The Untold Truth Of Gillian Anderson

Most probably know Gillian Anderson best from the Fox's longstanding cult sci-fi dramedy The X-Files or perhaps from The Fall, the British/Irish crime drama. No matter how you know her, actress Gillian Anderson is sure to have left an impression with her unique beauty, grace, and talent. 

As often happens when gorgeous, talented women do sci-fi, Anderson has enjoyed a dedicated male fan base over the last few decades. What's special, though, is that she has also become a feminist role model for her strong female lead roles and her extensive charity work. In 2016, Bustle declared her portrayal of The X-Files' Dana Scully to be "one of TV's greatest feminist role models." Furthermore, The X-Files changed TV, even if no one noticed at the time, and Anderson was a huge part of that.

And perhaps it's because she is the pinnacle of beauty and talent that she is very open with the fact that she has lived a less-than-perfect life. She is a TV, stage, and movie star (as well as a mother of three, as noted by The Guardian) who is brave enough to show her imperfections along with her beauty, and we love her for it!

Gillian Anderson was born in Chicago but raised in Britain

Gillian Anderson entered the world at a Chicago hospital in 1968, born to a computer analyst mother and a production company owner father. Although she was an Illinois baby, Anderson and her parents soon ended up in London for nearly a decade, where her father attended the London School of Film Technique.

Speaking to NPR in 2013, Anderson confirmed that her family moved back to the U.S. when she was 11, and she then went to an American high school. She then spent many years acting in projects in the United States and in Canada.

Anderson, who is one of many celebs who suddenly switch into different accents due to spending her childhood in different countries, has since lived in the UK for several years, and she considers herself to be both British and American. "In my mind, [London] was home," she told NPR, adding, "London was always going to continue to be in my life as an adult and I knew that."

Gillian Anderson has dated both men and women

When Gillian Anderson moved from the UK to Michigan at age 11, she "thought it would be a place of sunshine and happiness and candy bars." Instead, as the actress revealed in a 2012 interview with Out, her school years were not at all what she'd expected. 

Anderson told Out she was voted "Most Bizarre," based on how she "chose to look, dress, [and] behave." The star also shared that her high school relationships "were freaking people out," including a relationship she'd had with another girl.

When asked to clarify if she was referencing a lesbian relationship, Anderson responded, "Yeah, yeah, well it's... You know, I'm old enough that I can talk about that." Later, the star expounded on the revelation, revealing that she's had multiple relationships with women throughout the years. However, according to Anderson, the majority of her romantic relationships have been with men — and the actress has never felt the urge to make a "big deal" of her same-sex romances. 

"It's possible that my attitude around it came, on some level, from knowing that I still liked boys," Anderson told Out

Gillian Anderson was a teenage punk

In 2013, Gillian Anderson explained to NPR why she was voted "most likely to be arrested" in high school and why that prediction ended up coming true. "I got my nose pierced and I started to shave my head and dye my hair and wear a lot of black. And so I looked like somebody that might be arrested," she shared. "I was a bit of a class clown, usually the one that people would get to do the things that they were afraid to get in trouble for. So the mixture of those two things contributed, no doubt, to that vote." Do all class clowns grow up to be Emmy-winning actresses? Certainly not! But this one did.

She elaborated, "And, in fact, on graduation night, I was arrested." She said, "I had a boyfriend at the time who was a couple centuries older than I was and I'd convinced him that we should go and glue the locks of the school so that people couldn't get in in the morning. And lo and behold, they had a security guard because it was graduation night and they were concerned that idiots like me might try and do something like that."

Maybe it's because she lived a varied, imperfect life as a teenager (let's face it, she wasn't exactly America's sweetheart back then) that she's able to play complicated characters now with such believability.

Gillian Anderson never meant to be a TV star

Gillian Anderson told Express in 2014 that she never intended to work in TV. Her education and most of her experience was in stage acting. "First of all I swore I'd never move to Los Angeles and once I did I swore I'd never do television," she shared.

However, after a move to NYC (in her what she told Variety was her "parents' old VW Rabbit," no less) in order to try to make it on stage, she had her first major break in the theater world. A 1991 issue of The New York Times reported on her "groundbreaking" stage performance as Evelyn in Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends. After this early success, she moved to Los Angeles (with a guy) and began auditioning for films. "It was only after being out of work for almost a year that I began going to TV auditions," she told Express. She had one or two small successes in film (including her leading performance in the 1992 Puopolo-directed movie The Turning), but The X-Files catapulted her career.

Gut feelings from both her and show creator Chris Carter clinched the deal and made sci-fi history, even though network executives presumably wanted more of a bombshell actress. But Carter "fought tooth and nail" to cast her, as Anderson told the Chicago Tribune.

