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July 1998

Gillian's Island
By Rob Bernstein

Rendezvous with X-Files star Gillian Anderson and find out if she's as Net-savvy as Agent Scully.

EVEN AFTER A 3-HOUR TOUR of Gillian Anderson Web sites, you'd find yourself lost in an ocean of unvisited links.  The Net's love affair with the 29-year-old X-Files starlet has generated more than 24,000 documents in AltaVista.  Sites divulge everything about the actress, including details about her daughter (Piper Maru), her pet (a Neapolitan mastiff), and her extracurricular activities (drinking decaf, nonfat, foamy mochas and serving as a guest DJ at a Vancouver, British Columbia-based alternative-rock station).  Put simply, she's an isle unto herself online.

A great deal of Anderson's Net appeal can be attributed to the ultra-wired character she plays on television.  Agent Scully is about as connected as a person can get.  Proficient with laptops, cell phones, and covert government databases, she is one of the few television characters equipped for the '90s and beyond.

Anderson may not be quite as expert with computers as is Scully, but she does own a laptop and connects from time to time.  She's also cognizant of the online X-Files fan movement and went so far as to thank the fans after winning her 1997 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress on a Drama.

Anderson is hoping her online appeal will translate into robust ticket sales for this summer's X-Files film, Fight the Future.  If the many Anderson shrines, photo galleries, and testosterone brigades are any indication of fan anticipation, X-Files just might become Fox's next big film franchise.

X-LIFE: Scully seems to be in tune with her computer, e-mail, and the Net.  But you've admitted that's the show, not real life.  Has the role nudge you into exploring cyberspace a bit more?

GILLIAN: Well, I do own a laptop, but part of me is a little afraid I would shirk my real-life responsibilities if I actually went online a lot.

X-LIFE: So how do you look so convincing when you're using computers on the show?

GILLIAN: It's called acting.  I have a general idea of what's on the Net.  I don't have a deep understanding of all those chat rooms, or have down all of the terminology.  But I can definitely pretend like I do.

X-LIFE: No one has a deep understanding of those chat rooms.  How do you feel about online adulation?  Last we searched, there were 24,000 Web links listed in AltaVista such sites as the Gillian Anderson Estrogen Brigade (, the Gillian Anderson House of Worship (, and the Gillian Anderson Picture Vault (  Do you sometimes stop and think, "Who are all these people?"

GILLIAN: Honestly, if it makes people happy I don't care what they do with their free time, with their lives.  If that's the way they want to spend it, then it's their choice.  I don't consider them losers in any way.   Hey, they're doing that instead of hitting the bars, and that's fine by me.

X-LIFE: Yet the minute there's talk or even rumors about you in the press, it's on the Net in a matter of seconds.  Does that make you a little paranoid?

GILLIAN: Hmmm ... I hadn't really thought about it in terms of paranoia.

X-LIFE: All that "truth" showing up out there?

GILLIAN: Come to think of it, now you're making me paranoid.  [Laughs]  People make up stuff.  That's what the whole tabloid press is about.  But all that matters is the truth, and we know what the truth is.   Everything else is superfluous.

X-LIFE: So when you do log on, what do you log on for?

GILLIAN: It's mostly when I do some work with my local radio station.  Sometimes, after a radio session, I'll log on.  But most of the time we have to abort the process because so many people start coming on to ask questions that the entire system shuts down.

X-LIFE: When Scully goes home at night and logs on, where does she go?

GILLIAN: Most of the time she's looking for research, or trying to find information about people she's investigating.  Pathogens, diseases, and stuff like that.

X-LIFE: Would she ever consider going into a chat room with a nice, single pathologist?

GILLIAN: A nice, single pathologist?  [Laughs]   She might.  That's kind of interesting.  She might.

X-LIFE: I ask because online, one of the most debated X-Files questions is, "Who should Scully become romantically involved with?  The list runs the gamut from Mulder to Krycek to Skinner.  For the record, what kind of man is Scully attracted to?

GILLIAN: Well, hey, that's not a very big pool you've got there.

X-LIFE: Fans will throw any character into the scenario.  Shoot, even Flukeman.

GILLIAN: What about, oh, what was his name?   Kresge.  I thought there might be some possibility there for Scully.   That was the one person I can see her being interested in.  The only valid prospect in the last couple of years.

