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Johnny English Reborn - Gillian Anderson interview

Johnny English Reborn

Story by Jack Foley

GILLIAN Anderson talks about playing the M-like Pegasus in Johnny English Reborn, being unable to keep a straight face for most of the time and why she also relished the opportunity of playing a new kind of agent.

Q. Did you model Pegasus on anybody?
Gillian Anderson: [Smiles] Everybody keeps bringing up Judi Dench as M, which is an obvious parallel to a degree but I need to go back and watch that to see whether I am copying her in any way because I have no clue if I am in my subconscious memory of Judi Dench because my memory of Judi Dench is that she manages to hold everybody in her power with a whisper, she whispers and everybody is paralysed and I think it takes more effort for Pegasus to maintain control than Judi Dench’s M. So, I don’t know how many similarities there are but I’m curious now because people keep bringing it up unless it’s just an easy thing to say to draw some sort of comparison.

Q. Is it easy to play the assertive, straight-faced authority figure with Rowan Atkinson around?
Gillian Anderson: I don’t why I keep being cast as everybody’s boss. If you saw me in my real life, in my black jeans and my flip-flops running around the playground after my kids, I don’t think… But I keep being cast in these roles and it cracks me up. That in and of itself was funny enough for me to say: “Yes, why not? If you’re mad enough to reckon I can do this, I’ll show you!”

Q. What was it like playing an agent again so long after The X-Files?
Gillian Anderson: Ironically, I’ve also played an MI5 agent this year (in Shadow Dance) so I don’t know if I’m just getting redundant. I think at first [after X-Files] my intention was to do things as different as possible and turned down a lot of stuff that was even remotely like it and then I realised there was a unique challenge in doing something along the same lines but making it completely different, that’s somehow more challenging to play a secret service agent and make it very different. But this didn’t feel anything like my previous experience so it felt like something completely different.

Read our interview with Rowan Atkinson