Gillian Anderson

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Above anything else, stay true to yourself. Whether that means for you that you like to have blue hair, or you don't like to drink, or you are attracted to the same sex, or you want to remove yourself from Facebook, or you've got 3 different kids from 3 different dads but you know you're a really good mom, or you cry for a week because your turtle died. Whatever your truth is, stay true to yourself. But be a good person while you're at it.

Gillian Leigh Anderson (born 9 August 1968) is an American-British film, television and theatre actress, activist and writer. Her credits include the roles of FBI Special Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files, Lily Bart in Terence Davies' film The House of Mirth, Lady Dedlock in the successful BBC production of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, and DSI Stella Gibson in the BBC crime drama television series The Fall.


If was a refugee forced to flee my home the most important thing I would take with me would be my brother's Buddhist prayer beads. He passed away a year and a half ago aged 30. Even in the darkest days before he died he never once complained. His faith and practice kept him in a state of grace until the end. May I never complain.
Get out of the house. Find other human beings to communicate with. Read a book. Do yoga. Meditate. Be of service. That is one of the biggest single most things to get one out of oneself, is being of service to people who are less fortunate than ourselves.
I have feminist bones and when I hear things or see people react to women in certain ways I have very little tolerance.
We were in a small Republican town. There were only six punks there. We were weird. It's not like London.
I wouldn't say I'm normal, but I'm relatively stable. When I think of normalcy I think of mediocrity and mediocrity scares the fuck out of me.
We got a lot of letters all the time, and I was told quite frequently by girls who were going into the medical world or the science world or the FBI world or other worlds that I reigned, that they were pursuing those pursuits because of the character of Scully. And I said, 'Yay!'.
My whole belief system is that our paths are drawn for us. I believe in reincarnation. I believe we're here to learn and grow. We choose how we come into this life based on what it is we have to learn. Some people have harder lessons than others.
I've always been a believer. I've been a believer in many different realms of alternate reality, the human capacity to move out of different planes of reality. It's something that has been with me since I was a child.


  • People have been willing to accept that the government is lying to us, but [are now also] more willing to accept the concept of aliens and other life forms. There's just a slew of stuff out there right now. It's been people's closet belief system, and now it's coming out of the closet.
    • Kate O'Hare, Tribune Media Services (December 2, 1994) "The Voice of Reason Speaks on FOX's 'X-Files'", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 10F.
  • There are huge differences in the way male and female actors are perceived. Women have to be a certain size, in order to get good roles. The only successful, larger-than-average female actor I can think of is Kathy Bates. And once women reach a certain age, they can only expect one or two good roles per year, whereas male actors can continue working regularly well into their forties. Then there are the types of roles available to women. We're constantly depicted as sidekicks, ingenues, and hangers-on, rarely as independent and capable individuals. And the enormous, huge discrepancies in pay....the amounts that some male actors make are astronomically obscene. Women in Hollywood are constantly shown that there's a difference between them and men, and that that's okay. But it's not okay.
  • I didn't really think too much about the fact that it was about aliens. I was intrigued by that aspect of it, but I was more intrigued by the relationship between Mulder and Scully, and how intelligent this woman was, and that she would stand up in the face of his intelligence and feel comfortable with him.
    • On her first impressions of The X-Files — reported in Betsy Pickle (June 19, 1998) "Scully's strength is Anderson's inspiration", The Knoxville News-Sentinel, p. T11.
  • Another miraculous result of playing Scully has been all the incredible young women I have been blessed to meet along the way--women who have shared that they have received strength from Scully, that because of Scully's strength they have been afraid but done it anyway. These have been women from all walks of life: women from low-income neighborhoods who have persevered despite all odds to study hard and pursue their dreams, enabling them to enter into better schools and work environments; women who have illness and physical challenges who have gotten better and stronger because they believe they can. I truly believe that we can overcome any hurdle that lies before us and create the life we want to live. I have seen it happen time and time again.
    • Excerpt from the foreword in Girl Boss: Running the Show Like the Big Chicks, by Stacy Kravetz (1999)
  • My whole belief system is that our paths are drawn for us. I believe in reincarnation. I believe we're here to learn and grow. We choose how we come into this life based on what it is we have to learn. Some people have harder lessons than others.


