By Anthony Noguera
FHM jumps back into bed with poll-topping sex goddess Gillian Anderson
Six months ago, the world went Gillian Anderson mad. And like shit off a particularly slippery shovel, FHM's April issue flew off the news stands in record time. Since then, disappointed Anderson fans who failed to get hold of a copy have continued to plague the FHM offices with begging letters, death threats and bizarre swap requests in the vain hope of being sent a long since unavailable April issue. One hopeful American even sent an unsolicited cheque for $200. And though Gillian endearingly shrugs off the attention, claiming that The X-Files is the star, not her, it's worth noting that magazines with Agent Mulder actor David Duchovny on the cover are not doing the same volume of business.
Meanwhile, Gillian is still experiencing the aftershocks of that eye-opening, clothes-shedding cover story. "Almost everything I said in that FHM article has been taken so out of context in every area in the world," she says at her Vancouver home one September evening, after filming on The X-Files has wrapped for the day. "I can't believe how many articles have taken the piece and blown it out of all proportion."
These days, tired of answering the same old geriatric questions, she plain refuses to discuss her childhood ("It was just growing up"), her so-called 'punk days' ("Boring") and the loss of her cherry ("The biggest misconception about me that's grown up out of the FHM piece is that I lost my virginity to a Neo-Nazi. The truth is I lost my virginity to a guy who later became a Neo-Nazi. Which is not the same thing"). Yet one of the most entertaining responses to her decision to do the sexiest shoot of her career came from a highly unlikely source.
"Let me read you what my grandmother wrote to me," she says. "'Dear Gillian, I was very, very sorry to hear that you've run out of clothing. Maybe I should send you some money so you can buy a dress or two. I am going to plant a couple of fig trees so that in the future we will have plenty of fig leaves to cover you if you ever run out of clothing again. Loving you very much, but wondering why you stripped...'"
While The X-Files continues to pull in a huge audience, Gillian has also presented a documentary series about the strange and unexplained, and was recently nominated for an Emmy. To cap it all, FHM readers controversially voted her the Sexiest Woman in the World of 1996. "Isn't it weird?" she says. "I would have thought that Cameron Diaz would have won. It's so embarrassing."
So then, time for a re-match. Time to find out what the future holds for the sexiest 'tec on TV.
FHM: What was the first thing you thought when you saw your first FHM cover?
GILLIAN: I remember looking through the issue I was in and then two pages after me were all these plastic dolls in all these weird sexual positions and I thought, 'What the fuck is this? What have I got myself into?'
FHM: That was Barbie and Action Man demonstrating women's favourite sexual positions. But don't worry - they haven't got any genitals, so it's not pornographic.
GILLIAN: Oh, okay. I guess I wasn't looking closely enough. Even now, once in a while somebody will come up to me in the States and say, "My roommate has a copy of FHM - could you sign it for him?" And I remember someone else saying, "I was pissing in a toilet and sitting above the toilet was a magazine with you on the cover and I think it was called FH something or other." That was particularly memorable.
FHM: It was a phenomenally popular issue.
GILLIAN: Are you sure it wasn't just because I took my bloody clothes off? Haha! I've seen one picture from that shoot on the Internet that somebody has doctored where I am meant to have pulled my bra down to expose my breasts! They've put in these two implant-filled breasts in place of my not-so-huge non-implant ones. And it's meant to be real. My manager rang me and said, "Gillian, you didn't really do this, did you?" And there's another one where I look like I'm on-set and I'm sitting there with my legs open and you can see my knickers are showing. So naturally the first thing you think is, 'Oh my God, how did somebody get this picture,' and then I thought, 'Hang on, I never sit like that.' And I wear nylons anyway, so you wouldn't be able to see what I had or didn't have on underneath. But I kept thinking, 'When did I sit there with my legs open?'
FHM: What's the worst thing that's been written about you recently?
GILLIAN: A magazine in New Zealand said I was battling a serious disease. They said that I was battling anorexia and that I had a special diet and a trainer comes to my house five times a week. They quoted me saying I used to binge. I was on my way to Tahiti when I saw it in an airport. I can't believe that they can make these quotes up and get away with it.
FHM: Aren't you tempted to fire off a solicitor's note or something?
GILLIAN: Believe me, I very nearly sued them.
FHM: What did you film today?
GILLIAN: Well, we had a couple of scenes in a house where we were investigating a young woman who has disappeared and whose boyfriend's eardrums have been stabbed by a long, sharp object going into his brain. It turns out she has been kidnapped and has undergone a transorbital lobotomy. Which is basically a lobotomy that renders you unable to do anything. And tomorrow I get kidnapped by this guy who attempts to do the same thing on me. And of course, as is usual, Mulder saves my life.
FHM: After four series of near scrapes, you must be getting a bit bored with him saving your bacon?
GILLIAN: Yeah. I'd rather he was getting the lobotomy and I saved his life. But maybe that'll happen in the fifth series.
