The Fall: Gillian Anderson turned down Lady Cora role in Downton Abbey!


Gillian Anderson first hit our screens playing Dana Skully in the extra-terrestrial X Fies series, and subsequent movies, 20 years ago.

In that time she has been voted Worlds Sexiest Woman by a lads mag, whilst securing her place in the TV hall of fame for two generations, and gathered more cult followers than you can shake a stick at!

However, when discussing her new role, DCS Stella Gibson in the hit BBC2 5-part thriller, The fall, which premiered on UK TV on Monday night, the star has explained why the character suits her better than any other.

Speaking to the Daily mail newspaper, the mother of three actress explained:

“I’ve played a succession of tightly-wound, dark, confused, suicidal women.

“If Stella finds a man attractive, she doesn’t hesitate to make the first move. I quite like that in a woman, I’ve discovered,

“I like the way Stella is so sexually confident but there are consequences to that, as you’ll see over the serial.

“I would quite like to be like her. But I found filming the sex scenes difficult. It always is. Both sides get very nervous and you think, “What if he’s a terrible kisser?” I’m pleased Stella keeps her clothes on, though. I am not happy naked on film. But Stella is comfortable in her own skin. She’s much more feminine than Scully ever was.”

Gillian Anderson Scully-dana-3

“Whenever I think of that show, I think of a 12-year-old pretending to be an agent. Scully felt quite childlike for a long time and a part of that was because I was only in my early 20s when I started to play her. Audiences got to see us both grow up.”

Gillian was born in Britain and raised here until she was 11 years old, before moving to Hollywood where she made her big break.  She decided to move back here after her first marriage to art director, Clyde Klotz, broke down after finishing filming the final series of the X Files.

It was here where she met her second husband, the father of her younger two sons, who she unfortunately split from last year.


With the struggle that raising kids whilst acting presents, Anderson found herself turning down some pretty big time roles, including that of Lady Cora Grantham in Downton Abbey, currently being played by Elizabeth McGovern, of which she commented:

“My 18-year-old cannot believe that I would turn down Game Of Thrones or Downton — things she loves to watch.  But if I am going to be spending that amount of time working on something I would rather be working with a director like Martin Scorsese.”

The Fall

And she nearly made the same mistake again when she turned down the part of Stella in The Fall, without even reading it:

“I had watched Prime Suspect years ago and loved it. The Jane Tennison character [played by Helen Mirren] was brilliant; she was self-centred and had ego and was a little bit self-righteous. Stella is different to Jane but there is something quite mysterious about who exactly she is. As I was reading the script I wanted to know more about her.”

The Fall continues on Monday at 10pm on BBC2/BBC2 HD – watch an interview with Gillian Anderson about it in the clip below: