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February 1999

Gillian X-Posed
By Jeanne Wolf

The X-Files star dishes about kissing David, the trials and joys of raising a daughter on her own, and the unexpected pleasures of being a buttoned-up sex symbol.

A small purple bike with training wheels is propped against the hedge outside Gillian Anderson's California beach house. Anderson answers the door looking girlish and natural - not a drop of makeup on, her hair held back in a simple white band. These are her temporary digs, she explains as she and her enormous dog, Cleo, lead the way to the living room; her new house is undergoing renovation. Mental note: Neither Anderson's Golden Globe nor her Emmy is in plain sight.

It's hard to believe now, but just days before Anderson landed her starring role on The X-Files, she was collecting her last unemployment check. Now in its sixth season, the series has spawned millions of X-philes - and launched Anderson into both movies and modeling. With a new film, Playing by Heart, opening nationwide, Anderson's schedule is especially demanding these days. It's easy to wonder how she manages to spend any time with her 4-year-old daughter, Piper. (Anderson and Piper's dad, former X-Files art director Clyde Klotz, are divorced.) Her solution: Almost every day is "take your daughter to work" day. Piper has been an unofficial member of the X-Files crew since the morning Anderson returned to work - just ten days after her C-section. And Piper got to make friends on the set of Playing by Heart too (her best pal: Sean Connery).

It may not seem like it from afar, but Anderson's life is like that of millions of young career moms: Her days are long and taxing she struggles to find a balance between work and home, and there's just one thing she longs for: more time.

REDBOOK: You must have times when you're just plain tired of being Dana Scully.

GILLIAN: Sure, there are times when I just hate to think of saying one of Scully's patented comebacks again. It would be a lot harder if I weren't playing such an intelligent and multidimensional character. Also, there are days when we may not crack a smile on camera but we laugh a lot between takes.

REDBOOK: And there's a bonus: Male fans of X-Files find Scully sexy.

GILLIAN: At first I thought it was bizarre. I just didn't get it. I think a lot of men are used to seeing blond, chesty, leggy women in skimpy clothes on TV. Scully is a change of pace, I guess. there's something about her intelligence that mixes with the male fantasy of "What does she really look like underneath those tailored suits?"

REDBOOK: A lot of women want to know, how do you get your hair to flip like that every week?

GILLIAN: I'm the biggest delinquent in the world as far as hair goes. If you like it, then it has nothing to do with me. I don't have a clue.

REDBOOK: In the X-Files movie Scully and Mulder almost locked lips, then on the show they did, if only briefly. Does that mean that they're finally going to have a real relationship?

GILLIAN: From day one we've been talking about the fact that a romance between them just wouldn't work. I don't know if almost kissing in the movie will change that.

REDBOOK: You're certainly not seen around Hollywood at a lot of parties and events. When you appear in public, especially at awards ceremonies, some people get the impression that you're not all that enthusiastic.

GILLIAN: I'm not a very excitable person. I find award shows daunting and exhausting. I sometimes refuse to gather up my last remaining resources to make it appear as if I'm in heaven. But I'm incredibly grateful for the awards.

REDBOOK: Do fans ever approach you to talk about the series?

GILLIAN: Well, there was this aboriginal shaman artist in Venice who told me a long story that I will not repeat. He went on and on about ways in which the show is accurate. Then there are the parents who come up and say, "My 4-year-old is a big fan." I find that really scary.

REDBOOK: Am I wrong, or are there echoes of Scully in your character in Playing by Heart?

GILLIAN: She's actually a little more like Scully than anything else I've done on the screen. The challenge was to make her different.

REDBOOK: This is a very emotionally demanding movie. Do you prefer that?

GILLIAN: It seems like I've done a lot of "feeling" stuff lately. I want to do a little more butt-kicking.

REDBOOK: Well, obviously butt-kicking didn't draw you into Playing by Heart.

GILLIAN: One of the things that attracted me the most is that it deals with honesty in relationships. I try to the best of my ability to live my life being totally honest with the people who are closest to me. To see a script that reflected that really intrigued me. You need to speak your truth to those around you.

REDBOOK: But can't honesty be dangerous, too?

GILLIAN: Of course you have to be careful and thoughtful. Then the right people will stick around no matter what truths you tell. So much of this world is based on illusion, temporariness, and disposability that I think it's essential that our closest relationships reflect what is real. This movie is very much about having courage to tell the truth and to stick with a relationship until there is no more love left.

REDBOOK: You're single now and caught up in your career and motherhood. Would you have time for a man in your life?

GILLIAN: I have time for the right relationship. I don't have time for flings. I don't have time for somebody who's not on a similar path - which is about work and family and honesty. If I could find that kind of relationship, then I'd make time.

REDBOOK: How will you know when you've found Mr. Right?

