Since her breakthrough role in long-running sci-fi drama The X-Files in the ’90s, GILLIAN ANDERSON has captivated audiences of both screen and stage – most recently stepping into the shoes of Margaret Thatcher in The Crown. HANNA FLINT meets the actor to talk about the invaluable lessons of 2020, self-growth and why this lady is for turning.
It’s a sunny autumn afternoon in London’s Hyde Park and Gillian Anderson is doing a spot of birdwatching. We’re really here to discuss her latest role in The Crown’s season four, of course, in which she plays the formidable first British female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. But, every so often, the British-American actor becomes mesmerized by the creatures in the Serpentine lake. “Look at what that swan’s doing with its feathers!” she exclaims. “Sorry, but look at what the brown one is doing – it’s making a heart shape.”
Anderson is admittedly no student of ornithology – there’s a struggle to remember the names of some of the birds on view – but she did have a childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist. Now, the idea of even playing one would be a nightmare. “I wouldn’t want to get wet is the truth of the matter,” she says. “It’s definitely got to the point now where there are things I would refuse to do. A friend of mine was potentially going to be in the movie Everest, but I remember thinking at the time, ‘Oh God, imagine what that would entail!’ I’m just not that person.”
So, what kind of person is Anderson? As a much-celebrated actor, she has won several awards for playing Agent Dana Scully in the popular sci-fi series The X-Files, and earned further acclaim in The Fall as detective superintendent Stella Gibson, and then more recently in Sex Education as glamorous sex therapist Jean Milburn.
She’s a proud Londoner, too, having lived in the capital for most of her adult life. And she’s evidently an animal lover, given how many times the conversation has been interjected by a diving cormorant or a swimming Labrador. Privacy is very important to her, and she prefers to keep her family life to herself – although she isn’t afraid to share some funny personal truths. For instance, she turned down an offer to launch her own Sex Education-inspired sex-toy line: “I can’t remember why I said no.” And there was the time, many years ago, when she pitched a video-sharing idea to a woman who helped set up Google and Facebook. It turned out the idea already existed and was about to be launched as YouTube. “That was the last time I shared any bright ideas about tech,” the actor chuckles.
In the cold light of day, Anderson, who is 52 years old and currently makeup-free, looks as radiant as she’s ever been seen on screen during the past 30 years. Anderson cares about her looks (she points out that she had her roots done that morning, ready for some impending filmed press engagements), but is somewhat self-deprecating about how she’s managed to find a loophole in the aging process. “I’ve heard from my mum, my whole life, that my great-grandma Rose had really good skin, but I often fall asleep in my makeup, and whenever I do a photo shoot, everybody always points out that my skin is really dry.”
While the actor is modest about her appearance, she’s confident about the roles she wants to play and, really, who can blame her? “It’s different now than even 10 or 15 years ago,” she says. “[Then] a woman my age, at least in television, would be struggling to find something, but now there seems to be a plethora of rich roles.” With characters like A Streetcar Named Desire’s Blanche DuBois, Margo Channing of All About Eve and now Margaret Thatcher under her belt, she confesses, “It’s hard not to get a little picky.”
There was a moment, making the fourth series of The Crown, when Gillian Anderson was in full costume as Margaret Thatcher and her partner, the series writer Peter Morgan, came to see her on set. “I smiled at him, as me, Gillian, smiling at her boyfriend, and he said, ‘This is Thatcher! This smile is Thatcher!’” Anderson recalls, laughing. “And I’m like, no! This smile is me!”
Watching the show, you can understand the confusion. In the role, Anderson performs one of those metamorphoses where though she is entirely visible as herself beneath that great cloud of hair, she is also utterly transformed. For a while, the creative team had toyed with the idea of her wearing prosthetic teeth to capture the distinct shape of Thatcher’s mouth, but Anderson found them too cumbersome.
She wore a padded suit beneath her clothes to bulk up her frame a little, but otherwise there were no particular physical changes beyond what she was able to do as an actor: the grand, almost hoarse voice, the tilting walk, the smile that is genial but edged with intent. The important thing, says Anderson now, sitting in a Hyde Park café, “was not doing it so much that it ended up a parody.”
