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.!!!!

  • rate this

    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. :)

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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

  • rate this

    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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