Gillian Anderson, a complete X-File
The actress didn't want to do television and the famous series of the 90s condemned her to success. After a partial retirement, she has been reborn, more sophisticated but just as elusive in The Fall.
By Brenda Otero y Cristina Perez-Hernando
S Moda, El Pais: July 19, 2014
There is something in her similar to a Hitchcock heroine. The elegance, the inquisitive gaze, an apparent coldness that hides volcanoes. It's hypnotic to watch how Gillian Anderson (Chicago, USA, 1968) poses in front of the camera. The same thing that happens in her work as an actress, she conveys much doing little. Since Gillian Anderson conquered us as the redhead and skeptical FBI Dana Scully in the X-files series, she has been considered a cult performer. Enigmatic and difficult to classify.
After nine years and 202 episodes in one of most successful programs worldwide, she moved to London. Partly out of love and in part because she was captivated by the city when she lived in it as a child with her parents. There, she's had children, married twice, separated from others and worked doing theater. We follow her trail through television adaptations of novels by Dickens, among others, and films such as The Last King of Scotland and Shadow Dancer.
She had not completely disappeared from the face of Fame, but she missed it. At the age of 45, Anderson is experiencing a rebirth in popularity. She is the star of the critically acclaimed BBC series The Fall, whose second season will premiere in Autumn and participates in other US television programs like Crisis and Hannibal.
The small screen has given her everything professionally, but she started in it by chance. At the age of 21, she moved from Chicago to New York. In the Big Apple she became seasoned on stage while earning a living as a waitress. But she fell in love with someone from Los Angeles. She went to visit him and stayed - she has always ended up moving to follow her heart. And, after auditioning for The X-Files, she found herself playing one of the most emblematic characters of the story. "It never was my intention to work in television", explains Anderson with a serious voice and accent between American and British. "It happened and I had to enter into a friendship with the medium."
Two decades of 'The X-Files'. The television phenomenon of the 90s paved the way for the success of the HBO network and the golden age of the series. "Everything has changed a lot. When I started, it was very different. There was limited supply, there weren't many channels and programming used to be shabby by our current standards. I was fortunate to be part of a series that opened doors/viewpoints. Since then, the medium began to transform itself and is now receiving a lot of money. With the funds came the diversity that we enjoy today."
She still observes the enormous small screen success with ambivalent feelings. On the set of The X-Files she fell in love with the art director of the series, her first husband, and became pregnant. But she had to return to work 10 days after giving birth. For a decade, she devoted her life to the cathodic box: "the weight rested on two actors, we recorded 22 episodes a week. That is too much. She didn't do much more than work. And my daughter grew up in my trailer, something I never would have wished. After that, I knew that if I accepted another role in a series, it would have be short and as part of an ensemble cast, in order to be present in my life as a mother". Anderson has an 18 year old daughter, Piper, and two sons of 7 and 5, called Oscar and Felix.
But 'The Fall' arrived. This took her out of partial retirement. The character of police agent Stella Gibson was written with her in mind, and it fits her like a glove. Gibson is a sophisticated, intelligent and seemingly cold woman who investigates crimes against women and, at the same time, redefines the traditional gender roles. In one of the episodes she presses the police force to stop classifing women as saints or whores. "Stella is feminist", states Anderson. "It is probably the strongest role that I've played so far. She does not get tired of defending equal rights; in particular, when she talks about the victims".
Set in Belfast, The Fall also explores our deepest fears and delves into the shadows of apparently peaceful lives. It is common for viewers to comment on the nightmares that the series have given them. Anderson carries the presence of the abyss with professionalism. "You have to distance yourself from the material in order to work. I did the same with The X-Files. I'm good at compartmentalizing, although sometimes I decide not to read the scripts at night so as not to dream about them."
But amidst so much darkness, it is impossible to not notice the unconventional beauty of Anderson, her luminous skin and, above all, the magnificent silk blouses that have become a hallmark of the character. Did you have something to do with characterization? "It was in the script," says the actress. "The clothes fit the character. Stella dresses for herself, is a person with taste and her appearance matters to her. It is not a wink/nod to fashion", she explains.
However, she has changed a lot from the nondescript suits that Scully wore. "I'm aware of that," she says between laughs. "In those days, I was not concerned about clothing. I was partly to blame. I don't have much time to devote to fashion, but I gradually learned to appreciate it as an art, to admire the pieces well made".
Today she shows off a spacious bag from Celine, but this ex-punk has never relied on the red carpet to propel her career. "I have observed cases. Emma Stone is an example that comes to mind. She wore a beautiful red dress at a gala and perception about her began to change. His profile rose". She does not criticize this, but she's concerned the industry depends more and more on external factors to get ahead. "The actors should be hired for their talent. Each year it is harder to make movies. Releases have been polarized between productions with large budgets or very little, there is much less space for medium-sized films, so they hire who they think will help in the production," she adds.
As a performer, she has preferred not to pay homage to Hollywood and finds it difficult to participate in the promotion game in front of the media. "Television interviews left me petrified", she said. "I tend to go off on a tangent, it is my way of speaking", she explains. "Today, promotion to sell the film is part of the contract, but I'm bad at giving juicy quotes".
She also doesn't care much for social networks. She prefers to communicate with their fans directly through her website, which publishes her personal book and music recommendations, promotes solidarity-based initiatives and corrects journalists. She has also used it to settle speculation about her rejection of roles in major TV series in which, much later, other actors have triumphed, or the discussions generated about her relationship with another woman. "I do it when my point of view has been misrepresented. I've had perfectly pleasant conversations, like this one, but when published are presented very differently. It has been painful for other people. I have never regretted what I said. It is the interpretation, caused by the prejudices of others, that has bothered me.
Maybe all these speculations are attempts to solve the mystery that is Gillian Anderson. She, however, has never thought of herself that way. "I don't feel mysterious when I'm in pajamas or when I go to pick up my children from school". And, with these words, she kindly says goodbye to the S fashion team. In a moment, she has already disappeared.