Buzzine Film Editor Emmanuel Itier sits down with X-Files star Gillian Anderson to talk about her life and career.
Emmanuel Itier: You look great. How are you feeling?
Gillian Anderson: I’m feeling great, thanks.
EI: Do you mind if I ask how many months pregnant you are?
GA: [Laughs] Yeah, sure. If I recall, I’m about six months. I’m very much pregnant.
EI: I noticed your gorgeous one-year-old son in the hallway with Mark. Did they come along today with you so you could all have lunch together?
GA: He kind of did. He really didn’t allow me to have lunch! [Laughs] He was very rampageous today. He’s normally… Well, he’s both, but he was particularly interested in tossing chairs and throwing things around today. [Laughs] But yes, he came to have lunch with me.
EI: Does he normally come to work with you? Do you often choose projects/work where he can come along?
GA: No, I haven’t tried to choose work so he can come along. He has come a little bit. My first child, who’s now 13, spent a huge part of her childhood in my trailer. I’m not that interested in repeating that scenario, even though there were good aspects of it, obviously, as well.
EI: Does she now want to be an actress like her mum?
GA: Fortunately, no. She’s very creative, but hopefully it won’t translate into that profession.
EI: Speaking of your daughter, in those ten years you worked on the show, your life was so influenced by The X-Files.
[On New Year's Day, 1994, Anderson married Clyde Klotz, The X-Files series assistant art director, on the 17th hole of a golf course in Hawaii as part of a Buddhist ceremony. A few months later came the news that she was pregnant. The X-Files creator, Chris Carter, created an alien abduction storyline that kept Anderson off-camera long enough for labor, delivery and a ten-day maternity leave. Daughter Piper Maru (for whom The X-Files episode, "Piper Maru," was named) was born by caesarean section on September 25, 1994, in Vancouver, Canada. Carter was named her godfather.]
EI: I already asked David this: What did it take to come back to this? You were both cultural icons, and you both only noticed how tired you were after it was over…?
GA: Well, you know, six years is a long time to pass in between… and we had the discussion quite early on that, were it to ever come to fruition, we’d all be on board for another film. And, you know, I think if they had approached me two years after it was done, I probably would have said no. But with six years passing and doing so many other things in between, both professionally and personally, it felt like it was good timing.
EI: David said you both did an interview together where you were asked how you have changed in the last six years. You said he wants to really be there now; what did he say about you?
GA: Oh, I can’t remember what he said… Oh yeah. He said I seemed happier. He said I seemed happier in my personal life.
EI: Do you think he’s right?
GA: Definitely. And a lot of that comes with so many different aspects, particular circumstances that I now find myself in, but also with age and a certain amount of acceptance and letting go, and an attempt to focus more on the positive things in life – keeping a more optimistic attitude about things, I think.
EI: Have you both kept in touch throughout this time, even though you have been living in London?
GA: Yeah. We keep in touch mainly by email, and sometimes when I’m in town we’ll go out for coffee or dinner or something.
EI: In this movie, Scully and Mulder are living together. I was shocked when I saw it. How did you react when you first read the script and found out you were together, and did you prepare in any particular way?
GA: The chemistry that’s been between David [Duchovny] and I was there the moment we started working together, and I don’t think has very much to do with either one of us. It certainly doesn’t involve much effort on our part. It’s just something that’s kind of there naturally and has often been there despite ourselves, no matter what moods we’re in, what was going on in our personal lives, no matter what we felt like on a particular day. When we were in a scene together, that chemistry was there, and so it didn’t really need any preparation at all. I don’t think I had any expectations when I read the script for the film. I think I’ve learned to let go of expectations in my life, in all different areas of my life. [Laughs] And I think I approached it with an open mind and have great faith in Chris [Carter] and Frank [Spotnitz] to place the characters in situations that are appropriate to the moment socially, politically, and in the fans’ favor. I also think they’ve done a tremendous job making the film appealing to people who don’t know much about the series or care very much about the series at all.
EI: You’ve done a great variety of work since The X Files finished. Why come back to Scully now?
GA: As I said, it was something that we kind of agreed upon when the series ended. It was always going to be a matter of something that was going to be fun for us all at the time, that fit best for us all sometime in the distant future, when we could all say we’d taken a long enough breath, and that it would be something of a reunion and fun.
EI: There’s a real development of the relationship (between Scully and Mulder) in the film that must have also been attractive, because that was so much more developed in the film than it was in the series.
GA: You know, nothing that the script has to offer was part and parcel in my decision. The decision was kind of done and concluded a long time before the script was even written. It was kind of like, yes, we’re on board when you deliver the script. You know, I don’t know what I would have done if the script sucked. [Laughs] I don’t know what I would have done, if I had the guts to say I’m not going to be the one that’s involved in this, but, fortunately, I didn’t have to face that.
EI: David described it as a love story and a thriller, especially regarding your relationship. Do you agree?