There’s nothing parodic about the finished product, released on Netflix this month. Instead, there is the weird sensation of finding yourself sympathising with one of the most controversial prime ministers the UK has ever had, who always seemed monumental and invulnerable until her final ousting from Downing Street.
As the episodes unfold, you watch Thatcher running up against the snobbish judgement of the Royal Family, the patronising disdain of some of her Cabinet members. “I had to get to a point where it’s nothing to do with my opinions of her policies, of her actions,” says Anderson. “It is only about her as a human being and her motivation as a politician and as a mother.”
At times, she says she found herself questioning the portrayal – why wasn’t there more on the poll tax or Northern Ireland? But she was given no special treatment as the writer’s partner to shape her character. “For our own sanity, and actually for the benefit of the relationship, we had very clear boundaries,” she says. “I am not going to comment on the script, but you are not allowed to comment on the performance!”
We chat to acclaimed actor and activist Gillian Anderson on philanthropy, style and her sophomore collection for Winser London.
Here, Gillian Anderson talks about her work with Women for Women International, how she likes to spend her downtime and collaborating with Winser London on her hotly anticipated second collection.
What was the inspiration behind your second collection?
The primary inspiration was that I had so much fun with the first collection that I knew I wanted to do it again. Rather than reinventing the wheel we decided to put out a couple of different colours in the same cuts of two successful styles and even used the cut of the Boyfriend Jumper for the lips range. Then the question was, if we only do one dress – what is a style that can cross seasons and feel dressy and yet equally casual with a pair of boots and a funky coat? If we only do one blouse, what style is both the antithesis of last season’s Silk Blouse and also matches the personality of the dress? And if I’m to do a trouser, given last season was a Tuxedo Cigarette Pant why not try and create what I wear day in and out through the winter, Mini Bootleg Black Low-Rise Stretch Jeans.
What are your favourite pieces from the new collection, and why?
Oh that’s hard! I do love the Lips sweaters, not least because a percentage of proceeds is being donated to one of my favourite charities for women but also because the quality of the image worked and kept its personality even on a cashmere blend, which is a challenging expectation. The hooded coats are definitely a favourite because they are so versatile and fun.
How would you describe your personal style?
Eek, I’d say simple. I think? On a day-to-day basis I don’t put a lot of effort into what I wear and dress for practicality (with heels though) but if I’m dressing up I do like clean, classic lines and am not likely to go for a pattern – as much as I like patterns they just don’t work on me.
Who inspires you in work, life and style?
Probably my friend Gabriela Hearst. She has an incredible personal style which is reflected in how she dresses. She works so hard on her clothing line and fabrics and manages to balance it effectively with kids and husband and friends and meditation. She’s a force to be reckoned with. If she is a racehorse, I am a miniature pony.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
Do your very best and let go of the results. That means to show up prepared and committed and positive and present and leave the results to the powers that be. As long as you know you have done your best, nothing else matters. Great if whatever it is works out, and if it doesn’t at least you know you did your best and it simply wasn’t meant for you at this time. Difficult to do in practice at first and easy to get into self-criticism and blame and resentment, but once you get used to truly letting go, it can be one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself.
Tell us more about your work with Women for Women International and how they’re spotlighted in your new collection?
Jennifer Nadel who I co-wrote WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere with first brought them to my attention and we encouraged readers of the book to make donations to this wonderful organisation. Since then I have tried to help raise awareness and funds.
Women for Women International helps women in post conflict zones get back on their feet. It teaches them about their rights, teaches them a trade so they can become self-sufficient, teaches them about personal hygiene and how to take care of themselves and encourages them to be active in their communities. They really honour the women they work with and stay in contact with them for years afterwards – personally visiting the women on the ground on a regular basis and making sure the programs are running effectively. It’s just a wonderful organization.
One of the fundraising projects I did was to partner with RedBubble to make a T-shirt with an image of my lips that had been presented to me by a fan. Other fans started buying the t-shirts knowing all our RedBubble profits were going to Women for Women. I then decided to take it one step further in this Winser London collection with a cashmere blend sweater where the image was worked into the weave in three great colours.
Finally, what do you like to do to relax?
Watch documentaries. Heaven.