FHM: Do you wish you could kick ass on a more regular basis, then?
GILLIAN: Yeah, definitely. But I've kicked ass a couple of times in this series. One time in particular I kicked major ass. We were chasing this guy who sucks the fat out of women. And no, he wasn't given a medal. He was doing it to survive. In the process, he covered the women in this digestive enzyme. He tries to do the same to me and I kick his ass.
FHM: So now you're an all-action ass-kicking sex symbol?
GILLIAN: Haha! A sex symbol - that's so funny. I'm sitting here on my bed in jeans and a T-shirt, my daughter is playing downstairs and I've been working a very long day, and it sounds like such a strange thing for someone to say right now.
FHM: Is it true that, on a recent promotions trip to Australia, you got mobbed by a crowd of thousands and that some of them even had to be taken to hospital?
GILLIAN: Well, it was very strange because I was originally told we were going to do an in-store appearance and my experience with in-stores in the past had been from one in a small bookshop in Munich. When we turned up at the place and I realised it was a mall, I said, "What?!" because I don't do mall appearances. But they said I couldn't pull out because they were expecting a couple of thousand people. In the end, there were 12,000 people there. And, yes, it did get out of hand. Because of where Australia is, they don't get that many celebrities visiting, so when they do come, the people get so excited about it. I showed up as the representative of The X-Files and that's what the people were responding to. Maybe they thought I was the only one from the show who would make it there.
FHM: Isn't it more likely that they turned up just to catch a glimpse of you?
GILLIAN: I'd go insane if I thought that. If I honestly allowed myself to believe that 12,000 people would show up to see me, then I'd be somebody I'm not. There's a huge temptation in this business for people to allow stuff like that to go to their heads, so it's really important to keep it in perspective. It would be too much to handle if I started believing it. I try to be humble in the midst of everything and appreciate everything that's come my way.
FHM: Have you had time to do anything else since you shot The X-Files and Future Fantastic?
GILLIAN: No, it's really political over here switching between the networks, which is a real shame because I'd love to do an episode of Seinfeld. But we have done an episode of The Simpsons. We did it nearly two years ago but it's taken them longer than their normal six months to put the episode together - in fact, I think it's taken about a year and six months.
FHM: What happens in your Simpsons episode?
GILLIAN: As I recall, Homer sees a UFO and we come to town and try to help him figure out what it's all about. I love The Simpsons. It's just the ultimate accolade being on that show. It shows we've really arrived. That and being in Mad magazine. Oh yeah, and I also felt like I'd arrived when, after I'd done FHM, I got offered a Playboy cover! They called my manager when she was in the car with me. We had it on speakerphone. Unfortunately, Heff didn't ring, but apparently he is a big fan of the show. Actually, I've been invited to a party at Heff's house.
FHM: How much did Playboy offer you?
GILLIAN: A lot. But I turned them down.
FHM: For now?
GILLIAN: No. I turned them down. But it was very flattering, I must say.
FHM: Do you have a defining moment in the last year?
GILLIAN: I don't know if there's been a really defining moment, but when I came back to the show after I'd had a baby, I felt that throught the process of having a child I had matured in some way. There was a definite point in time when I felt I had a better hold on the character of Scully and felt I could do as an adult what I'd always wanted to do with my work. And when we had our annual hiatus from shooting and I met all these directors who I really respected, I felt strong and that I really had something to offer. When I was younger and I lived in Chicago and New York, I was struggling financially and emotionally, and although I had a relatively strong belief in myself, there were times when I questioned my abilities and my sanity about going into this field. And then in the first two seasons of The X-Files there were the questions about whether I could ever actually play another character except Scully. So to be able to go into these meetings and show a completely diff erent side of me was good.
FHM: Would you ever do anything to shock people, like getting a tattoo?
GILLIAN: How did you know that I got a tattoo?
FHM: I didn't. But I do now.
GILLIAN: You are so bad! Well, I got it in a very innocent place. On my inner right ankle. It was painful. It felt like I was at the dentist and they were drilling into my bone. I got it done in Tahiti, the birthplace of tattooing. It's like a tribal design - maybe two inches long and an inch wide. It's hard to describe what it looks like. This fabulous Polynesian guy called George who's tattooed over half his body did it. He's made his own equipment, which was like a sewing needle attached to an old electric razor with a ballpoint pen casing with a shish kebab stick through it. And he plugs it into this battery pack. He's very fast - it only took about ten minutes.
FHM: Hang on a minute - ballpoint pen? Old razor? Shish kebab? I'm presuming that George doesn't have a licence from his local council to do tattoos...
GILLIAN: Haha! Well, when I was having it done, I was thinking, "Why the fuck am I doing this?" But when it was done, I wanted another one done immediately - it's so addictive. If I get another one I'll have it below the small of my back or below my bellybutton. Part of me didn't want to have it done because tattoos are so common now - which is why I got rid of my nosering - but there's this real bonding thing with people who have tattoos.
