The Globe and Mail
After The X-files, actress Gillian Anderson got as far away as she could. But escape proved harder than she thought
LOS ANGELES - She'd gotten away. Put a whole hemisphere, in fact, between herself and all of those weirdoes.
But last winter, Gillian Anderson once again found herself trudging through the snows around Whistler, B.C., and chasing the uncanny about Vancouver.
They were finally filming The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the second movie spun off from the TV show about paranormal investigators Dana Scully (Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny); the film opened yesterday. The series ended in 2002, and Anderson soon relocated to England, where the Chicago-born actress spent nine years as a child. She's mostly been doing stage work and very British productions since: Tristram Shandy, The Last King of Scotland, a Masterpiece Theatre Bleak House series. Nothing with fangs or tentacles, thank you very much.
But after years of payment issues between X-Files creator Chris Carter and the show's financers Twentieth Century Fox, the call to head back Out There came. And Anderson was pretty happy to get it - until she re-addressed the Emmy-winning role she'd made such an effort to distance herself from.
"It was exciting from the moment when it looked like it might actually come to fruition, which, for a while, I didn't think it would at all," says the actress, who turns 40 next month. "That certainly carried me through travelling to Vancouver and being happy to see everybody again. But I just don't think that I anticipated that two back-to-back international flights mixed with having not played Scully for six years was going to trip me up as much as it did on the first couple of days.
"Once I got back under her skin again and we got into the swing of things, though, you slip back into the pleasure of doing this with people who you care about and trust."
Reuniting with her co-star of eight years and change (Duchovny sat out most of the final season) was the best part of it.
"We have a great fondness for each other and enjoy cracking each other up," Anderson says. "That's always been there, and that was the easy part. Showing up and doing those scenes with David was the most natural and comfortable aspect of all of it. There's so much history between the two characters and between the two of us, that's part of the joy of it."
British Columbia felt like home, too - because it sort of is. Anderson bought her first house in Vancouver when the series was shooting there, and still owns a getaway on one of the offshore islands.
"I think that there are parts of Canada that are breathtakingly stunning, and it's always been a very peaceful escape for me over the years," she says.
"It's something I've maintained for quite some years now and hope to continue to."
That said, Anderson really did have to get as far away as she could from anything associated with The X-Files once her commitment to the series ended.
"It was this new feeling I had of wanting to be part of the rest of the world," she explains. "As soon as it was over, I took off to Africa by myself for a little while. Then I holed up and did some writing, then went to London and did a play. It was all part of my bigger plan of exploring other worlds and other cultures, helping shake off some of the same-old, same-old that I'd been doing for nine years."
There were other changes as well. Anderson divorced her first husband, Clyde Klotz, one of The X-Files' art directors, while the show was still in production.
A second marriage to photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Julian Ozanne fizzled as well.
She quickly bounced back into a relationship with English businessman Mark Griffiths. The couple have a 20-month-old son, Oscar, and are expecting their second child.
"I raised an only child for many years," Anderson notes. "I've got a 13-year-old [daughter Piper, from her marriage to Klotz]. The experience of having a young one again later in life has been quite extraordinary; it almost felt like I suddenly earned the right to be a parent.
"My partner was an only child, and I think our desire was to not necessarily precipitate that once again on an offspring. The thought of being able to provide a companion for our current son felt like the right thing to do, and so I figured I'd do it."
Sounds so very, logically Scullyish, doesn't it? Asked whether nearly a decade of playing the highly educated, preternaturally rational half of the monster-chasing team has rubbed off on her, Anderson laughs off the notion. But then she thinks about it a little.
"I don't do things and mannerisms and go, 'Oh, that was kind of like Scully.'
"But by the same token, I don't know how much of me today wasn't influenced by the fact that I got to play her for such a long time. It's possible that there are aspects of my seriousness or my independence or my inquisitiveness that are somehow directly related to the fact that I lived with her for such a long time. But it's hard to quantify that."
It may be safe to say, though, that where The X-Files is concerned, you can never totally escape.