Source: Winser London
Gillian Anderson is a woman of many duelling qualities, and it is hard to know quite what to expect when meeting her. Her old interviews are displays of either surprising candour or frosty reserve. She can be earnest and thoughtful, sometimes to the point of seeming grave, yet she peppers her social media with “penis/yoni of the day” posts, pictures of things that happen to look like genitals, even when they are not. She speaks with an American accent when with Americans, and with a crisp British accent with Brits, though she retains a US sheen on only one word that I clocked: “process”. She is extremely famous and has been for more than half her life, yet has maintained a sense of mystery and intrigue, and is keenly private.
Naturally, then, in a photographic studio in a tiny back street in north London, talk has turned to tattoos of Anderson’s face on strangers’ buttocks. It started with one of her own cashmere jumpers, part of her new capsule collection for the London brand Winser (she turned designer for them in 2018, adding another string to an already creaking bow that includes activist and author, as well as actor) that features a familiar-looking mouth emblazoned across the chest, accented by that Monroe-esque beauty spot.
“It is a strange thing, yes,” she agrees, adding that of all the pieces, she probably won’t make a habit of wearing the one with her own face on it. It’s an impish design, but this being Anderson, there’s more to it than a bit of self-reflective fun: some of its profits will go to Women for Women, which helps support female survivors of conflict.
“Well, the way that started was, a fan showed up with a T-shirt that she had made with my mouth on it. Which I recognised, and I went, ‘Wait, is that…?’” That might be an unnerving experience for most people, but Anderson has to admit that for her, it is not so out of the ordinary. “I’m kind of used to it,” she shrugs. “Especially because of my old job. The enthusiasm of the fans, from being in something that’s remotely science fiction, is more intense. And so I’m used to tattoos on calves and buttocks and stuff like that.”
In 1993, The X Files arrived on television, with Anderson at the helm as the sceptical FBI agent Dana Scully. She had just turned 25, and she found herself at the frenzied frontier of a cultural phenomenon. The tattoos soon followed.
“It was really early on, actually. I had gone to Australia to do press, and somebody had David Duchovny and me on their buttocks, and were offering to show us.” She laughs. The thought of what they might look like now tickles her. “I don’t know whether we are both less… chubby-cheeked?”
Anderson has been wrangling with what is public and private for the past three decades. Recently, she has found herself having to think about it again. The X Files came back in 2016, after 14 years away, and now there is Sex Education, the Netflix teen comedy-drama in which she plays a sex therapist. “This has gone to a completely different level,” she smiles. “And it’s been a while since I’ve been in something that is so universally watched as this is. Even when I did The Fall, it was popular, but it wasn’t Netflix popular, you know? So the level of recognition has gone up to what it was when I was younger.” The trouble is that she forgets. “I’m so used to sliding under the radar that there have been some situations recently where it’s just been… a lot. Travelling with kids and stuff. You don’t want to be that person. You want to be like, ah, thanks!”
Early on in the London stage production of “All About Eve,” Gillian Anderson’s Margo Channing removes her stage makeup in a bright dressing room mirror. As she swipes away the layers, Anderson’s face is projected in close-up on massive video screens, which magnify the actual lines and dark circles under her eyes.
It’s a moment of realization for the audience: This is no straightforward production. This is a story about seeing the truth in ourselves.
“A couple people have said, ‘You’re so brave,’ ” said Anderson, sitting in her basement dressing room at the Noel Coward Theatre. “So much of what we see of people these days is Photoshopped and filtered, so the fact that I’m allowing the audience to see all the nooks and crannies of my face is unusual. And I hadn’t thought about that until someone said it. I didn’t feel brave in doing it, at all.”
Anderson arrived at the role of Margo, the aging theater diva faced with a diminishing career and a potential rival in her young assistant, Eve Harrington (Lily James), by happenstance. Anderson’s boyfriend, writer Peter Morgan (“The Crown,” “Frost/Nixon”), had suggested she look into whether the 1950 Bette Davis-Anne Baxter film had ever been translated to the stage when she discovered theater director Ivo van Hove was already adaptating Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s screenplay.
“I was trying to find out what his plans were for how he was going to cast it,” Anderson recalled. “Then I found out that Cate Blanchett was doing it, and so I slowly backed into the shadows and thought, ‘Man, do I want to see that.’ ”
Blanchett, it would turn out, had a scheduling conflict. Anderson signed on, and her thoughtful performance has earned her a lead actress nomination for the Olivier Awards on Sunday.
