Gillian Anderson will never escape being Dana Scully, her paranormal-seeking character on The X-Files. “I met an Australian aboriginal shaman in Italy,” she recalls, “and he started with the fact that his wife was from another planet.”
But the 43-year-old actress has moved on to more terrestrial pastures and is now playing the forlorn Miss Havisham in PBS Masterpiece’s Great Expectations (April 1 and 8, 9 p.m. ET; on DVD April 3). She tells Mary Margaret the three words that describe her best are “busy, stressed, and goofy.”
PARADE Aren’t you too young to play Miss Havisham?
That’s everybody’s first reaction, but the woman who played her in David Lean’s  production was only three years older than I am. I think that makes it a more interesting, devastating story—there is still hope for her, yet she chooses to be stuck in her heartbreak.
How do you feel about aging? Would you consider plastic surgery?
Every once in a while I think there’s got to be a way you can have a tiny little nip no one can see. But that’s probably what everybody thinks—that it’s going to be seamless, and it’s not. I’m waiting for technology to catch up so you won’t be able to tell.
You call London home now. What are your Sundays like?
I try to keep my sons [ages 3 and 5, with her partner, businessman Mark Griffiths] in bed until 7 a.m., and then we’ll either have breakfast downstairs or go out. My daughter [17, from her marriage that ended in 1997] gets a reprieve, since sometimes that’s her only morning to sleep in. Then, depending on the weather, we’ll go to a park or an indoor jungle gym.
Are you a big cook?
Cooking wasn’t a part of my family life. We helped ourselves and ate standing over the kitchen sink. But now I experiment from time to time. I make a few lamb dishes and a prawn Thai curry à la Jamie Oliver. And there is one way I make roast chicken. I don’t need to look for any other way of making it.
You were a rebellious teen. Does that streak still surface?
Even though I can dress up like a soccer mom, the punk rocker will forever be under my skin. A manager once told me to smile for the paparazzi. I thought, screw that! Playing along [with intrusive press] is perpetuating something I don’t think should be legal.
I thought you were going to mention your tattoo.
I actually have three. There are two tortoises back to back on my ankle. I got them in Tahiti and they represent peace of mind. Then I have one on the scar from an ectopic pregnancy I had years ago. And on my wrist is one of the eight limbs of yoga.
Do you see yourself in your daughter?
We are very, very similar—much to her chagrin. She’s constantly saying, “Mom, I’m doing this just like you!”
What advice do you give her?
To be true to what she’s feeling. I followed boys instead of following my own dreams and passions. That has been my advice to her—and whoever else will listen.