‘Scoop’ Star Gillian Anderson Says Few Publications ‘Respect the Truth’ and ‘Treat Their Audience as Adults’ (2024)

Gillian Anderson wants the truth.

After winning an Emmy for Netflix’s “The Crown,” Gillian Anderson is back in the royal realm, but this time she’s in the shoes of journalist Emily Maitlis in Netflix’s taut thriller “Scoop.” The film tells the story of the BBC news team that secured the explosive 2019 interview with Prince Andrew about his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Anderson has a deep admiration and respect for journalists, but in a post Donald Trump-era she’s grown increasingly frustrated with news outlets that have lost focus on their core mission.

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“It’s frustrating when publications that don’t lead with integrity, whether in news or entertainment, and devolve into tabloid journalism,” Anderson tells Variety. “There are so few left that respect the truth, the job and the integrity of individuals. They should treat their audience as adults, capable of making up their own minds. That’s why films like ‘All the President’s Men’ end up capturing the love they do — that’s because it’s something that doesn’t exist much anymore.”

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Directed by Philip Martin and featuring Billie Piper and Rufus Sewell, “Scoop” has garnered strong reviews. Variety’s Guy Lodge praised Anderson’s portrayal, describing it as, “a performance of witty mimicry, but human resolve too.”

In the thick of the Emmy race for outstanding television movie, Anderson is one of the contenders for supporting actress (limited series or TV movie), among the film’s other submissions. While performances from TV movies are seldom recognized nowadays, especially in the supporting categories, the 55-year-old star has garnered an impressive reputation.

A force of nature in the entertainment industry, Anderson’s perhaps best known for her role as FBI special agent Dana Scully in the supernatural series “The X-Files,” where she captivated audiences, set a new standard for female characters in science fiction and picked up four Emmy noms and one win for lead drama actress in 1997. She landed two more Emmy mentions after — in lead actress (limited) in 2006 for “Bleak House” and supporting drama actress for her turn as Margaret Thatcher in the fourth season of “The Crown,” which she won.

But her acting talent hasn’t stopped there, nor is it confined to a single role or genre. She has consistently demonstrated her range through various challenging and diverse roles. She also starred alongside Jamie Dornan in the crime drama “The Fall,” playing Stella Gibson, a tenacious detective with a complex personal life.

Anderson sat down with Variety for a wide-ranging interview to discuss her role in “Scoop,” how close we came to a continuation of “The Fall” and what she’s working on next.

Read: All Primetime Emmy predictions in every category onVariety’sAwards Circuit.

‘Scoop’ Star Gillian Anderson Says Few Publications ‘Respect the Truth’ and ‘Treat Their Audience as Adults’ (3)

How did you get involved with the film?

I received the script and, being a big fan of Peter Moffitt’s writing, found it thrilling. I have a penchant for stories about journalists, especially journalist films, but I was hesitant to commit to a role so closely tied to someone well-known in my sphere. My character is very famous in the UK and even walks her dog near my neighborhood. I wasn’t sure if I wanted that level of exposure. Despite my doubts, I agreed to a Zoom meeting with Peter and Phillip, intending to convince them I shouldn’t do it. However, they pointed out that my hesitation was exactly why I should take it on. As I spoke, I realized they were right. The key was the interview and I focused on immersing myself in every detail of it. I felt that if we got the interview right, everything else would fall into place.

It was a wonderful project to work on, and I love how it turned out. At its core, it’s a story about the victims, even though it doesn’t focus solely on them. It’s about speaking truth to power and the importance of independent journalism in society.

Was there any further apprehension about taking the role because it was tied to Prince Andrew and the Royal Family?

Regarding the royal family, my involvement leaned towards supporting and celebrating the brave women who came forward. Sometimes, their voices get lost in these stories, but we’re trying to remind everyone that this story is about them, particularly the victims of Epstein. Reading the script, certain truths stood out, such as the realities of the townhouses near Epstein’s, with girls being shuttled by NYPD and secret service agents. Despite the light music and upbeat feel, the seriousness of the subject matter was compelling. Emily, the journalist in the story, is formidable and has an incredible brain. I’m always impressed by journalists who handle live interviews under various circ*mstances, whether it’s Tiananmen Square or sitting with someone like Bill Clinton or Prince Philip. This admiration also fueled my desire to be part of this project.

Can you share your thoughts about your relationship to the theatre and the current state of Broadway and the industry post-pandemic? Do you think it’s dying?

It’s tricky right now, but I don’t want to believe that theater is dying. Every three or four years, I get the itch to return to the stage. Eventually, a yearning grows, similar to feeling broody, and it starts to occupy my mind more. It’s almost time again. The last play I did was “All About Eve” in the UK. After playing such an extraordinary and challenging character like Blanche, it’s hard to take on anything less. The commitment required — physically, timewise and being away from my kids — means it has to be something truly special. I admire actors who are constantly on stage, but for me, it costs more, perhaps because of the intensity of roles like Blanche. It’s difficult to find roles with as much depth and substance as Tennessee Williams’ characters.

What’s the status of getting more “X-Files?” And do you know anything about Vince Gilligan’s new show he’s working on?

There’s potentially going to be more “X-Files,” but not with Vince; it’s coming from somewhere else. As for Vince’s new show, I don’t know much about its progress. Interestingly, I recently did “Tron: Ares,” which has whet my appetite for sci-fi. This is the first time I’m in L.A. and taking meetings with sci-fi writers. It’s odd you mention this because I’ve been brainstorming what stepping into that space might look like.

Is there a chance to ever get more of “The Fall” with Jamie Dornan?

It was one of my favorite characters I ever got to play, and the experience was fantastic with an amazing crew like Allan Cubitt, an incredibly talented writer, directed the second and third seasons. We were re-opening up the idea again a few years ago. I approached them about doing a fourth season, set a few years later. We went down that distance and explored the idea but couldn’t quite crack it. We came very close. Many people ask about it, and I believe she’s the kind of character we could step into her at any time, so I don’t think it’s entirely put to bed.

Have you been enjoying the “Dune” franchise?

I love the “Dune” franchise. I could live inside those things forever.

What can you tell us anything about “Tron: Ares?”

Well… there are these bikes and motorcycle things that have lights on the wheels. There’s also a grid thing. Somebody might die in it. That much I can reveal to you. You should be properly excited.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming films, “The Salt Path” and “The Abandons”?

“The Salt Path” I shot last summer. It’s a two-hander with Jason Isaacs, based on a true story from a novel about a UK couple. Their kids have just gone off to college when the husband makes a bad investment, causing them to lose everything — their farm, their livelihood. Bailiffs force them out within days, and with no place to stay, and they decide to walk the coastal path around Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset. This journey takes many months, and to add to their struggles, the husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness the same week they are evicted. Despite the rough circ*mstances, the film is incredibly joyful. The book was a bestseller in the UK, and the couple it’s based on, were very involved in the project. Directed by Marianne Elliott, a renowned theatre director making her feature debut, the film is a labor of love for everyone involved. They’re hoping to take it to the Toronto Film Festival.

“The Abandons,” I’m in the process of shooting right now in Calgary. It’s a Netflix Western taking place in mid 1800s with Lena Headey. I’ve been in cowboy camp for two weeks riding horses and carriages through my town.

Is this your last role in the Royal Family Universe?

Yeah, probably going to be the last. I think maybe two is enough. Maybe?

“Scoop” is now streaming on Netflix. This interview has been condensed.

‘Scoop’ Star Gillian Anderson Says Few Publications ‘Respect the Truth’ and ‘Treat Their Audience as Adults’ (2024)
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