Sixty Second Therapist
Stylist Magazine: Issue 54
November 15, 2010
By Lisa Merrick-Lawless
On the couch with Gillian Anderson
The actress, 42, on The X Files, her teen rebel years and swapping Hollywood for London
You're about to star in a TV adaptation of the bestselling book, Any Human Heart, as the Duchess of Windsor. Did you spot any similarities between you?
I've been asked to play her a couple of times, which I imagine has something to do with me being an American living in London (like her, Gillian moved to the UK in 2002). I do look a bit like her but she's also a very serious and sour character, and I've certainly exhibited my ability to play those in the past.
You starred in The X Files for nine years. Did it become difficult to separate yourself from the character by the end of it?
When you're playing somebody for so long, the boundaries become blurred. It's hard for me to be objective about it. I tried to make Scully quite different from me because I'm more relaxed and infantile. My kids, on the other hand, (Piper, 16, Oscar, 4, and Felix, 2) would probably tell you I can very quickly switch to her level of seriousness.
Is it true that you had no interest in starring in a regular TV series until you came across Scully?
Yes, because I hadn't seen a woman like her in television before. She was a unique female character at the time because she was so independent and leading the show as a duo. It was only years later that I recalled the fact (the directors) always made me walk behind David Duchovny (who played Mulder) in scenes, because I was the woman!
Did you object?
At the time I was just happy to have work and I didn't want to rock the boat, but there did come a certain point where I decided it was not on.
You've admitted to being a rebellious teen. Why do you think that was?
I was an only child until I was 11, so I'm sure it was connected to that, but also living between London and Michigan. I felt like I didn't belong in either place.
When did you start to feel settled?
Probably around 18. I thought I should start figuring things out. It's been a long road though and continuous in a sense. There have been periods in my life where I've had a tendency towards self destruction but I've learned to work towards maintaining a balance.
You've been through two divorces but seem very settled in your current relationship (with Mark Griffiths, father of Gillian's two sons).
I am. We're a laughing, working, happy team and it's very solid and safe. I also feel very settled in London. In Los Angeles, it's hard to get away from talk of showbusiness and you feel like you have to present yourself in a particular way. Even the stuff I wear - motorcycle boots and lots of black - fits in here.
You gave birth to Piper during the height of The X Files but you've cut back on acting jobs in the past few years to raise your sons. Did you want to do things differently?
Yes, very much, although it feels harder being a more hands-on parent. It's very easy to have somebody else take care of your kids, but on the flipside you're not around for things. I can't remember Piper moving from her bottle to solid foods as a baby, which makes me sad.
Do you regret not being around?
I've been regretful about it, but it's happened and she's a fantastic adult. Or at least until she starts therapy!
You started seeing a therapist at 14. Do you still see one?
Yes. I can get very self-indulgent not really minding how I behave or treat my partner or kids, so it helps me be a better person. When people are under stress they can take things out on the people closest to them and sometimes you just need a third party to hash that stuff out with. I highly recommend it.