Gillian Leigh Anderson was born in Chicago, Illinois
on August 9, 1968. Soon after her birth, the family relocated to Puerto
Rico for 15 months and then moved to England. Gillian spent the next 9
years of her childhood growing up in London's North End - first in Stamford
Hill and later in Crouch End - while her father Edward studied film production
at the London School of Film Technique in Covent Garden for 2 years. Eventually
the family moved back to the U.S.A. and settled in Grand Rapids where
her father ran a film post-production company and her mother worked as
a computer analyst.
love for acting began when she decided to audition for a community play
while attending City High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"Somehow, I have no idea how the transition was made from wanting
to be an archeologist or a marine biologist, to wanting to be an actress,
but it just kind of happened," says Gillian.
As a child, Gillian showed a flair for drama but was more of a tomboy
who harbored dreams of becoming a Marine Biologist rather than those of
movie stardom. "I loved digging up worms and cutting them up into
little pieces. In the interests of science, of course!"
Her mother Rosemary recalls, "From the start Gillian had a real flair
for the dramatic. That has simply always been her personality. But the
first time I knew something was really up with her and acting was when
she was 14 and a teacher assigned her the "Romeo And Juliet"
balcony scene. Gillian had no background in Shakespeare, acting or anything
remotely like it. Nobody on either side of our family had any experience
with acting. Her father was interested in film production, but that had
mostly been connected with industrial training films and commercials.
But she studied that scene and mastered it with no effort whatever. When
she performed it for me my jaw just dropped."
Before the acting bug hit, Gillian dabbled in the punk rocker scene. "I
fainted when it was inserted. My father was furious about it," Gillian
tells of her and her father's reactions regarding her nose ring.
"I was confused," is how Gillian puts her somewhat wild teen years.
"I was arrested on graduation night for breaking and entering into the
high school," she confessed in an interview for TV Guide.
Of course, growing up in England and then moving back to the U.S.A. was not
a simple thing, as her mother recalls: "The contrast was just incredible.
Plus she missed all the friends she had grown up with in London. And her classmates
all thought she talked funny because she didn't have an American accent. Gillian
had to learn to speak like an American for the first time in her life, just
to fit in."
herself admits: "I was angry and it was my way of keeping people
at a distance." In a different interview, Gillian remembers, "I
was always off in my own little world or being sent to the principal's
office for talking back." When the acting bug hit, "My outlook
changed, my grades went up and I was voted 'most improved student'."
After graduating from City High School in 1986, Gillian studied acting
at the prestigious DePaul University's Goodman Theater and graduated with
a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. In the summer after her freshman year,
Gillian was selected to attend a three-week workshop run by the National
Theatre of Great Britain at Cornell in Ithaca, NY. Upon obtaining her
degree, Gillian headed to New York at the age of 22 to pursue a career
Gillian's first big break came when she landed a role in the off Broadway play
"Absent Friends." She won a Theater World Award in 1991 for her performance
in this production.
She did one more play, "The Philanthropist," at the Long Wharf Theater
in New Haven, CT and a low budget film starring Tess Harper and Karen Allen
called "The Turning" before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue a
career in film.
"First of all, I swore I'd never move to Los Angeles, and once I did,
I swore I'd never do television. It was only after being out of work for almost
a year that I began going in [to auditions] on some stuff that I would pray
that I wouldn't get because I didn't want to be involved in it." Nevertheless,
she landed a guest appearance in the short lived TV series "Class of 96."
The title of the episode was "The Accused" (episode No. 8).
In 1993, Gillian auditioned for a TV pilot of a newly formed Fox Network show
called "The X-Files." It was for the role of Special Agent Dana Scully.
"I couldn't put the script down," Gillian remembers. During the auditions,
there was a bit of 'behind the scenes' action. The executives at Fox wanted
someone with less radiance and more sex-appeal cast in the role of Scully, but
writer-director Chris Carter insisted that Gillian had the no-nonsense integrity
that the role required. "I sort of staked my pilot and my career at the
time on Gillian. I feel vindicated everyday now," says Chris Carter about
his decision to stand firm on his choice for Scully.
As luck would have it, on the day Gillian's last unemployment check arrived,
she found out that she had won the role of Agent Scully and immediately
flew to Vancouver to begin shooting the pilot. "I didn't foresee at
all that it was going to become as popular as it has. I often thought, 'What
have I gotten myself into?' The first year was the hardest in terms of getting
into the grueling hours and sleep deprivation and having to perform constantly,
day in and day out," Gillian recalled of the first season.
On set, Gillian met Clyde Klotz, the series assistant art director at
the time. "It wasn't quite love at first sight," Gillian says
of their three-month affair. "It was Clyde's smile that first attracted
me. He was very quiet, rugged and cool, but I soon realized he had a lot
to say and that he was a very intelligent man." On New Year's Day
of 1994, Gillian and Clyde flew to Hawaii and got married on the 17th
hole of a golf course. The only other person present was the Buddhist
Monk that performed the ceremony. "We sent a letter to my Mum and
Dad, with a strict instruction not to open it until New Year's Day. Mum
had already met Clyde and my Dad was in a good mood that day, so they
Gillian was back on the set of "The X-Files" two days later. A few
months later came the news that she was pregnant. She already knew what she
wanted to do, but conceded to "not completely thinking ahead about the
consequences of that decision." The first person she told on the set was
co-star David Duchovny.
Her pregnancy came as shocking news to the Fox executives but Chris Carter
once again stuck by Gillian and refused to have Scully recast. "Part of
the show's success is the audience's investment in these characters," he
Gillian said, "It was a bit of a bombshell for them [the Fox executives].
It wasn't in my contract not to get pregnant, but it is now."
Chris Carter then created an alien abduction storyline that kept Gillian off-camera
long enough for labor, delivery, and a 10-day maternity leave. "My feet
were swelling and I was exhausted, sleeping between scenes," Gillian remembers.
Her daughter, Piper, was born on September 25, 1994. Gillian had to undergo
an unexpected cesarean section that required her to spend the next six days
in the hospital. Four days later, Gillian was back on set shooting scenes for
the episode "One Breath."
Of the experience, Gillian said, "During the first season, I didn't know
who the hell I was, let alone who this character was. I feel stronger as a person
in the world now. I remember, after going through the birthing process, feeling
that no cut, no abrasions, no knock on the head will make me whine again."
The proud new Mom happily declared, "I can't imagine not having Piper."
She chose Chris Carter to be her daughter's godfather.