Annabeth Gish has been all over the airwaves this year in her recurring guest spot as the president's eldest daughter on The West Wing, on Showtime's new Brotherhood series (premiering in July), and tonight, as one of a group of travelers kidnapped by an evil cop outside an eerie Nevada mining town in Stephen King's Desperation (8 pm/ET on ABC). But despite working steadily in the biz since 1986, she's still the kind of actress who slips quietly under the radar, earning admiration without big fame, and she likes it that way. spoke to the X-Files alum about her newfound talent as a scream queen and where her career is taking her next. Are you a big Stephen King fan ?
Gish: I am. I'm kind of a 'fraidy-cat in general. But some horror movies, and King's movies in particular, always have a humanity to them. They're not like Saw or something where it's horror for horror's sake. It feels really authentic. There's a core story and a core crisis. What was it like to work on your first horror film ?
Gish: I have to say, after working with [director] Mick Garris on a Stephen King film, I would love to do another one. It was an awakening experience. You get to exorcise and exercise your demons. You're placed in these situations that are horrific and yet you know that they're not real, so in some ways, psychologically, it's like cleansing yourself because you're facing them. For example, I have this fear of spiders, and I had to shoot this scene where I had six tarantulas on my back .... They were real ?
Gish: Oh, yeah. They did give me the option of a body double, but there was some part of me that, in shooting this movie, just really wanted to do it. I don't think I'll ever do it again, but I can at least say that at one time in my life I had six tarantulas on my body. What else were you thinking about when you were giving those great screams in the movie ?
Gish: That's the thing with King's stuff because your characterizations are so rich, when (SPOILER ALERT!) my husband in the movie, played by Henry Thomas, gets shot, it's not hard to really elicit the scream of your lifetime because the situation, even just in your imagination, is the worst thing you could possibly imagine. Where was it all filmed? It looked like you really were in the middle of nowhere.
Gish: Bisbee and Tucson, Arizona. And, honestly, one of the best parts about this movie for me was that we filmed in this old, beautiful-but-kind-of-scary strip mine. The city of Bisbee is set up on the lip of this huge, gaping hole in the earth. It was eerie almost, because you feel like industry and technology have stripped Mother Nature. So it feels kind of weird there. Even without the threat of possessed, homicidal policemen !
Gish: Yeah! We shot a lot of night scenes close to the bottom of that mine. Again, I think sometimes your exterior circumstances can really feed your inner emotions. We all had a fun time trying not to be creeped out. How do you look back on your days on The X-Files ?
Gish: Very fondly. For me, it was an incredible experience. Even to this day I miss everyone the crew, the cast. It was very bittersweet because just as I started to kind of find my legs and get my stride, the show ended. Do you ever think you'd want to do another show that has such a strong relationship with its fans ?
Gish: It's interesting, because I have this new show, Brotherhood, and it's not a cult kind of a show it's a dramatic, family show but I'm so sincerely proud of it. It's the best work I've ever done. It has a depth and an intensity that I think cable television, especially, is really capable of generating. But in terms of genre shows, between The X-Files and Desperation, I can say they're inherently fun to make. I heard you met your husband, stunt coordinator Wade Allen (Mission: Impossible III), on the set of The X-Files. Do you still enjoy working together? Has he taught you any fancy Krav Maga [martial arts] moves ?
Gish: He's taught me basic stuff. It's ironic, though, because we're kind of the yin and yang. He does martial arts and I do yoga; I eat tofu and he eats Taco Bell. It's a very good complement. He worked on the pilot episode of Brotherhood, and then we also worked together on a TV-movie called The Detective, which I think is airing on Lifetime this month. Tell us more about Brotherhood.
Gish: It's about two brothers one's a crime boss and one's a state senator. I'm the wife of the state senator, but I have a shady side of my own personality. Ooh, shady sides are good !
Gish: Can I just tell you ? It's such a relief! People can understand that I'm not just a good girl. After Mystic Pizza, that wholesome quality just stuck. You won't think I'm so wholesome after Brotherhood! I've been in the business for 23 years now, and it's been great because I have done a lot of work, but I've never hit such a superstar status that I can't have a private life. Television has been good to me.
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