GILLIAN: I think it's pretty easy to tell. You can be with somebody for a couple of dates and sense what their intentions are. I've never really dated. That's not the way you find somebody. Anyway, I'm not trying to find somebody. I trust that if I'm meant to be in a relationship, that person will come into my life. Who knows? I might be driving somewhere and get in an accident and end up marrying the person whose car I hit five years later.

REDBOOK: You're a well-paid and famous working mom, but a working mom nevertheless. How do you cope?

GILLIAN: When Piper was born I was so naive. I thought, How does anybody do this? How does anybody stay sane? Fortunately, she wasn't colicky for more than a couple of days, but I was getting no sleep as it was. Now, I am a single mom and working, but I am not battling what that normally implies because luckily I can afford to have full-time help.

REDBOOK: How did you find your nanny?

GILLIAN: I met her in a Starbucks in Vancouver. She walked over to where we were and talked to Piper in such a grounded and open way - really listening to her. She's just wonderful - and Piper adores her.

REDBOOK: Divorce can be tough. How have you dealt with it?

GILLIAN: Her father and I have worked very hard at being friends. Everything comes back to what is in Piper's best interest. She understands that we live in two separate places and that we are not married anymore, but that we both love her very much.

REDBOOK: No matter how hard you try, aren't there moments when you think that you just aren't living up to the challenge?

GILLIAN: There was a period of time where I went through a tremendous amount of guilt. I was trying to figure out what would be best for her. It was incredibly painful and difficult and stressful. Now I try to have her on the set with me whenever I can. I try to take her to school. I'll ask the production people, "If you can just start this scene a little later then I can pick up Piper." But whatever else I have to deal with or whatever bad mood I'm in, I try to push it away until after she's asleep or when she's with her dad. It doesn't work all the time. Some days I come in and I'm like, "You know what, sweetie, I really don't want to get down on my hands and knees right now-I'm tired."

REDBOOK: A lot of single moms have their own female support groups with whom they can share the day-to-day stuff that drives them crazy. Do you?

GILLIAN: A lot of my relationships with women are about that. We may go to a movie or we may go out to dinner, but we talk about working through the stuff of life. It's not about trivial things, it's not about gossip. It's about life.

REDBOOK: Now do you feel about turning 30? Was that any sort of milestone for you?

GILLIAN: When I turned 30, something shifted. I actually had my thyroid checked, because my body is working in a different way in terms of how much energy I burn. You know, you put on a couple pounds and say, "Wait a second, I've been eating the same things." Well, honey, you just turned 30 and sometimes your metabolism changes when you turn 30.

REDBOOK: Come on, you look great. There must be a fitness routine in your life somewhere.

GILLIAN: I've been doing yoga again for the first time in a long time and checking out Pilates. I always thought that unless I was sprinting and lifting weights I wasn't doing anything. I have to accept where I am at the moment. I have to be as accepting of my body as I am of my friends' bodies.

REDBOOK: Your daughter is 4. By now I'm sure you're beginning to see the things that make her special.

GILLIAN: Oh, absolutely. But I've known her since the seventh month of my pregnancy, can you believe that? That's when I connected with Piper. She is the person that I felt in my stomach. I felt her personality and she is all that I knew - alive and unique and strong and independent and kind and compassionate. She has so much energy and life, and she's fearless. She's very straightforward. I see a lot of myself in Piper, and there's more to come. I know that I'll pay for that - I was notoriously difficult in high school and I guess she'll get her turn when she's in her teens.

REDBOOK: What does she do that surprises you?

GILLIAN: She's so inquisitive. She asks the most amazing questions. She wants to know everything - why the waves don't stop, what's inside trees, what's inside umbrellas, how we see. I answer the ones that I can and the others I say, "You know what sweetie, I really don't know, but maybe we can find out together."

REDBOOK: Where did you find out the secret to being a good mother? Or is there a secret?

GILLIAN: I had a sense of what was missing in the way that I was brought up - and that's nothing against my mother and my father because they honestly did the very best that they could. But there were certain areas where I could have used more help and understanding. Those are the things that I focus on with Piper.

REDBOOK: Don't stop there. What was missing in your childhood?

GILLIAN: I could have heard more that I was okay just the way I was, that I was enough. My daughter knows that she's okay. I let her make mistakes. You get to learn a lot as a mom. I can see clearly that what is most difficult for me is relinquishing control. Piper and I were sitting out on the porch making drawings with glue and sand. It took everything in my power not to scrape around corners of the panda and lion that she was making so they would look more perfect. But then it wouldn't have been hers. That's how I get to learn to let go and allow her to be a child. I'm not saying that she has to be perfect, but that she's perfect just the way she is.

Transcript graciously provided by Alfred Tow and appears courtesy of Redbook.

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