Feature interview extracts of the week with actors Gillian Anderson, Cherry Jones & Tracee Chimo

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gillian-anderson-the-fallInterviewed by Rachel Cooke in The Observer (January 3, 2016, Anderson is currently appearing in War and Peace, and about to start shooting the third series of The Fall (pictured left), before reprising her performance as Blanche DuBois in A Street Named Desire in New York. Rachel Cook’s introduction is priceless — and exactly true to the measure of an actress I have also met and interviewed.

Of all the truly famous actors I have ever met – by which I mean those whose faces have appeared, bus-sized, on posters on Sunset Boulevard rather than among, say, the pages of the Radio Times – Gillian Anderson is by some distance the cleverest at interviews. Is it a performance, the way she appears so sane and normal? Or is she really sane and normal? Impossible to say, though I have my suspicions. All I can tell you is that, tiny in her jeans and boots, she radiates a certain surprising solidarity. You’d call it sisterliness, if that didn’t sound so my-pal-the-Hollywood-star deluded.

….She is “terrible” at holidays. “I keep myself busy because when I stop, that’s when I get in trouble. That’s what I’ve learned. But then sometimes it’s important that I force myself to stop, because what am I running from? It could be that I’ve got huge grief left over from the death of my brother [her younger brother, Aaron, died in 2011 of a brain tumour at the age of just 30], or that something from my childhood is niggling at me, or it could be that because I am 47 and know how challenging it is to get work as you move close to your 50s, that much of my perpetual movement is about the fear of it [work] stopping. Then again, maybe that’s just a good business decision on my part. Either way, I need to get at the truth of it.

On being single:

“The thing is that there are needs and there are wants. I have a list of needs and I will not compromise about those. But aside from that… I don’t meet anybody! It’s not like I meet people, and they ask me out, and I say no. It’s not even like I meet people and I don’t give them enough attention. I just don’t meet them at all. I’m either on a plane, or on set, or with my children. There have been people in my life who’ve tried to set me up, and if a friend said: ‘I know someone amazing’, I would show up. But here’s the thing: I’ve got three children. It’s a big ask.”

How long has she been on her own? “That depends. I haven’t been in a relationship for a couple of years. But I’m not anxious about it, nor am I interested in starting to see someone who doesn’t fit. People go: ‘Oh, he’s so cute.’ The trouble is, I’m not interested in looks at all.”

cherry-jonesThe Broadway veteran who is now appearing on the TV series “Transparent”, interviewed in the New York Times:

Q. You are so closely associated with the New York theater scene. Are you glad to be expanding into more television work?

A: Theater will always be my home, but I remember Julie Harris and Frances Sternhagen beating advice into my head when I was being a little theater snob in the ’90s. They said, “Darling, if you want to work when you are older, you have got to diversify.”

tracee-chimo-noises-offNow in previews on Broadway for Noises Off (in which she plays the harried stage manager, pictured left with headphones), Chimo is interviewed in the New York Times  about her slow career break:

Ms. Chimo came to acting in a more circuitous fashion. A dancer from an early age, she injured her knee during her senior year in high school and watched her college scholarships evaporate. But Salem State University was still willing to take her, and she graduated with a degree in drama.

Arriving in New York, she soon decamped for a yearlong contract dancing on Carnival cruises, then returned to seven years of “bartending, waiting tables, walking dogs, cutting keys at a hardware store in the Village, babysitting and going on auditions all the time and nobody giving me a chance,” she recalled.

After she got her first breaks in the off-Broadway hits Circle Mirror Transformation and Bad Jews, she didn’t go for easy choices:

Ms. Chimo didn’t work for six months after winning raves for Circle Mirror Transformation, largely because she was presented with several more shy teenager roles and she didn’t want to repeat herself.

“I feel like I’ve always had to fight to get people to see that I can do more than the last thing that I’ve done,” she said.

Though she’s now also appearing in a TV series called Difficult People, she found it hard to get cast in TV:

She spent a couple dispiriting months in Los Angeles, failing to impress the television crowd. “Casting people would call my manager and say, ‘She’s a bit heavy; she’s not pretty enough for what we’re looking for; she needs to learn how to do her hair.’”