X-LIFE: That's kind of depressing.

GILLIAN: Well, she doesn't have a lot of time for anything else.

X-LIFE: There's also some rough stuff out there on the Net.  As a mother, what are your impressions of the Net?

GILLIAN: I think that's it's valid to put some kind of block on some of the information that's out there, but otherwise, I think the way to deal with it is in education, and working with kids early on in their lives so they don't feel the need to have that kind of outlet.  If they're predisposed to finding that [pornographic] kind of information, there's something lacking in their lives.  It's not about getting the information, because they can get it anywhere they want.

X-LIFE: Well, what do you think about all of the manipulated photos of you that are on the net from facial distortions to superimposed nude bodies?   You and Alicia Silverstone are perhaps the favorite subjects of these enthusiasts.  Does this bother you at all?

GILLIAN: No.  It would bother me more if I thought they were real photos of me nude.  Knowing that they're not, it doesn't really bother me at all.

X-LIFE: Then you take a live-and-let live approach?

GILLIAN: Why should I be bothered?  As far as David [Duchovny, her costar] and I are concerned, our images are exploited left and right, and we have no control over it.  So it's just another aspect of that.

X-LIFE: Speaking of exploitation, there's been a lot of tension between Twentieth Century Fox and online fans over some X-Files fan sites and the posting of copyrighted materials.  At first, this was largely tolerated; now, Fox is going after them, and many fans feel it will backfire.  How do you feel?

GILLIAN: I'm not actually aware of that struggle.   Tell me more about it.

X-LIFE: Well, there are a lot of sites out there devoted to you and David.  Most are not posted for profit, although some fans do post copyrighted stills of the show.  So Fox lawyers have sent out cease-and-desist letters to some of the sites.  The online community gets unhappy when this happens, but Fox has a point as well.

GILLIAN: I'm not versed enough about the Internet to know what's being exploited and what's not.  But I believe in freedom of speech, and to a certain degree, freedom of the press.  My opinion right off the bat is that it's just people online having a good time.  As long as it's not for profit, Fox is making a tremendous profit on everything.  I don't think it would diminish the profit that they're making.  If it's not for profit, and it's just for fun, hey, it's par for the course.

X-LIFE: There's a lot of speculation on the Internet about the success of your upcoming movie. Entertainment Weekly rated the film one of the riskiest releases of the coming season.  Is that a concern of yours?

GILLIAN: No, it's not a concern at all.  I don't know why they would have rated it risky.  With all of the die-hard fans alone, the movie would end up being  a success, and that's not even taking into consideration new viewers or people who have never seen the show before.

X-LIFE: What does the success of the film mean for you?

GILLIAN: It would mean that in the future, we would revisit this situation every few years and do more features, which for me is an exciting prospect.

X-LIFE: Are you getting tired of the television series?

GILLIAN: It's not that I'm getting tired of it, it's just that it's incredibly grueling.  And if we're going to be doing features every few years, ya know, it seems that the more productive scenario to keep us alive and interested in doing the work would be to have the show flip over to features, and gradually let go of he TV series within the next one or two years.

X-LIFE: On the Net, fans rate Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" and Clyde Bruckman's "Final Repose" as the best episodes.   Which do you like most?

GILLIAN: I think that one of the more recent ones the vampire one, called "Bad Blood," is one of my favorites of all time now.

X-LIFE: Do you feel any of the episodes have gone too far?

GILLIAN: There are some I'm not too crazy about, but not because they went too far.  I wasn't that crazy in the end about the two-parter involving my daughter.  I liked aspects of them, but as a whole, they didn't turn out as well as I wanted them to.

X-LIFE: Does [X-Files creator] Chris Carter ever come on the set to show you things he find online, like what Net fans think about your performances?

GILLIAN: Chris will sometimes bring up things that perked his interest online.  But we don't actually see him that often.

X-LIFE: Final question: When it comes to believing in extraterrestrial life, are you more like Scully or Mulder?

GILLIAN: My take is that the universe is vast beyond our wildest dreams, that it's more likely than not that there is life out there.  In that respect, I'd have to say I'm more Mulder-oriented.

Transcript provided by Alfred Tow and appears courtesy of Yahoo Internet Life.

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