The recognition comes despite the fact that the cast, which includes Monica Dolan and Julian Ovenden, had just four weeks to rehearse. Actors were instructed to arrive off-book on Day 1. There was almost no discussion of the text, so Anderson slowly worked out Margo’s mindset and motivations along the way, well into previews in early February. Part of the challenge was working with a camera crew that filmed the stage action live to be projected on the aforementioned video screens. (Van Hove did something similar in last year’s adaptation of “Network.”)
“I wasn’t nervous about the cameras, but what was very clear when we started out was that none of us quite knew what it was that we had,” Anderson said. “I know that’s always slightly the case because one’s never in the audience looking back, but for some reason with this I think we didn’t quite know how it fit together, or whether it all fit together, or what it was that we had until we’d been doing it properly for a while. And then something seeped in and we understood it.”
I’ve added several images to the gallery from a gorgeous new photoshoot for The Telegraph magazine; the accompanying interview is posted below. Enjoy!
Gillian Anderson is hard to pin down. Is she American or English? (Her accent slips between the two, depending on who she is talking to.) Guarded or warm? (She can be either, based on her mood.) Tough or vulnerable? (Or both?)
‘‘Because my parents were American and we lived here in the UK, there was always a sense of not quite fitting in. Because of that I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider. I have perpetuated that because that is what feels familiar to me, it is what feels comfortable,’ she explains.
When we meet Anderson is English and warm, talking about the birthday parties she has to organise (she has three children, Piper, 24, Oscar, 12, and Felix, 10); and although she is very petite, wearing white patent stiletto boots and slender black trousers, she exudes the commanding charisma that makes her perfect for her imminent roles.
Rumour has it that she will be playing Margaret Thatcher in an upcoming series of The Crown, the Netflix series created and co-written by her partner, Peter Morgan. No one is confirming this, but no one is denying it either.
Meanwhile, this month she stars in a new Netflix series, Sex Education, in which she plays a sex therapist who lives with her teenage son (Asa Butterfield). And in February Anderson has another plum role: Margo Channing in Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove’s much-anticipated adaptation of All About Eve, also starring Lily James as Eve, with music by PJ Harvey.
The play – a modern reinterpretation of the 1950 film, which starred Bette Davis as Channing, a blazing Broadway star who is gradually supplanted by a younger rival – is about ambition and betrayal, femininity and anger, stardom and personal sacrifice.
Anderson’s is a bravura role, one that requires not just the cool intensity that we have come to expect from her, but also humour. Channing is deliciously droll, delivering endlessly quotable lines with comic precision (‘I’ll admit I may have seen better days, but I’m still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut’).
‘A couple of years ago my boyfriend Pete said to me, “You know what would be a great role for you? Margo Channing,”’ Anderson says. ‘So I rewatched the film and I thought, “Oh my God, how much fun would that be!”’
Anderson, not one to wait for opportunity, discovered that theatre producer Sonia Friedman had the rights to the script and was working on it with van Hove – Cate Blanchett was set to be Channing. ‘So I thought, “Ah OK, I’ll just slink into the background.” Then my agents got a call to say that she [Blanchett] had backed out due to scheduling conflicts, and there was interest, and was I interested? So I was like, “Yes! When’s the meeting? Now?”’
Van Hove, on the phone from New York, is equally excited to be working with Anderson. ‘Margo needs someone who understands what the theatre is all about, someone who can carry a play, who can occupy the whole stage, and Gillian can do that; she is a fabulous theatre actress. Although, of course, she became iconic for me in the 1990s when she was in The X-Files.’
There is something a little surprising about Ivo van Hove, an avant-garde director celebrated for his reinterpretations of plays and operas such as Hedda Gabler, Antigone and Lulu, professing fandom for a mid-’90s sci-fi series; but that is to forget the huge cultural impact of The X-Files, its quality and its ingenuity.
The series was about two FBI agents, played by Anderson and David Duchovny, who attempt to unravel various natural and supernatural mysteries. No one expected it to become such a success, least of all Anderson, who was 24 when she was cast in the show. It was her first major role and it made her a star.
She won multiple awards for her portrayal of the sceptical Dr Dana Scully, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe. But such stardom often involves sacrifice and Anderson was suffering.
