X-Files Star Shuns Hollywood for Glasgow
by Brian Pendreigh
June 6, 1999
THE star of television's X Files, Gillian Anderson, has temporarily turned her back on Hollywood riches to come to Scotland and make a low-budget movie with a director who is virtually unknown in Los Angeles.
After the phenomenal success of The X Files, Anderson could command a seven-figure salary on a big studio film, but she has turned down everything Hollywood has to offer to come to Glasgow and appear in a period drama - which, ironically, is set in the United States.
"I have different values to a lot of big business and Hollywood," she said yesterday in Glasgow City Chambers. The building's elegant, Victorian interiors will double for several settings in the film The House of Mirth.
"Most of my favourite films, all of my life, have been independent films, smaller films, foreign films," said Anderson, whose role as Dana Scully in the cult television programme has brought her worldwide fame and a reported £3m a series.
The House of Mirth begins shooting tomorrow, with Anderson as Lily Bart, a socialite in turn-of-the-century New York determined to find a rich husband rather than follow the dictates of her heart. The £5m movie will be directed by Terence Davies, whose highly personal films, such as Distant Voices, Still Lives, have attracted rave reviews but never big audiences.
Yet while Anderson was a devoted fan of his work, Davies had never seen her hugely popular sci-fi series.
"I was looking for someone who had that kind of period look," he said yesterday. "I saw a picture of her . . . and I saw her extraordinary face and that kind of luminosity one associates with Greer Garson in the late 1940s."
Although Davies had never seen The X Files, he knew of Anderson and thought it unlikely she would agree to a meeting. Anderson was in London on holiday when she received a phone call from an agent to say an English director wanted to meet her. "He said, 'It's with this obscure director, you'll never have heard of him. His name is Terence Davies.' And I was like, 'Wah, I'll take it.' "
She already knew the story of The House of Mirth. Just a few months before Davies's approach she had been given the Edith Wharton novel as a present at the end of filming Playing by Heart, an ensemble drama in which she appears with Sean Connery and Anthony Edwards.
Bob Last, The House of Mirth's executive producer, is based in Edinburgh, though he did not intend to shoot the film in Scotland originally. New York was dismissed as expensive and impractical. Davies and Last also visited Baltimore and Philadelphia before considering Glasgow.
"At first I wasn't convinced," said Davies. "Then I came up and I saw these ravishing interiors."
The film's budget has been raised from various sources, including Granada Film, Film Four, the Scottish Arts Council's lottery fund and the Glasgow Film Fund. Shooting is mainly in Glasgow, though several large houses in the east of Scotland will also be used.
Others in the cast include Eric Stoltz, Dan Aykroyd, Jodhi May and Laura Linney.
Transcript appears courtesy of Scottish Sunday Times.