Gillian Anderson is incredibly selective with the roles she takes

The tale of how Gillian Anderson landed her "big break" reads as if it was ripped from the pages of a Hollywood storybook. As revealed in a January 2018 interview with Variety, Anderson moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to try and make a career for herself as a film actress. After several failed auditions, Anderson eventually landed a one-episode guest role on the Fox show Class of '96 — a one-off part that would help land her the role of Dana Scully soon after. 

After The X-Files came to an end in 2002, Anderson went on a mission to prove her range. Since then, she's appeared in popular shows like Bleak House and American Gods, the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, and a 2016 stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire

As Anderson told Variety, she doesn't accept just any role tossed her way; she'll only consider accepting a role if it "excites [her] creatively" enough to take her away from her family. Added Anderson, "I've got to feel that it's going to be challenging and different enough from what I've done before."

Gillian Anderson and co-star David Duchovny had instant chemistry

If you're an X-Files fan, you know that characters Mulder and Scully are famous for whipping fans up into a "shipping" frenzy, as noted by Gizmodo. And if you ever let your geek flag fly, then you know this means that fans desperately hoped for a romantic relationship between the two characters... and between the two actors off the screen, too.

While we won't give you too many spoilers about the fate of the TV duo, fans have been disappointed to hear that, although they are now good friends, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny never got together in real life. Duchovny once told TV Line, "The whole thing about Gillian and I dating is so weird. It's never happened, it's not going to happen, we're friends."

In fact, while they are friends now, during the show's run from 1996 to 2002, they sometimes fought openly onset. Anderson famously compared their relationship to a "forced marriage," saying (via Uproxx), "Did David and I hate each other? At times yes like any brother and sister, husband and wife, co-worker and co-worker forced to spend that much time together under such strenuous circumstances."

Gillian Anderson hid her pregnancy while filming Season 2 of The X-Files

According to Gillian Anderson's official website, when she unexpectedly became pregnant with her and X-Files assistant art director Clyde Klotz's child, after the end of the show's first season, producers weren't sure if they were going to recast the role or write her pregnancy into the script. "My feet were swelling and I was exhausted, sleeping between scenes," Anderson is quoted as saying on her website.

The forces behind the show ended up attempting to conceal her pregnancy with some fancy shooting angles and some baggy trench coats, and it's debatable whether or not this tactic worked. Fans may remember a series of early episodes where Scully wore a lot of giant clothes, and looked a bit... rounder than usual. "The contrivance gave Anderson space for an abbreviated maternity leave (just for a single episode, '3')," Vulture reported.

Gillian Anderson's pregnancy inspired this X-Files storyline

Inspired by Gillian Anderson's need for a short maternity leave, producers and writers came up with the idea that Scully should be abducted by aliens, which ended up sparking a major storyline that drove the plot during the entire rest of the show and provided a reason for Anderson's absence, as noted by Express.

What's really unique is that, in Season 2's sixth episode, "Ascension," the show used footage of Gillian Anderson's real pregnant belly to represent bizarre tests the aliens were supposedly conducting on her during her abduction. In a fan Q&A that was originally posted to Anderson's official webpage in 2002, she lists filming the scene as her answer to the question of her most memorable X-Files moments.

"Shooting the scene where Scully's stomach is pumped with air in an abduction sequence and trying not to reveal that it was actually a pregnant belly being shot. I'll have to show that scene to [daughter] Piper one of these years."

Gillian Anderson helped The X-Files become an institution

Nine seasons, two movies, and a revival season later, fans still fawn over Gillian Anderson's graceful and compelling rendition of medical doctor and FBI Agent Dana Scully on The X-Files. In fact, many sources over the years have proposed that it is the compelling relationship between Mulder and Scully that kept the show afloat and so beloved over the years.

For instance, The Washington Post published an article in 2016 saying that the biggest conspiracy among fans of the X-Files over the years was whether or not Anderson and David Duchovny were dating in real life, suggesting that the way these characters interacted on screen became one of the major reasons why fans tuned in week to week.

Anderson received several award nominations for her performance as Scully over the years, and she brought the show further attention after her 1997 Golden Globes win for best performance by an actress in a television drama, as well as primetime Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.

It wasn't always easy for Gillian Anderson to get into character on The X-Files

Dana Scully might be one of the most universally beloved television characters in pop culture history. However, according to the actress behind Scully, playing the famously skeptical secret agent for The X-Files' whopping nine-season run was harder than it seemed. 

In a January 2018 Esquire interview with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, the X-Files stars opened up about the difficulties of playing the same characters for years. "In the thick of it there were times when I'd call up [creator Chris Carter] and I'd say, 'I don't know how many more ways to be skeptical. I really I can't say this again. I just don't have it in me,'" Anderson recalled. The actress continued, admitting to Esquire that her struggle to get into character sometimes prevented her from seeing Scully as the important, iconic television character fans knew and loved. 

"There were definitely times where I was struggling with Scully, and I was not appreciative of the very essence of who she was because of that fact," Anderson revealed to Esquire.

