— Nerding out

Nerding Out with Gillian Anderson: On ‘Hannibal,' ‘The X-Files' and Sci-Fi IRL

Welcome to “Nerding Out,” a new interview series where we get down and nerdy with famous females we admire—deep-diving into their fandom universe, brainy side projects, and existential observations. For our first interview in the series, we were outrageously excited to get the one-and-only Gillian Anderson on the horn. Hannibal‘s Bedelia du Maurier aka Special Agent Scully spoke with us from Vancouver just as she was about to start shooting the upcoming reboot of the X-Files. I know, we’re freaking out too. So, let’s just cut right to the chase.

Even if it can skew disturbing, Hannibal (which just kicked off a new season) has such a beautiful aesthetic as a show. I was struck by one part in the season premiere, of you sinking into the water of the bathtub. 

Well, you know, often, there’s a big discrepancy between an audience’s experience of an aesthetic moment and what is actually transpiring on the day when you’re filming it. Because  in order to get an aesthetic moment, the actor or performer, whoever it is, by the nature of creating the moment, is having to subject themselves to things that are not necessarily that comfortable and certainly in no ways aesthetic in the moment. When you’re doing take after take half-naked around like, a crew, immersing yourself in water, the actual real experience of it does not resemble the aesthetic nature of it at all.

What were your favorite shots to film in the show?

Usually the fun stuff has less to do with action or beauty and more to do with interaction between characters. And so most fun stuff to do on Hannibal, for instance, are some of the crazy scenes I get to do with Mads [Mikkelson, who plays Hannibal] and other characters.

There’s a scene in the first episode where we have a guest for dinner, and I’m eating oysters and they’re eating…somebody…and that exchange between the three of us was a very fun scene to do. It was funny. It was fun to play with pushing the boundaries of the relationship.

A lot of your roles  and the shows you’ve been on deal with darkness, or characters who are drawn towards darkness. Does the material have an impact on your life? Can you relate to that darkness or feel like you need to move away from it?

I’ve never been – knock wood – affected by the dark stuff I work on. Though, on the whole, there’s a lot of Hannibal I can’t watch. If I was watching it, I would have to fast forward to stuff that isn’t as gory as it can get on Hannibal. That’s when it would affect me, in the watching after the fact. In the doing of it — until this season, my character hasn’t been involved in the gory stuff. And what little I was involved in this season was tame enough that it didn’t give me nightmares.

What sort of stuff do you watch? What books are you reading?

I watch a lot of independent stuff, I watch foreign films. What I’ve seen recently is one of my favorites, an Argentinian film called Wild Tales, that is executive produced by [Pedro] Almodovar and extraordinarily directed. And extremely funny and thrilling and very, very, very good. And I usually have five books going at one time, but I’ve been writing lately so I can’t really remember what they are.

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