June 30, 1996
Star Prefers Some Space
by Michael Idato
As Agent Dana Scully on TV's The X-Files, Gillian Anderson has faced all manner of supernatural creatures. But in the real world she is intensely private. When she met her Sydney fans, Michael Idato was at her side.
When asked what "fame" means to her, the answer is fired faster than you would ever expect.
"Suffocation," Gillian Anderson says, and laughs, her smile barely masking the bittersweet honesty in which the word is proffered.
Anderson, surrounded by the trappings of fame, is equally constructed by them. The important thing about being behind a limousine door, or a locked hotel lift, or a security guard, is that you're always hiding behind something.
And one thing is certain, from the moment FBI Agent Dana Scully opened her first X-File, Gillian Anderson was, and remains, locked behind all of the above.
And she doesn't like it.
"When I think of fame I think of the catch-22 nature of it," Anderson says. "I think of the benefit and the desire to be recognised for one's work and respected within the community and that's about where the line has to be drawn for me."
Anderson is, by her own admission, an intensely private person. The idea of inviting a journalist into a day in her life is clearly a disquieting one.
The suggestion there could be hundreds, even thousands, of fans waiting outside to mob her seems almost terrifying.
"I tend to be very private, so I don't get off on the paparazzi following you around, or the intrusion aspect of it. Or being in places where there are lots of people. I don't like big crowds."
Outside, there is just that. A crowd which has climbed studio walls to get a glimpse of the star. At a radio station earlier, the crowd was thin. But by the time the limousine is purring towards the Midday Show, scores of fans line the road. And that is the double edged sward of fame on which she sits.
"If you're in a vulnerable state of mind in any way, it can be incredibly intrusive and disorienting to place yourself in a situation where there are hundreds of people who want your attention and want you to live up to their standards," she says. "It gets emotionally exhausting."
Later, 10,000 fans turn up to an in-store appearance in Brisbane. And yesterday at Westfield Miranda, thousands more jostled for a glimpse of the star during her "meet the fans" session.
Neither Anderson nor her co-stars expected The X-Files to be a hit. "I don't think that any of us thought the show was going to go on for more than a year," she says. "I didn't know when I started working on the show that it was going to entail what it does in terms of shooting time, in terms of the special effects, in terms of the physical aspect."
For Anderson, the day begins around sunrise with breakfast in the company of her close friend Bonnie Hay, her daughter Piper and the child's nanny.
Still in the early morning, she meets with publicists Kristen McGrath and Jane Nagel, one from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and the other Foxtel - Anderson's two hosts during her visit to Australia.
All the while Andrew Tatrai, her security guard (whose clients include Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer and Joan Collins) is on duty outside her hotel suite.
But despite her calm, Anderson is capable of playing the tough guy when the moment presents itself. The night before, at the Rocky Horror Party at Planet Hollywood, she found herself under the scrutiny of one photographer's lens.
After letting him fire off several rolls of film on her, a hand is raised and a single, stern, Scully-esque glance is all he needs to get the message that she wants some space.
"There are certainly areas where I have to completely draw the line," she says. Her husband Clyde Klotz and precious daughter Piper are shielded from the press at all times.
As Anderson arrived in Australia, one journalist asked her, "why isn't your daughter with you?" to which she replied: "She is, we're just protecting her from you guys."
For Anderson, the key to surviving the gruelling demands of working on The X-Files and her responsibility to a global legion of fans is to keep her hears open.
"I guess, trying to listen to myself and sense when I need time," she says "I have a tendency to run myself ragged."
The same drive which compels her to lay down the law with her minders also compels her to make sure no-one's TV-inspired impression of FBI Agent Dana Scully is tarnished in any way when they meet the equally strident Gillian Anderson.
And the day isn't without it's difficult moments. A satellite interview with New Zealand is almost terminated because of technical difficulties, although you are left with the distinct impression that the interviewer's preoccupation with a fictitious romance between the happily-married star and her single co-star David Duchovny has left her unsettled.
It's an oft-asked question, an oft-proffered answer, and a rumour as without foundation as the one about Michael Jackson and that infamous oxygen sleeping tube.
"People ask me what it's like working with David," she says. "I guess the most obtuse question I was asked in that regard, was: 'David's such a sex symbol- ... what's it like working with a god?' How could somebody answer that question? In fact the truth behind Anderson and Duchovny's off screen relationship is perhaps as cool as the Vancouver woods in which they shoot the edgy spook opera.
They are friends, but not really close friends. They rarely see each other outside of work, which probably helps fuel their inexplicable but undeniable screen chemistry.
"I think we've found that it (spending time apart) is necessary, because we spend so much time working together, that if we're to be civil with each other whatsoever we need space once in a while," Anderson says.
"It's the same with any kind of relationship. We have very different private lives. I have a family and a daughter with whom I want to spend time, and he has his circle of friends."
When Anderson returns to Vancouver, she will take one memorable gift from Australia. After snorkeling in Bali before coming to Sydney, Anderson went diving with sharks - an experience she found breathtaking, exciting, frightening and liberating.
"As soon as I put my head under the water for the first time, there was so much to see it was like overload." A little like the actor now grappling with the tag of modern day icon, facing those thousands of fans.
Transcript provided by Medellia and appears courtesy of the Sunday Telegraph.