  • Sometimes, I genuinely enjoy having conversations with journalists; enjoying the few moments of intimacy with a stranger is fascinating to me. But once in a while that backfires and you're suddenly reading something that has a bent on it that you didn't feel was in the least bit a part of the conversation that you thought you were having. Then you get overly protective and say very little and then you come out of the hole again.
    • The Observer staff (October 1, 2000 ) "Review: Interview: The truth is out here: X-files star Gillian Anderson has rejected the lure of Hollywood for the austere style of cult British director Terence Davies. What is she thinking of...", The Observer.
  • When I was younger I think I showed off and I fed off the attention. And to a certain degree that has been satiated in this job, just in doing what I do. I think it's enough that I don't need to then push it.
    • Grace Bradberry (October 21, 2000) "Playing with fire - Interview", The Times, p. Times Magazine 32.
  • There is this view that if you are not tormented you cannot be vital and creative. I would like to think that is not true.
    • Jasper Gerard (July 1, 2001) "Scully knows what it's like to be an alien - Interview", The Sunday Times, p. News Review 5.
  • Having been Scully for such a long time, I have to prove myself in other roles.
    • Ric House (July 6, 2001) "New 'X-Files' season will be Anderson's last", The Spokesman-Review, p. D2.
  • Directing was a transformative experience for me, one that I really enjoyed.
    • Wales on Sunday staff (December 2, 2001) "Wales on Sunday: stargazing", Wales on Sunday.
  • If I chose to have a nanny, I'd be able to pay to have a nanny - a lot of women don't have that opportunity. I don't feel like I'm a working single mom, because I have that option that a lot of people don't have.
    • Alasdair Ferguson (June 7, 2002) "As The X-Files ends, I realise how much", The Express.
  • I always felt I wasn't completely American and I wasn't completely British: there was a feeling of having my feet in both places.
    • Tony Barrell (September 18, 2005) "Agent Scullery - Interview", The Sunday Times, p. Sunday Times Magazine 46.
  • In England, I get offered films. I don't get offers in America. People don't know what to do with me in America. And I've disappeared.
  • I try, in my life, to follow my heart. I know what it feels like to do things that are soul-decaying. A large aspect of life in Hollywood, in a stereotypic way, I find unbelievably soul-decaying. And I choose, albeit frustratingly to other people in my life, not to expose myself too much to too much of that.
    • Hal Boedeker (January 21, 2006) "Agent of Change - Gillian Anderson , who found fulfilling work in England after `The X-Files,' returns to TV in a PBS miniseries", The Orlando Sentinel, p. E1.
  • When I finished the series, I wasn't going to do television again. I never wanted to do television to begin with, and I was so exhausted by the process that I was wary of being in front of the camera again.
    • On finishing her work in the series The X-Files — reported in Steve Hedgpeth (January 22, 2006) "Gillian Anderson : TV or not TV", The Star-Ledger, p. 3.
  • I became an actor because it was the only thing I could do. I didn't have any friends, I didn't fit in. But when I started acting everything in my life shifted and I felt happy.
  • I would never point a finger at anyone and say, 'They lived their life badly.' I take it as it comes and deal with each situation as it arrives.
    • Garth Pearce (April 29, 2007) "The plot to slow me down - Interview", The Sunday Times, p. InGear 3.
  • By moving to London I removed myself from the madness of the entertainment industry. I love the city and the culture, and it was an opportunity to bring my children up in a more sane environment.
    • John Hiscock (July 25, 2008) "Mulder and Scully: the truth is here Anderson on Duchovny David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, stars of the new 'X-Files' movie, talk to Will Lawrence and John Hiscock about their on-screen chemistry", The Daily Telegraph.


  • Dear Gillian,

    You are completely and utterly self obsessed. If you spent a quarter of your time thinking about others instead of how much you hate your thighs, your level of contentment and self worth would expand exponentially. One thing I learned way too late in the game for my own good was that you can effectively increase your self esteem by doing estimable things. Therefore I have signed you up to build homes for the homeless during your entire summer vacation. Your Christmas will be spent serving food at a battered women’s shelter and Easter is designated to reading stories to children in the pediatric cancer ward. Four months out of 16years dedicated to human beings other than yourself, you have gotten off easy. Oh and honey expand your horizons; your world is a bigger oyster than your low self-esteem wants you to believe. Love yourself; think of others and be grateful. I love you, I believe in you, and I look forward to respecting you.

