May 18, 1997
By Andrew Smith
Gillian Anderson, the X-Files Star, may be a TV phenomenon And the world's sexiest woman, but she's a musician at heart. ANDREW SMITH hears exclusively about Scully 's new career as a pop star one of the first things you notice about Gillian Anderson is her deep, sexy laugh. In conversation, she uses it a lot. She laughs especially loud when you ask her what it's like to be, by common consent, 'the world's sexiest woman", the Most downloaded image on the Internet, where no fewer than 70 web sites are dedicated to her.
"Oh, I don't think about it," she breezes. "It goes in one ear and out the other. I know it's somebody else's perception of me, not who I really am." But Lord only knows how she came to be in this position. When it came to casting agent Dana Scully, the hard-nosed pathologist at the heart of The X Files, those creative daredevils at the television studio knew what they wanted. The list of essential attributes began with blonde hair and ended with long legs. Beyond that, the executives were flexible, any Pamela Anderson would do—though, in the event, the producer thought he'd found something better in Pammie's 5ft 3in tall, and not conspicuously pneumatic, namesake, Gillian.
Given his brief, there can be little doubt that he was mad, yet, four years later, nobody goes out of their way to remind him of it. The X Files has become the televisual phenomenon of the 1990s and Anderson and her co-star, David Duchovny, who plays Scully's investigative partner, Agent Mulder, the medium's foremost icons. Now, amid persistent rumours that Anderson is fed up with the-show's punishing schedule and is longing to quit, she has made a record her first Single was released last week and revealed that she always wanted to be a musician anyway. Is this her way out?
Sitting on the balcony of her surprisingly modest shoreline house in a comfortable suburb of Vancouver - where The X Files is filmed - she seems relaxed and chatty. Everyone who meets her comments on her apparent ordinariness. Certainly, her attraction doesn't rest solely with her looks. Nevertheless, the screen's least fluffy sex symbol since Mae West says it is hard for her to find men she can trust and who are not intimidated by her.
"I have to spend a really long time getting to know someone before I feel safe exposing anything of myself," she says. Has she been badly betrayed? "Yeah . . . I don't really want to talk about it. It's happened twice, people getting close to me, then using my trust for their own purposes. You become hypersensitive to people's motives. If you're not careful, it can affect your view of people in general quite badly." Her celebrity, she says, played a role in the break-up of her marriage to Clyde Klotz, a former X Files set designer.
We have long been used to television stars trying their hand at pop stardom almost anyone who's ever been in an Aussie soap has released at least one single. The difference is that this former punk tearaway has always had an interest in music. In her early teens, she lived with her family in Crouch End, North London, before moving back to the little community of Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the age of 11. She found it parochial and tedious. Her response was to become a punk.
She acquired a nose ring and a mohican haircut, and took to following bands around. She went out with a 21-year-oid punk musician, Len Wallstce, when only 14. Meanwhile, her school classmates voted her Most Bizarre Girl, Class Clown and Most Likely to Go Bald, because of her extravagant hairdos. She thought these epithets "silly" at the time. She always longed to get up onstage in front of her own band but "never had the courage", although she appeared with Wallace on occasion, sometimes on squeaky backing vocals. This may explain why she has taken the work on her new single and on an accompanying compilation album, for which she has chosen the tracks, so seriously.
She describes those turbulent teenage years as being about "finding my own boundaries". However, she was not, she says, simply making a stand against her parents: "Most of my aggression was closer to myself." So what is her greatest fear? "Er ... insanity," she blurts out, before becoming uncharacteristically hesitant. This is something she thinks about? "Yeah, because there have been times in my life when I thought that I .. . no, I can't do this. I can't talk about this any more . . . [long pause] There have been times in the past when I thought that I was close. It was a real danger for me." Is this fear related to bad experiences she had in the past? "It's related to everything. I can't tell you more than that. But don't put this into the present—that's very important. I won't say any more." A mystery worthy of Scully herself.
These days, Anderson goes to great lengths to sheath herself in calm. Partly, this is to shield herself from a work schedule that is, she says, equivalent to "making a feature film every week" for 10 months of the year. However, the wild child still surfaces from time to time. On one occasion, if was reported that she devoured live grasshoppers on the set of The X Files.
"That story was half-true,"' she laughs. "In that episode, there was this circus freak, a grasshopper eater. He took this big jar full of them and just poured them into his mouth. In the scene, Mulder leaps over and offers me the jar. They'd spent $400 making these little chocolate crickets so I didn't have to eat a real one. I thought, here's this man sitting in front of me who's got probably 250 of them in his mouth and in his ears, crawling all over his body—and I'm not going to pick one up and just pop it in my mouth? So that's what I ended up doing." She spat it out once the shot was completed.
Little wonder that the frustrated musician-turned- actress chose to call her single Extremis. This collaboration with the British techno crew HAL is a spin-off from the voice-over work she did on Future Fantastic. The BBC television series. While she was reading the script the soundtrack music was being pumped into her earphones as a way of providing atmosphere. "I just kept stopping and saying, 'what's this? It's great! Can you write down the names of these bands so I can buy the records later?' " Eventually, some bright spark suggested that she compile an album of similarly atmospheric electronic music. This became Future: A Journey Through the Electronic Underground, released tomorrow. It features cutting-edge British acts such as Massive Attack and Future Sound of London, and is quite superb. And when she expressed a particular liking for the series' title track, HAL were quick to suggest that she get involved. She provided a sultry spoken-word vocal over a rather lumpen rhythm track. This became Extremis. Unfortunately, it has rather too much in common with the efforts of other television-stars-turned-songsters such as Telly Savalas and David Soul to make listening a totally pleasurable experience. Luckily, though, for all her musical ambitions, Anderson is reassuringly reluctant to give up her day job just yet. After all, she's pretty good at it.
Transcript provided by Jon Stringer and appears courtesy of The Sunday Times.