With her unbuttoned silk shirts and stilettos, Gillian Anderson won devoted fans for her style in the acclaimed TV drama The Fall. Now her new collaboration lets everyone get the DSI Stella Gibson look
The first thing that strikes you about Gillian Anderson is her flawless English accent. The second is her size. It’s not just that she’s tiny; it’s as if she was built to a completely different scale model to the rest of us. The American actress best known for playing Agent Scully in The X Files, Anderson is friendly but intense, with a hint of prickliness, and she chooses each word with torturous care. Sentences peter out in a thicket of pauses and ums, before she fixes you with a piercing stare.
“It’s near impossible for me to stick with the British accent in America,” she says, curled up on a sofa in a loose silk shirtdress. “I can go a little way with the American accent here, but not if I’m surrounded by Brits. I end up sounding like a mid-Atlantic Euro-trash twat.”
Anderson is one of those famous people who, if you saw her on the street, you’d think you know from the school run. In fact, she’s been on our TV screens for most of her adult life. It’s 25 years since her breakthrough in The X Files and now, aged 50, she’s starred in almost every notable British drama of the past 13 years, from Bleak House to War & Peace and The Fall. She’s played Blanche Dubois in the West End, an experience she describes as “paralysingly terrifying”, and Edwina Mountbatten in a film about the last viceroy of India. She’s the sort of woman who, talking about her clothes, can say, “I don’t do well with ruffles,” and make it sound profound, and I mean that as a compliment. Today, she’s here to talk about how a life of combining red carpets with the school run has contributed to the capsule collection she’s designed for Winser London.
“I’m not fashion-centric and I don’t follow trends. I wanted a sweater that could feel dressed up or dressed down, that would work with a pair of jeans or a pair of dress pants. I wanted a reversible silk shirt that is shiny silk on one side and matt on the other, so it feels more casual. And I wanted a swing coat that doesn’t feel too bulky, that’s cut neatly on the shoulders. Most of the time I’m dressed down, in black jeans and boots. This feels like you have the best of both worlds.”
The 11th season finale of The X-Files airs tomorrow, and while there’s no word yet if there will be a 12th season, Gillian Anderson has confirmed that if there is, she won’t be returning as Agent Dana Scully. While she’s been vocal that this season is her last, who knows what the future will hold? The 11th season of the cult hit comes to an end with Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully desperately racing to find their son, William, who is on the run, while the Cigarette Smoking Man pushes forward with his ultimate plan.
Gillian Anderson spoke with Parade recently.
You received your star on the Walk of Fame recently. What was that like for you?
It was amazing. I didn’t know what to expect. It only hit me when I saw someone posting a picture of the guy who was making it, before they even poured the cement in. When that was tweeted it out, it suddenly hit me and I got quite emotional about it. It was wonderful to be there surrounded by friends and loved ones. The people I asked to speak – Bryan Fuller and Joel McHale– were incredibly touching, and Joel’s speech was hysterically funny. It was such an honor.
Where is your star located?
Aside from being outside a kabab shop, it’s near the Fox Theatre.
When did you realize The X-Files was a cultural phenomenon?
I think it really only hit sometime mid-second season. It wasn’t until second or third season.
Do you have a favorite episode this season?
Probably four and seven. Four was Darin’s and seven was one of Glen’s. There’s no dialogue in it.
If you could be any other character on the show, who would you be?
Mulder. He’s such a cool character. Throw some pencils at the ceiling, eat some sunflower seeds.
Are your kids interested in acting?
My oldest [daughter] is in school for production and costume design. My youngest two are in one of the episodes. The little one enjoyed it very much, took it very seriously, but then declared he wanted to be a stuntman.
What other projects are you working on?
I have a couple things lined up for 2019.
In this interview, Gillian confirmed that season 11 of The X-Files is her last, and, she won’t be returning to American Gods, following the departure of Bryan Fuller and Michael Green.
If you have found yourself contemplating rewatching some old episodes of “The X-Files” to brush up before the upcoming Season 11 premiere on Fox this Wednesday, you’re in good company.
“The mythology of this show, it was complex,” said series creator Chris Carter in a wild understatement. “Sometimes,” he admitted by phone from Vancouver, where he was recently finishing up the season finale, “I have to go back and remind myself of the way the puzzle pieces fit together.”
