February 20, 1994
I Want to Believe
by Lynn Elber
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Gillian Anderson has made believers out of fans of "The X-Files.'' Anderson, who stars in the Fox TV series as an FBI agent assigned to cases with an otherworldly aura, may not be convincing viewers that UFOs or mutant serial killers really are out there.
But she's helped prove that a television role that allows a woman to be smart, professional, and the equal of her male partner does exist.
The chance to play FBI Special Agent Dana Scully was the series' key attraction, Anderson says.
"The X-Files,'' a surreal blend of crime-busting and science fiction, airs at 9 p.m. (EST) on Fridays.
"I was reading something that for the first time in a long time involved a strong, independent intelligent woman as a lead character,'' she said by telephone from Vancouver, British Columbia, where the show films.
"I've gotten quite a few letters from young girls saying I'm a role model, and this is probably one of the best compliments I could get as an actor,'' Anderson said.
"It's terrific because of what the character represents: honesty, justice, hard work and dedication and passion -- and if that's what they're tapping into, that's fantastic.''
The petite, red-haired actress has yet to come to grips with her own sudden status as a TV heroine. Trained in the theater, she stepped before a camera for only the third time when she filmed "The X-Files'' pilot episode.
"Let me tell you about tension and stress,'' Anderson recalls. "I was a mess. It's taken me a while, and I'm still learning every single day I work.''
The 5-month-old series, which co-stars David Duchovny as agent Fox Mulder, has been deemed a success by the network in a tough Friday time slot. It's been renewed for next season.
I had a very good feeling that this show would be successful,'' Anderson says. ``But I don't think it's really even hit me yet. Once in a while I'll be driving down the street in Canada and think, `I'm in Canada. How did I get here?'''
The show's long work hours and location also have conspired to keep the 25-year-old from feeling the full impact of jumping from TV unknown to series lead.
"I'm not out much,'' Anderson says. "I work and I go home. I work on the scripts. I wake up and come to work. And in between I try to get my bills paid.''
(She did find time to marry since beginning the series, but has put a "classified material" label on any details)
The very polite Canadians who recognize her from the show, which airs there, tend to keep their distance, Anderson says. But even discreet recognition can be unnerving to a fledgling TV star.
"There is something vulnerable about being in the public eye, to a certain degree,'' she says. "Having that feeling, hearing `Scully' whispered as you pass people. It reminds you constantly that you're not in your private little world.''
Despite a bit of sexual tension between Scully and Mulder, don't expect the series to forsake action for romance.
"The show's not about that,'' Anderson says. "We have a good rapport on film together. I think to tamper with something that's not broken is perhaps a mistake.''
Transcript appears courtesy of The Associated Press.