it seems to be trying to imitate the Scandinavian drama series (and IMO failing), however it's building up the character profiles nicely, if rather slowly. I am thoroughly hooked on it, though feel there surely must be other plot lines than violence against women.


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