] September 1994
by James Glave
She is a cult heroine on the tube and the Net, but in real life Gillian Anderson hasn't quite figured out fame, yet.
On the set of The X-Files in North Vancouver, Gillian Anderson tilts back in her reclining make-up chair and does what she has perhaps never done before a television camera: laugh. It's a vibrant, burbling giggle that fans of Dana Scully, her sensible-yet-appealing character from the show, may well never hear. I'm hearing it on this July afternoon because I have suggested to her that she is, among fans of her show, a sex symbol. "I'm not a sex symbol," the 26-year-old says, patting her seven-month-pregnant belly. "I'm a reproduction symbol! This is the least sexiest character I've ever played."
How then to explain the Gillian Anderson Testosterone Brigade? The fan club meets on the Internet after every Friday night episode (Fox, 9 p.m.) to share gossip and fantasies about their favourite FBI special agent. With her partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), Scully has close encounters with deep-frozen aliens, blood-drained corpses, liver-eating mutants and all the other creepies lurking in the paranoid Zeitgeist of post-Cold War America. Do not, however, expect her to have a close encounter with Mulder‹this is one sharp, confident, professional, logical, sensible character who can‹ and does‹squish her partner's ego with an effortless eyebrow-up zinger. In other words, she's dead sexy.
Ratings to date have been as flat as crop circles, but the show's substantial cult following‹fueled by its paranormal themes, chilling plotlines and stylish lenswork in a Vancouver that seems to be forever dark and misty‹has taken Scully and Mulder into a second season, which begins September 16. Flickers on the network scope at Fox indicate a potential classic in the mold of The Twilight Zone. But cult fame can be problematic: Will Anderson eventually retire to the nerd convention circuit? "I sure hope not" the five-foot-two redhead says. "I don't think so, but I don't know the difference between cult fame and mass fame." She adds that, due to her consciously low profile, the very idea of celebrity is still alien to her. "On a very basic level it's being in the public eye, but there are different levels and meanings to fame." One interpretation: "I have a larger trailer this year."
Not bad when you consider that, until last year the Chicago-native had barely graced a screen. An award-winning off-Broadway actor, she segued to national audiences via an episode of the short-lived Fox series Class of '96 and The Turning, a film produced by Robert de Niro's fledgling Tribeca studio (she also spoke for the book tape version of the Anne Rice SM epic Exit to Eden.) She next impressed X-Files executive producer, former Disney writer and sometime surfer Chris Carter, who says that (despite her short resume') he knew immediately that he had found Scully. Anderson recalls the subsequent pilot episode was "a massive, horrifying experience. It was very hard for me to be expressive within that little frame within which I was allowed to move. And so I stayed very rigid."
No matter: she got noticed‹both on-screen and on-set. Anderson married former X-Files production designer, Vancouver's Clyde Klotz, in Hawaii this past New Year's Day. "It was difficult to find a minister," she says. "There was a Buddhist temple down the street, so we talked to this nice [priest]. He drove us to this golf course and showed us this spot down by the ocean." They tied the knot on the 17th hole. Since then, Anderson's first pregnancy, which reaches full term this month, has been hidden with careful camera angles and very creative wardrobe. Her baby will be global‹a citizen of Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
And the testosterone factor? Chris Carter puts it this way: "Men, you know, their eyes pop out at the sex kittens but it's the formidable women who win the hearts." And, perhaps this season, the ratings. James Glave Taken from the September 1994 issue of Vancouver Magazine.
Transcript appears courtesy of Vancouver Magazine.