Since her breakthrough role in long-running sci-fi drama The X-Files in the ’90s, GILLIAN ANDERSON has captivated audiences of both screen and stage – most recently stepping into the shoes of Margaret Thatcher in The Crown. HANNA FLINT meets the actor to talk about the invaluable lessons of 2020, self-growth and why this lady is for turning.
It’s a sunny autumn afternoon in London’s Hyde Park and Gillian Anderson is doing a spot of birdwatching. We’re really here to discuss her latest role in The Crown’s season four, of course, in which she plays the formidable first British female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. But, every so often, the British-American actor becomes mesmerized by the creatures in the Serpentine lake. “Look at what that swan’s doing with its feathers!” she exclaims. “Sorry, but look at what the brown one is doing – it’s making a heart shape.”
Anderson is admittedly no student of ornithology – there’s a struggle to remember the names of some of the birds on view – but she did have a childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist. Now, the idea of even playing one would be a nightmare. “I wouldn’t want to get wet is the truth of the matter,” she says. “It’s definitely got to the point now where there are things I would refuse to do. A friend of mine was potentially going to be in the movie Everest, but I remember thinking at the time, ‘Oh God, imagine what that would entail!’ I’m just not that person.”
So, what kind of person is Anderson? As a much-celebrated actor, she has won several awards for playing Agent Dana Scully in the popular sci-fi series The X-Files, and earned further acclaim in The Fall as detective superintendent Stella Gibson, and then more recently in Sex Education as glamorous sex therapist Jean Milburn.
She’s a proud Londoner, too, having lived in the capital for most of her adult life. And she’s evidently an animal lover, given how many times the conversation has been interjected by a diving cormorant or a swimming Labrador. Privacy is very important to her, and she prefers to keep her family life to herself – although she isn’t afraid to share some funny personal truths. For instance, she turned down an offer to launch her own Sex Education-inspired sex-toy line: “I can’t remember why I said no.” And there was the time, many years ago, when she pitched a video-sharing idea to a woman who helped set up Google and Facebook. It turned out the idea already existed and was about to be launched as YouTube. “That was the last time I shared any bright ideas about tech,” the actor chuckles.
In the cold light of day, Anderson, who is 52 years old and currently makeup-free, looks as radiant as she’s ever been seen on screen during the past 30 years. Anderson cares about her looks (she points out that she had her roots done that morning, ready for some impending filmed press engagements), but is somewhat self-deprecating about how she’s managed to find a loophole in the aging process. “I’ve heard from my mum, my whole life, that my great-grandma Rose had really good skin, but I often fall asleep in my makeup, and whenever I do a photo shoot, everybody always points out that my skin is really dry.”
While the actor is modest about her appearance, she’s confident about the roles she wants to play and, really, who can blame her? “It’s different now than even 10 or 15 years ago,” she says. “[Then] a woman my age, at least in television, would be struggling to find something, but now there seems to be a plethora of rich roles.” With characters like A Streetcar Named Desire’s Blanche DuBois, Margo Channing of All About Eve and now Margaret Thatcher under her belt, she confesses, “It’s hard not to get a little picky.”
Gillian looks so gorgeous in this photoshoot! Scans from the March 2019 edition of British Vogue have now been added to the gallery; link & previews are below, enjoy!
– Vogue (UK) – March
I’ve added digital scans from The X-Files feature & small interview with Gillian that’s currently inside ‘TV & Satellite Week’ magazine, to celebrate the UK premiere of The X-Files — which shall be airing on Channel 5, from next Monday, February 5! Gallery link & previews are below, enjoy!
TV & Satellite Week (UK) – February 3-9
It was revealed on Twitter that David & Gillian are once again gracing the covers of TV Guide magazine as our favourite duo, Mulder & Scully. The issue is dated December 25, 2017 – January 7, 2018 so be sure to keep your eyes peeled! As always, scans shall be added to the site once the issue is available.
— The X-Files (@thexfiles) December 20, 2017
Digital scans from Gillian’s cover feature on the April issue of Red (UK) magazine have now been added to the gallery; link & previews are below, enjoy!
Red (UK) – April
Gillian was featured in the December issue of Harper’s Baazar (UK) with the nomination of ‘Television Icon’ during the 2016 Women of the Year awards. The (gorgeous!) photoshoot was already in the gallery; I’ve now added scans. Enjoy!
Harper’s Bazaar (UK) – December