FHM: Doesn't it cause a problem at work?
GILLIAN: We have skin tape which we just put over it. If it looks like my ankles are going to be in shot, then I'll just stick some on.
FHM: Have you ever considered any other form of skin decorating - scarification, maybe?
GILLIAN: No. But on my last birthday somebody gave me the option to have a body piercing anywhere of my choice. I haven't done that yet, but I am thinking about it. I have this little flap of skin at the top of my bellybutton which I guess some people do and some people don't, but it just seems such a perfect place to pierce. But I've never seen anyone with an 'outey' bellybutton pierced.
FHM: What about the much-mooted X-Files movie - are you definitely doing it?
GILLIAN: I just don't know anything about it. I don't think it's been written yet.
FHM: Well, Chris Carter recently said it would be shot between this series and the one after.
GILLIAN: Oh, really? Well it would have to be shot without me, haha!
FHM: What kind of other movie roles would you like to do?
GILLIAN: I'd love to do a comedy but I have a feeling the first movie I do will be quite serious and completely different from The X-Files. I just want to do something really challenging.
FHM: And if you could have played any part in any film, what would it have been?
GILLIAN: I'd have loved to have played Kate Winslet's character in Sense and Sensibility, or any of Helena Bonham-Carter's characters, or Patricia Arquette's character in True Romance. And Michelle Pfeiffer's character in Dangerous Minds. And almost anything Meryl Streep has done.
FHM: Has success changed you at all?
GILLIAN: Hmm. I'm not as tolerant as I used to be. I like my space. I don't like crowds on set. I'm less tolerant of signing autographs in the break I have between takes, and I'm less tolerant of people trying to snap pictures of me in the street. But basically I've stayed the same. I'm just here to do the work.
FHM: Has David Duchovny ever mentioned any of your great press?
FHM: Are you two still mates?
GILLIAN: Still? We're as we've always been: fine.
FHM: What about fan mail - have you noticed that you've been getting much more stuff through the post?
GILLIAN: Oh God, yeah! There used to be a manageable amount and now it's not manageable at all, and we haven't quite figured out how to remedy that. I can't see myself hiring somebody to fake signatures. I'd rather grab at a few when I get the chance and write a note myself.
FHM: Who do you hate?
GILLIAN: I've never been asked that before. I don't want to get into the actor realm because that's mean. I hate Neo-Nazis, bigots. Any kind of white supremacist group I despise. Child molesters.
FHM: Are you impressed by celebrities?
GILLIAN: I'm impressed by people who make a difference. People who are really good at what they do. People like Tim Robbins, Jodie Foster, Quentin Tarantino.
FHM: Who would you have been starstruck in front of?
GILLIAN: Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange. Or Gary Oldman, or Robert De Niro.
FHM: Your whole life revolves around working on The X-Files - do you ever go home after 16 hours on set and have X-Files dreams?
GILLIAN: Actually, no, it's something that's never happened. The only time I have nightmares is when I wake up knowing that I haven't prepared enough for the next day's shooting, but most of the time I don't. I sometimes have a hard time getting to sleep at night and I've realised that having the TV on makes me fall asleep easier because my brain is subconsciously conentrating on something else. But otherwise I don't watch television. I can watch myself now, but at first I couldn't and I can't go back and watch episodes. Once something has aired, I don't want to see it - it's passed and it's bad.
FHM: If you weren't on The X-Files, would it be the kind of show that you'd watch?
GILLIAN: I don't know. I've never been a regular TV-watcher and I don't suppose I'd have caught The X-Files. I don't think it's something that I'd watch regularly.
FHM: Would you rather people viewed the show as entertaining hokum or serious food for thought?
GILLIAN: I don't care either way, really. I think it's helped us enormously that people have though about it afterwards and found something in it - it's definitely helped in terms of the fans we have and the show's popularity, but I honestly don't give a shit how people perceive it. Whether they enjoy it intellectually or as a piece of entertainment is their business.
FHM: There are rumours that you and David Duchovny are tired of the show and don't want it to go on for much longer.
GILLIAN: I'd be happy for it to go on as long as it needs to, you know. I'm sure that the sixth and seventh year will be gruelling - if it ever goes on that long. I just hope that it's allowed to end when it needs to end, and it's not pushed beyond its expectations.
FHM: David Duchovny has said he would like to see The X-Files end with Mulder getting laid...
GILLIAN: By Scully, hopefully...
FHM: ...and then dying.
GILLIAN: I'd like it to end with us in bed together and having lost nine minutes of time, like in the pilot episode when there's time lost because of a UFO, and then wake up and not quite know what's taken place in those nine minutes that we've lost.
FHM: Surely you can't finally consummate your famously non-shagging relationship?
GILLIAN: Yes we can. If it's the end, we can.
Transcript appears courtesy of FHM Magazine.