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Philadelphia Daily News
January 20, 2006

Gillian's Way: 'X-Files' ex stars as aristocrat in 'Bleak House'

PASADENA, Calif. - There's a good chance that many of the people who tune in Sunday for the premiere of PBS' sprawling, deliciously addictive adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Bleak House" won't immediately recognize "The X-Files' " Agent Dana Scully in the tormented aristocrat Lady Dedlock.

And Gillian Anderson, who's inclined to blame the nine seasons she spent playing opposite David Duchovny's Fox Mulder for stereotyping her out of more than a few roles, couldn't be more delighted about that.

"I don't get offers in America," Anderson, who now lives in London with her second husband, Julian Ozanne, and her daughter, told reporters here last week. "People don't know what to do with me in America. And I've disappeared... I think perhaps there's a slight perception that I was a temporary television celebrity who disappeared off the face of the planet."

Disappearances off the planet may belong more to the realm of Agent Scully, but there's little question that Anderson's career cooled for a while, despite excellent notices for her role in the 2000 costume drama "House of Mirth," for which she received a British Independent Film Award.

"I used to say, at the very beginning of the series, that it wasn't going to stereotype me," she said in an interview. "Because I knew... I knew what was inside of me as an actor. I had a belief in myself as an actor and my ability to do things that actors do, to play different kinds of characters, and I just assumed that that would win out in the end.

"And it didn't. And I think it has been shocking. But I think it was a bit of a conundrum to me for a while that, you know, that the public and the filmmaking community couldn't see, you know, me beyond that character, and be willing to take a risk," Anderson said.

"The way people talk about 'House of Mirth,' and the amount of people who seem to really like it and appreciate it, one would think that more would follow. You know, that somebody might have thought, 'Well, cool, we want her in our next period drama,' if nothing else. And that didn't happen. And I've only really started to do - you know, it's three years on, more like four years on, Jesus, since 'The X-Files' ended, and just the end of the year before last is when I started to do films again," said Anderson, whose recent work includes the films "Tristram Shandy" and "The Last King of Scotland."

In her mid-20s when "The X-Files" started, but with a look that projected enough maturity to make her credible as both a doctor and FBI agent, Anderson, like many a woman who's grown into her face, is now a young-looking 37.

And no, she's not a redhead anymore.

Lady Dedlock wears her dark hair up, but on this particular day, Anderson's shoulder-length hair is light brown, with blond highlights, a look she adopted for a more recent film role.

Would she ever go back to red?

"I try so hard not to," she said, wincing. "It's so funny, because the film I just did, another character that's as far from Scully as you can imagine, which is the hair color that I have right now, it's leftover from this film. And I knew what it was that I wanted as the hair color for this character and I was very specific about it and I found magazine clippings that related to it, and in the process of trying to find it, the hair colorist - I was in there for hours - kept... it kept coming up red, like Scully.

"And it was so frustrating because I was the only one that could see it. And they kept saying, 'No, but it kind of looks like this picture,'... but I couldn't verbalize what needed to happen different in order to make it what I wanted instead of what it was. So it's going to be a while, I think, before I choose to be a redhead. And if I was a redhead, it would have to be a completely different red and a completely different cut."

That said, Anderson still has "very fond feelings about Scully," and is still hoping to play her again in another "X-Files" movie.

But while she may return to Mulder, Anderson, who spent several years of her childhood in England and who credits British filmmakers with helping to revive her career, doesn't see herself returning to the United States anytime soon.

"Not to live, I don't think. I don't think. I don't know. I mean, I never say never, because things change."

Asked if she considered herself an American living in England, she replied:

"I don't know. I don't know what I consider myself. I would, except that, what I identify as America doesn't seem to exist right now, in the present administration and everything that's happening. I think that if I were to identify myself in that way it would be because I was proud of being American. And I can't necessarily say that right now."

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