June 16-22, 1996
The Private Side of "The X-Files"' Quiet Star
By Harriet Winslow
Politician Pat Buchanan had just left the makeup artist's chair at the Fox Morning News studio, and several WTTG staff members were buzzing around, trying to get a look at the guest who replaced him.
Gillian Anderson, the star of Fox's hit science-fiction series "The X-Files," slid into the chair.
Minutes later, a uniformed security guard, who towered over the 5-foot-2 redhead, was the first to step forward.
"Could you take our picture?" he asked, offerin ghis camera to an older woman in a black silk suit.
"Sure," said the photo recruit, who looked as though she'd been through this before. The guard lavished words of praise on Anderson, smiled for the camera, and left his post a happy man.
Anderson--whose first name is pronounced Jillian--resembled a '40's movie star in a long brown skirt, taupe jacket, and chocolate, stacked-heel pumps. She is much smaller than she appears on TV.
"You know, " said the photographer, hearing remarks about the actress's figure, "Gillian was never this thin before."
She could know. She's her mother.
No doubt the attention that "The X-Files" attracts every Friday night is enough to make one shed a few pounds. The series is Fox's highest-rated show and this fall will move to Sunday, the evening with the largest available audience, for its fourth season.
At 27, the stage-trained DePaul University graduate has seen some big changes in her life since she took the role of FBI special agent Dana Scully.
Anderson speaks in the same lazy alto as Scully; she sounds as if she doesn't open her mouth enough when she talks. But while she is soft- spoken and poised, her mother, Rosemary, is outspoken and chipper.
They came to Washington to attend the black-tie White House Correspond- ents' dinner, and for something much more serious--to attend a scientists' meeting about the disease that Gillian's 15-year old brother was diagnosed with when he was 3. It's called neurofibromatosis, or NF, and Rosemary helped start a clinic for NF patients in Michigan.
Perhaps having a sibling with an illness--a life-threatening one that encourages tumors to grow all over the body--has added gravity to the young actress's personality.
In WTTG's conference room with a tall Evian bottle in front of her, Anderson and her mother discussed the family, her brother's disease, the eight years they spent in London when Gillian's dad, Ed, studied film production, and the attention "The X-Files" has brought to all of them.
She is now, after all, a certifiable television star.
Take, for example, the May cover of Rolling Stone magazine, where Anderson shares a bed with co-star David Duchovny. This cover set a sales record when it ran last year in Australia, and was designed no doubt to tease fans of the series who pine for a romance between the characters.
But Anderson was relieved not to have to address this tired question. It will never happen, "X-Files" creator Chris Carter has said many times. The show is about the cases--the psychic phenomena, UFO sightings, and all manner of inexplicable crimes the two FBI agents cover. It is essential that the characters' lives do not overshadow them, he believes.
However, Anderson said that her character has undergone changes along with the actress. Scully has become more three-dimensional since the show started, and her on-screen relationship with Fox Mulder (Duchovny) has shifted, she said.
"We were spending, I think, the first season figuring out who these (characters) were. And then I got pregnant, and I was trying to figure out who I was.
"And then I think only in the third season have I started to feel really comfortable with her and really feel like she's gotten stronger and more mature, and it seems like her relationship with Mulder has gotten stronger and she's more of a partner than a sidekick."
Anderson and her husband, German-born cinematographer Clyde Klotz, whom she met on the "X-Files" set in Vancouver, have a daughter, Piper, of whom they are very protective.
Anderson had the baby in September 1994, by Caesarean section, and her pregnancy triggered rumors that she was expendable to "The X-Files," that she would be replaced. But Carter, who picked her for the role, insisted she stay.
She missed only two weeks of filming for the surgery, and nearly two years later her face is too famous to be easily replaced. Now she thinks about security systems and dodging fans who want to take Piper's picture.
To illustrate the zeal of some members of the media--especially from overseas--Anderson told how a British reporter had arrived unannounced in Grand Rapids, where Rosemary is a computer consultant and Gillian's father runs a film production company. Rosemary picked up the story, while Gillian listened from across the table.
"Last week for the first time, a reporter showed up at my door, from England, from England, yes, in the pouring rain, came charging up. My girlfriend was in the driveway and she practically pushed her out of the way and said, 'I'm from London and I'd like to interview you about Gillian and her childhood and have some pictures and use some of your time.'"
Gillian interrupted: "Since then, (the reporter) is still in Grand Rapids, holed up in a hotel. She's calling everybody."
Rosemary agreed: "She has called everybody we've ever known. She has been over to the high school, going through yearbooks."
But Gillian's parents and younger brother and sister have shut the reporter out in an attempt to protect her daughter's eroding privacy.
To get some formal privacy, Gillian scheduled a quiet vacation in Italy with Piper and Rosemary after an "X-Files" publicity stint in Milan. Gillian's husband will join them later in Europe.
Committed to "The X-Files" for two more years, Anderson said she hasn't abandoned her inclination for the stage, but looks forward to making the upcoming film, based on the series, first. She likes the idea of making a reunion-style move, using the same Vancouver crew, every couple of years. Once the series is done, that is.
But first, she wanted to take her mother to see the monuments that Washing- ton is famous for, before going back to the hotel where Piper, as well as several public engagements, awaited.
Transcript appears courtesy of The Washington Post.