With Season 2 of the crime thriller The Fall available on Netflix on January 16th, show stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, along with creator Allan Cubitt, were on hand at the TCA Winter Press Tour. Set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the story of the first season continues with Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson’s (Anderson) pursuit of serial killer Paul Spector (Dornan). The stakes are higher and the risks are greater, and the more Spector taunts and provokes Gibson, the closer she comes to capturing him.
During both the panel presentation and a 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actress Gillian Anderson talked about what she was most looking forward to exploring with Season 2, what it was like to finally get to share scenes with Jamie Dornan after their characters’ cat-and-mouse game of Season 1, the challenges of doing an 11 ½ page scene just of dialogue, her character’s imperfections, why this is one of her favorite characters that she’s played, and the difference she finds between working in the UK and working in America. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
GILLIAN ANDERSON: I feel like we had those discussions already, so I had an idea from Allan [Cubitt]. We had already discussed trajectory. Obviously, I think it was important that, by the end of the second season, you needed to see them in the same room together, at some point. You needed to see him caught, at some stage. And for Allan, who understands technique and the dramatic arc, he knew approximately where that needed to take place. He had such a great handle on the necessity of tension and how to bleed it out, and therefore the different types of tensions that can happen and how, cinematically and dramatically, one needs to paint that, in order to have the biggest impact. Even having somebody waiting in a car while a scene is taking place or the breaking of the pipes, he thinks about the different things that can transpire, in order to build the level of tension.
Once you did get to read the scripts for Season 2, how surprising was it for you?
ANDERSON: I feel like, when I read the second season, there were things taking place that I could never have imagined [Allan] was going to explore, like that whole thing with Spector revealing to Katie that he’s fucking with Stella. I didn’t expect that whole mindfuck happens with the audience and with Katie, and the degree to which that flirtation is taken, and the way that Spector then twists it, and then molds Katie and twists her against her friends, and starts to build that envy. The psychology of all of that is so out there and disturbing.
What was it like to finally actually get to share scenes with Jamie Dornan?
ANDERSON: What ended up being interesting was that, at the same time the two characters were feeling each other out, Jamie and I were feeling each other out, so to speak, in terms of how we were approaching the one big scene that we had. It was an 11 ½ page scene. Fortunately, we both came to it having it in our bones, so we could really play with it and just do whole takes, one after the next after the next. That enabled us to just really be there and be present, as actors and in character, so that we could experience that life, in the same way that a predator stalks their prey with a heightened sensitivity to each other. That was present for us.
ANDERSON: One thing about the show is how slow it goes, and there was plenty of time for that. The space in the scenes that we have probably surpasses any other series. So, to have a scene like that, where it is pretty much dialogue, back and forth, throughout the whole thing, we could still take time with that, but it was time built within the words and not necessarily between the lines. I think that added to it, in a sense. I think it enhanced it.
All of the imperfections that Stella Gibson had in the first season are still there. Was it really important to you that none of that get smoothed out?
ANDERSON: They originated with Allan, and they make up who she is. They are still there, and they expand and contract in the second season. And then, you get to see other aspects of her and more flavors of her personality. There is the warmth and compassion and emotion, and yet those other characteristics are still evident.
Is this a character you would like to live in some more, even if she is solving another case?
ANDERSON: Oh, definitely! Yeah. She is one of my favorite characters. I also haven’t read anything like her before. I feel like Stella is one of the most interesting and compelling and complex characters that I’ve ever had an opportunity to spend time with, and this series is probably the favorite thing that I do. And that’s everything to do with the way that it’s shot, the fact that it’s shot in Northern Ireland, the company that we work with, the crew and, obviously, the quality of the writing. I hope that we get to do this for many more seasons.
ANDERSON: The things that I’ve done over here, over the last few years, are big networks and big machines, and there’s quite a lot at stake. Not to say that there is less at stake in the UK, or with those productions. When I want to talk flights on a network show, I don’t know how many people I have to go through. In between the point when I ask the question and I get an answer, a month could pass. In the UK, I text the travel lady, she texts me back, and I know within a few minutes when I’m going to be flying. It feels more human being to human being. To be honest, I feel a great deal more respect. There’s a little bit of cattle-ranching over here. That’s certainly been my experience, and it’s a shame because it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Fall Season 2 is available on Netflix on January 16th.