Gillian Anderson breaks down The Great season 2 death twist

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Photo credit: Hulu
Photo credit: Hulu

The Great season 2 spoilers follow.

The Great returned for its second season over the weekend, giving us more completely historically inaccurate tales of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) and her plan to consolidate power from — and kill — her husband Peter III (Nicholas Hoult).

It also gives us the always-iconic Gillian Anderson, fresh from Sex Education series 3, as Catherine's mother: Joanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp.

Her extravagant name suits her over-the-top demeanour, as she turns up to the trial in Russia and turns everyone's head. She also tries multiple times over the season to sleep with Peter, and by the end, she succeeds.

Photo credit: Hulu
Photo credit: Hulu

Related: The Crown's Gillian Anderson teams up with Viola Davis in first-look pictures for new TV series

But, in a twist we didn't see coming, Joanna accidentally falls out of a window to her death... while having sex with Peter.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Anderson spoke about the fun of not knowing about the "hilarious" death until she read the script, stating: "I thought it was brilliant, a brilliant way to end things."

"I did fall backwards and onto the airbag, which was much fun," she explained of filming the scene, while stating that she also enjoyed lying in the dirt with all the blood pooling around her head.

"One of the things that they did a bit with the costume, which I need to look out for when I watch it again, was that the ruffles underneath the petticoats were a raspberry colour," she added, "so that when she's flying through the air down towards her demise, the raspberry coloured ruffles are floating or ruffling as her feet are kicking in midair".

Photo credit: Jeff Spicer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jeff Spicer - Getty Images

Related: The Crown's Gillian Anderson weighs in on Netflix controversy

Joanna's death doesn't necessarily mean the end of Anderson's involvement in the show though, as showrunner Tony McNamara told her she could still come back.

"Well, I can always be a ghost," Anderson teased. "Totally open to coming back and haunting the hell out of their schloss."

The Great is available via Hulu in the US. In the UK, StarzPlay via Amazon Prime Video has season 1, which is also available on DVD.

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