Gillian Anderson kicked butt in The Fall

If you haven't yet seen Gillian Anderson's starring performance as The Fall's Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson — a role that, according to The Telegraph, was written with her in mind — then it's time to stream it! Amy Sullivan for The Atlantic famously called The Fall "the most feminist show on television," and we'd have to agree.

"Refreshingly, none of the tropes we've been trained to expect in a story about a powerful woman play out. Nobody resents Gibson's appearance on the scene or questions her authority," Sullivan said. "Her gender is a non-issue; subordinates hop to when she enters a room and they follow her commands without question. Gibson doesn't try to submerge her femininity and stomp around barking out orders. In Anderson's restrained yet compelling performance, Gibson is cool, calm, and always chic, with the most fabulous coat in detectivedom." Way to go, Gillian!

Gillian Anderson is a badass activist

Gillian Anderson has long been a mouthpiece for amazing organizations supporting women, children, and other vulnerable populations. In addition to routinely using her own Twitter account to speak out for activist organizations such as Taught Not Trafficked, which has worked to end human trafficking and provide education to young women and children around the world, her longtime support and advocacy for women has recently culminated in a new sort of feminist guidebook for women on "how to live a meaningful life" from Simon and Schuster.

WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere is by Anderson and her longtime friend, journalist Jennifer Nadel, and is "an uplifting, timely, and practical manual for creating change in women's lives, with nine universal principles that help you confront life's inevitable emotional and spiritual challenges."

The book also asks readers to question, "How much more effective and powerful would we all be if we replaced our current patterns of competition, criticism, and comparison with collaboration, cooperation, and compassion?"

Gillian Anderson has a tumultuous relationship with the paparazzi

Paparazzi encounters are inevitable when you're someone as famous as Gillian Anderson. However, while invasive photographers and flashing camera lights may come with the territory, Anderson refuses to normalize the paparazzi in her own life. 

In a September 2019 interview with The Guardian, the actress opened up about constantly being followed by hungry photographers during the height of The X-Files' success, all while trying to navigate both fame and being a new mom. "I couldn't take my daughter to the park without long lenses and stuff," Anderson told the publication. She continued, saying, "If that were the case [in the UK], I would not live here. I cannot stand it."

Anderson further explained her desire for privacy to The Guardian, recalling that the private life she experienced in her formative years was actually "quite public." According to the actress, living in the UK means not having to worry about photographers showing up at her own home to ambush her. As Anderson tells it, the paparazzi has often put a serious damper on her career. "It's that part of it that has made me really hate the business that I'm in, at times," the actress told The Guardian

Gillian Anderson considers herself a woman's woman

Best known for her portrayal of The X-Files' Dana Scully — the character widely seen as a feminist icon – Gillian Anderson herself is a real-life hero to women everywhere, which should come as no surprise. And, as revealed in a September 2019 interview with The Guardian, Anderson takes particular pride in this praise.

"I do feel like a woman's woman, and I go out of my way to be one," Anderson, who's just one of many actresses who've fought for equal pay, told the publication. She continued, saying, "And actually, I get so shocked and shaken when I come across women who aren't. It really unsettles me."

In March 2017, Anderson and journalist Jennifer Nadel released their book We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, described on Simon & Schuster's website as "an uplifting, timely, and practical manual for creating change in women's lives." When asked in a 2017 interview with Grazia Daily what she hoped a 22-year-old woman might learn by reading the book, Anderson responded, "That it's OK for her to be herself, no matter what that is — her color, the nature of her skin and hair, her size, her sexual preference." Continued the star, "I'd want her to know that however she comes is enough."

Getting older is something Gillian Anderson has tried to embrace

While being a universally celebrated and beloved public figure may sound like a dream come true for many, Gillian Anderson will be the first to tell aspiring actors that fame is far more complicated than some glitzy, glamorous portrayals seem to purport. For example, as Anderson revealed in an eye-opening February 2019 Vogue profile, seeing oneself onscreen can be quite the emotional journey. According to the star, seeing herself age on film has been particularly traumatic. 

"If you watch yourself on film, there is a certain point you see yourself ... change. It's arresting," Anderson told Vogue, revealing that she'd once spent a whole day in the late aughts crying over the "cruelty" of aging. The star continued, "It can either be completely traumatic or something that instigates a shift of consciousness towards thinking about what's important. But you have to go through that trauma first, to mourn."

Fortunately, Anderson has now seemingly accepted the inevitability of growing older. The actress offered up her best advice on how to combat insecurity surrounding the aging process, telling Vogue, "The thing to remember is, how one looks in the mirror is the youngest one will ever look again." Added Anderson, "So you can't do anything but celebrate it!"

Gillian Anderson's come a long way

So how does a teenage troublemaker (who said she once didn't brush her hair for about four years) turn into the graceful, international award-winning, philanthropist, awesome mother, and badass activist we know her as now?

Gillian Anderson's journey has been long, but full of heart and generosity toward others. We love you, Gillian!