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Family Circle
August 2008

My Family Life
By Patty A. Martinez

Reprising her role as Agent Dana Scully in this month's new X-Files flick, I Want to Believe, Gillian Anderson has solved plenty of mysteries. But the Emmy winner confesses that parenthood can be one big question mark. "I don't have all the answers," says the 39-year-old, who is raising daughter Piper, 13, and son Oscar, 1, in London. "But I enjoy figuring things out along the way."

The X-Files is a huge phenomenon. When did Piper realize her mom is a star?

Not until she was 11, because we don't watch television at home. Even though I made a name for myself on TV, Piper grew up without watching it. And once she did realize I was a celebrity, she wasn't particularly impressed! I suppose my career has rubbed off on her a little bit; she wants to be a director someday.

Has she made any of her own movies?

She created a few using QuickTime on her computer. One stands out in my mind: It's an eerie, black-and-white short that's a bit twisted, like an Eraserhead horror movie. She even added music to it.

Do you see yourself in Piper's personality?

There are similarities in our lives. I grew up as an only child in London until I was 11; then we moved to the States and my parents had two more kids. Piper was an only child in the States until she was 12; we came to London right before I had Oscar.

Now that you have another child, do you go out of your way to spend quality time alone with Piper?

She gets out of school early on Wednesdays, so we'll see a movie or a play or head to a museum. We're lucky to live in London; there's so much culture right in our own backyard.

And what's your "mommy and me" time like with Oscar?

Right now he's obsessed with the book Shiny Little Engine That Could. He likes me to read it over and over again. Between that and the Thomas the Tank Engine video series, he can be entertained for hours.

Do you think Piper considers you a cool mom?

There was a time when she'd roll her eyes at anything I did, and she still ducks in embarrassment if I miss a turn on one of London's roundabouts and we have to go around a second time. But with age comes a certain amount of perspective, and I think she's finally realized that our family has a relaxed set of rules - like no set bedtime on Fridays or Saturdays - and she appreciates that.

Any tips for dealing with a moody teen?

I tell Piper if she's going to be rude, she can leave the room and come back when she's interested in being more positive or communicative. But I probably don't have a clue as to what's coming!

What's the hardest question you've had to answer as a parent?

The sex question. She asked me to explain the nitty-gritty of it - while driving, no less! At one point I thought we were done with the conversation - until she started up with the question again. I was like, "Oh, man. I thought I was off the hook!"


Best Known For: Emmy-winning performance on the sci-fi TV series The X-Files, which aired from 1993 to 2002.

Dinner Duty: Piper usually wants pizza, but a meal we can always agree on is roasted chicken with veggies.

Great Vacation Spots: Now that we live in London we go to France and Spain. I love Bali, but the thought of a 17-hour flight with a toddler does not appeal to me!

Weekend Pastime: This city has great outdoor markets. We have so much fun shopping for clothes, produce and flowers.

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