After a 14-year hiatus, the beloved sci fi drama returned in 2016 for a quick-hit miniseries. The six episodes reacquainted viewers with the tangled history of FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and their quest to ferret out the truth about aliens, the paranormal and all manner of monsters and monstrous men. Fox was pleased enough by the ratings success of the reboot to order up 10 more episodes — which Anderson says will be her last — to continue the pair’s journey.
Reaction to the miniseries was mixed, even among the “X-Files” cast and crew, but all are optimistic that they found a groove with the upcoming season.
“Last season we really went from a standing start, and this season I feel we have much more of a running start,” Carter said. “When it was proposed to me that ‘The X-Files’ would come back, it came out of the blue. When it was proposed to me when it would return again for Season 11, it was something I had been actively involved in and half-anticipated.”
“I think we were rusty,” Duchovny said of the 2016 season by phone shortly after Christmas.
“It felt like we were finding our way with it,” Anderson agreed. “It didn’t necessarily feel like what it used to be and what it could be. It didn’t feel like we were living its potential, necessarily.”
But, she said by phone from Vancouver, that unfulfilled sense of how great it could be served as motivation. “Part of my decision to come at it again one more time was to have an opportunity to do that. And certainly there’s more of an opportunity with 10 than there was with six, just because of the nature of the show and that it is so many different things, there are so many different worlds that we live in, and aspects of these characters that we get to play, and types of episodes that we do. So to have an opportunity to explore that full range through a larger arc was interesting, and with the hope and the understanding that that perhaps will create a better conclusion for ourselves and for the fans.”
Those fans, said Carter, can count on the normal ratio of “monster of the week” to mythology episodes and expect the series to run the gamut emotionally from absurd and uproarious to poignant and pulse-pounding.
As for this being the end, Anderson is resolved — “This is it for me,” she said — but Duchovny isn’t ready for that conversation, pointing out that he himself left the show at one point during its original run.
“Gillian said it’s been it before … I don’t know. We can make pronouncements or we could say, ‘Well, Fox might not want more.’ Who knows? I have no idea, so I’d rather not even dwell on the hypotheticals of it. I’d rather just enjoy these 10.”
Time will tell, but for now, Anderson says, “It has been an extraordinary gift and I’m incredibly grateful for the existence of Scully in my life and for the gift that Chris gave me in casting me, and my friendship with David, and it’s been a wonderful run, but I’ve got other things to do.”
Gillian Anderson first moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s with the intention of transitioning from a career on stage to one on the big screen. After a year of “logging audition after audition” for films of various sizes, though, she agreed to add television to the mix as well. In 1993 she landed a spot on Fox drama “Class of ’96.” While that was a one-off guest-starring role, proving she could “hit a mark” and developing a relationship with the network helped her land “The X-Files,” the series she credits with launching her career. As “The X-Files” prepares to premiere a continuation of its 2016 revival, Anderson is celebrating with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Jan. 8.
Anderson attributes her big break to luck more than ambition. “I was so green at the beginning, and so young, and I was just exploring,” she says. “I showed up and hit my mark and learned my lines and was pulled into this vortex of this hit show. It was my first professional, proper gig, and it was a cannon of sorts.”
Anderson says she has always been, and always will be, very grateful to Scully for the impact that she’s had both on her own career and on a number of young women around the world, many of whom decided to go into the fields of science or law enforcement after seeing that world opened to them by the show.
“The character that Chris Carter created, one didn’t see her often on television at that time,” says Anderson. “So to be a part of that was incredibly empowering for me and extraordinary to be a part of both a character and a series that was so iconic and game-changing.”
However, she says that after living in Scully’s skin for nine seasons during the original run of “The X-Files” she was “so identified with that character” that it became important to her to prove that wasn’t the only thing she could do.
“In the U.K. there always had been a multi-platform for actors to work in — there hadn’t been a stigma between television, film and theater, and some of the best actors in British history have moved between the media effortlessly,” Anderson says. “And so when I moved there and was approached to do ‘Bleak House,’ I was slightly shocked that they would imagine that I would be able to do something like that, but that was exactly the kind of thing that I had always wanted to do. And so I leapt onto that.”