GA: Yeah. [Laughs] It’s got nothing to do with the two of us working together. It’s very much a strong part of the film and, I think, something that makes the film quite unique in that there are plenty of thrillers throughout history for us to draw on, but I can’t think of one where you have this kind of particular relationship – certainly not this kind of intense relationship. It’s almost like a marriage, in a sense. To have two people – even though we are not necessarily working side by side throughout the film – there is that intensity coming through with the line of the thriller at the same time, and the way they have weaved them both is quite unique.
EI: Have you had any supernatural experiences yourself?
GA: There have been a few times where I have walked into houses or buildings that are clearly not empty [laughs], that just have really eerie feelings to them – where you feel like you are not completely alone – but I think that’s the extent of my experiences.
EI: There haven’t been too many movies that have dealt with stem cell therapy. What is your take on that?
GA: It’s a very controversial issue and it’s something that I hope does spark a lot of discussion. I am pro-science and have a huge amount of faith, actually, in the potential for stem cell therapy to be useful to us as human beings on this planet. So there is a part of me that hopes, at some point, it will come to be. They are finding more and more ways for it to be less of a controversial procedure than it has been in the past, and it seems to have – from everything I know about it – a huge potential in terms of healing in this world. I hope it becomes more of a regular occurrence in the medical community than it has been so far.
EI: Can you talk about motherhood/raising children and what kind of affect it has had on you? Everyone says it changes your life. You have a 13-year-old, a 20-month-old, and you are about to have another. Does it change your life?
GA: Yeah, it does. It changes your life tremendously and in ways that, no matter how much anyone speaks about it, you never know until you are in the midst of it yourself. I’ve got friends who are completely paralyzed by it and friends who just kind of behave as if it’s a tiny little bump in the road. They take their kid to everything from clubs to mountain climbing, and some people can’t leave their house for six weeks. It just depends. [Laughs]
EI: Where are you?
GA: Kind of in the middle somewhere. It takes me a little while to leave the house again after giving birth, but I think my son has been on about 75 airplanes in his 20 months of being alive – his first one being at about two months old. You know, he’s been to Sri Lanka and India, and just all over the place – so many different countries.
EI: What’s the biggest challenge of motherhood?
GA: Patience [deep breath], I think.
EI: You became very famous fairly quickly all over the world through the TV show. Now you are older and have more experience. How do you look back at that now?
GA: It’s kind of surreal because, on the one hand, I know that was a part of my life, and on the other hand, I feel very separate from that and grateful that it’s not intense like it used to be. It’s fine when you’re 25 or 26, but I would truly not like it, as a mother of potentially three, to have that kind of intensity outside my door every day. That would not be my preference. I’m fascinated by the fact that it was even part of my life to deal with, and it is kind of odd and curious. At the same time, I’m very grateful that it’s a big responsibility as a young 20-year-old to carry that and to suddenly be looked up to for not very much, and also because of Scully and how independent, confident, strong, and courageous she was, that there were a lot of young women, especially, who looked up to me as a role model. It took me a little while to take that on board and to not be completely overwhelmed by that, or not feel in some way that I deserve it or I didn’t deserve it, to try and figure out a way that I could kind of make the most use of the opportunity. It was really an opportunity, you know.
EI: Is there a secret to your chemistry? Does having a break make it any easier/harder?
GA: The chemistry is just something that we had from the very beginning. We weren’t rehearsing outside the audition room together. It was just automatically there and nothing that we could study or put on…
EI: Have you experienced this kind of chemistry in any other films/projects you’ve worked on?
GA: It’s different. There are shades of it in other projects and films, but there’s just something different with David. That’s the unexplainable bit that I can’t quite put a finger on, and it’s kind of like it was a gift for us to have this experience together. But it’s not necessarily quantifiable.
EI: Have you ever consulted a psychic, or would you?
GA: I have and that’s all I’ll say. [Laughs]
EI: Was it worthwhile?
GA: Yes, it was. Definitely.
EI: Is your eldest child aware of the fame you had when the show was at its peak?
GA: Yeah, she’s very aware of it. She definitely understands it more than she used to when she was younger. She’s aware of it when we go somewhere and someone tries to take a picture or asks for an autograph.
EI: Do you still have lots of crazy fans coming up to you?
GA: There are many different kinds of fans out there, and I’m sure some of them can be qualified as being crazy, but most of them are just normal people who had a particular appreciation for the series, and the majority is respectful. I still get approached and still have people try to photograph me in public situations.
EI: How does your daughter react to that?
GA: I think she knows how fiercely I’ve tried to protect our family and to kind of separate her experience from the life of a celebrity. You know, she has seen me, in the past, approach people and ask them to not take pictures, or yell at paparazzi or whatever [laughs], so she is highly attuned to all that.
EI: Your home is England. Why do you choose to live in Europe instead of here?
GA: Because I love London, and it feels like a very comfortable city for me. I love the pace. I love the access to the culture. I love the quality of education for my daughter.