Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gillian Anderson on Moby Dick

Cool article here, entitled

"Goodbye Mulder, hello Ahab: Gillian Anderson talks 'Moby Dick'"

"Anderson plays Elizabeth, Ahab’s wife. As Melville sticklers will point out, Elizabeth is barely mentioned in a sprawling novel that has no real female presence."

And she is barely in any of the movie--I don't get why it had to be a famous actress...

"Anyway, there is a book out there about what might have happened to her post-Ahab’s demise. I haven’t read it but Ethan [Hawke] has because he has read everything about 'Moby Dick.'"

That intrigues me--does Ethan Hawke actually do this, read everything about Moby Dick? It is possible he was preparing for the role, albeit a kind of small role, even for him. I know Starbuck acts as the other side of the conscience but again, it is a small character, even in the movie.

"She can see his obsession starts to get stronger as he obsesses about taking revenge. It’s quite a beautiful story about God and man and fallibility and how mortals tend to think we have godlike qualities and that we are more powerful than the forces of nature. And he finds out he’s not. "

Yes, you can sort of see that she sees it coming. I just wish it had come out more in the movie. I really wish Ahab had been a bit more menacing or at least aloof to her. He is still loving and playful with her.

"When I got the job I read a good portion of the book, and one of the things I was really struck by was Ishmael, who tells the story, is constantly confounded by the fact that he can’t seem to grasp the essence of the whale …. It has been said that it’s about humans' inability to grasp God, the greater concept of God … but that’s not what you asked me! [laughs]"

So now what I want to know is if she had ever read the book before! According to the IMDB trivia page at, I think it was the character of Scully who was the fan, not the actress. Also notice that she didn't read the whole thing either. And she took the job, it appears, without ever having read the book, simply knowing that it was a classic. (And the limited role in this current movie is so small I cannot help but wonder if she is hard up for jobs...)

"It’s nice at the beginning of the miniseries to see [Ahab] with his wife and child, with a tenderness that is not anywhere in the book, from what I’ve read."

I agree with her analysis here. There is tenderness in the movie that is simply not in the novel. However, this is the one flaw I saw in the movie (at least so far after part one). He clearly loves his family. I just don't buy him rushing off to do this, unless later, somewhere unless I've missed it, he says something about him saving the world by defeating the whale, saving the world for his family.

And then on another purely cynical note, I can't believe a professional actress would say this: "I don’t watch TV, I don’t watch anything. " How do you hone your craft? How can you not see what others are doing? That's like a writer never reading another's stuff, or a director never watching another's movie. You have to see good and bad acting every once in a while.

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