    Me. You. Us

    P.S. Follow your dreams, not your boyfriends.
  • London is my favourite city in the world. Flying in last night, I felt I was really coming home, and that's unique. It's the only place I actually miss when I'm not here. London appeals to many aspects of me - it just feels like where I belong.
  • I've been asked whether I feel more like a Brit than an American and I don't know what the answer to that question is. I know that I feel that London is home and I'm very happy with that as my home. I love London as a city and I feel very comfortable there. In terms of identity, I'm still a bit baffled.
  • I had started to become interested in the punk scene and started to dress differently than a lot of the kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan were dressing. And I got my nose pierced and I started to shave my head and dye my hair and wear a lot of black. And so I looked like somebody that might be arrested... I was a bit of a class clown, usually the one that people would get to do the things that they were afraid to get in trouble for... On graduation night, I was arrested... I had a boyfriend at the time who was a couple centuries older than I was and I'd convinced him that we should go and glue the locks of the school so that people couldn't get in the morning. And lo and behold, they had a security guard because it was graduation night and they were concerned that idiots like me might try and do something like that.
  • Above anything else, stay true to yourself. Whether that means for you that you like to have blue hair, or you don't like to drink, or you are attracted to the same sex, or you want to remove yourself from Facebook, or you've got 3 different kids from 3 different dads but you know you're a really good mom, or you cry for a week because your turtle died. Whatever your truth is, stay true to yourself. But be a good person while you're at it.
  • We shot the first five seasons up in Vancouver, so we were protected from the public mania, and the industry mania, for the most part. I was first exposed to it when I became pregnant in the first season, and I quickly learned the power of the machine; then again when I was trying to negotiate my salary to be closer to equal to what David [Duchovny] was making, rather than a quarter. Yes, it's been an ongoing education, but it continues to astound me.
  • At the beginning [of The X-Files] the pay disparity was massive. But that happens all the time in Hollywood. It's, 'Do this for me, I'll get you a job.' All the stuff in the papers today about people in entertainment who have abused their position... it's built into our society. It's easy to miss and it's easy to get used to it. There are things that are intolerable in today's world, in terms of the perception of women. Whether they're vamps or vixens, the expectation that, if a woman is wearing a short skirt, she's 'asking for it.'
  • I was a confident fuck-up. I did drugs, and I went to concerts, and I snuck out of the house and I did all that stuff that rebellious teenagers do.
    • The Guardian "Gillian Anderson on therapy, rebellion and 'being weird'" (February 8, 2015)
All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition, published by Simon & Schuster (Simon 451), ISBN 978-1-4767-7652-1, first printing
Co-written with Jeff Rovin
  • I cannot abide red tape. It never strangles bad ideas, only good ones.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 14)
  • “How do you have a child without being terrified all the time?”
    “Well, that’s the big secret to parenting, Ben,” Caitlin whispered. “You are terrified all the time. You get used to it. It becomes part of the background. Except for the times when it stabs you through the heart.”
    He gazed at her a moment, then looked down at his menu.
    “That was probably the worst sales pitch ever for having kids,” he said.
    • Chapter 6 (pp. 49-50)
  • The United States ambassador’s proposal for a demilitarized zone between the nations had been met with derision in India, whose pundits pointed out that Pakistan could not even establish a de-terrorized zone within it own borders.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 65)
  • If irony were clean water, this would be a paradise.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 95)
  • “Do you think I am ill? Mentally?”
    “Not at all. I believe you had a reaction to something—”
    “Like an allergy? Peanuts? We don’t have food allergies in Haiti,” she said with disgust. “We cannot afford to.”
    • Chapter 13 (p. 106)
  • Is that the ultimate paradox of life, she wondered, that the universe should become less clear with age?
    • Chapter 15 (p. 121)
  • Every fictional character is based on someone. My English teacher told us that.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 180)
  • But “everyone knew” were words of death in scientific research.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 202)
All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition, published by Simon & Schuster (Simon 451), ISBN 978-1-4767-7655-2, first printing
Co-written with Jeff Rovin
  • Predawn has always been undervalued as a witching hour, she thought. Midnight, in prose and poem, had gotten all the glory. At this hour, though, people had to gather their lonely, enervated willpower and make the first choices of the day. For that you needed raw courage.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 3)
  • The universe doesn’t editorialize.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 4)
  • Familiarity helped to construct subterfuge.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 86)
  • “So,” Adrienne said. “You’re one of those.”
    “One of what?” Flora said, not turning her head.
    “One of those people who has a single success and takes that as a mandate to do anything you want.”
    • Chapter 16 (p. 175)
  • “I thought we had the conversation about my being uninterested in your opinions,” Flora said.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 175)
  • Flora chose that moment to selectively not hear.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 177)
  • “Dr. Davies, why are you obsessed with these?”
    “A scholar’s interest in the inexplicable.”
    “No,” Adrienne said. “A scholar would be publishing articles about these in journals, and asking every scientist and researcher she could contact for help with studying them.”
    Flora ignored her.
    “You’re keeping secrets,” Adrienne said.
    Again, she made no reply.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 181)
  • An archaeology group that hadn’t publicized one of the greatest finds in the history of the field was probably not to be trusted.
    • Chapter 20 (pp. 218-219)
  • It’s a fair bargain. Some trust, some distrust, in the end win win.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 252)

Quotes about Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson is one of a kind. She's lovely. She's a fantastic mother. A steadfast friend. More beautiful today than she's ever been. And a natural actor who was born to her art. ~ Chris Carter
I was looking for someone who had that kind of period look; I wanted the film to look like Singer Sargent portraits and I saw her extraordinary face and that kind of luminosity that one associated with Greer Garson in the late 40s. I just thought... she'll never meet me; she'll never say yes. ~ Terence Davies
Arranged alphabetically by author
Being with Gillian was like going to a surprise party. Gillian had an eight-line part in a French farce but turned it into a star role just by the attitude she brought to it. She has an incandescence. ~ Ric Murphy, Anderson's former teacher
One of the reasons why I thought she is the best actress of her generation is because she is incredibly focused, understated, truthful, detailed, intelligent, with an underpinning of emotion that she chooses, for the most part, to keep in check. ~ Allan Cubitt
I knew I was gay when I would stay up and watch Saturday Night Live, put on a wifebeater and lift weights. Also, I'd masturbate to Gillian Anderson in The X-Files... That's when my mom found out. ~ Kate McKinnon
One of the more unnerving things about Anderson is that no photographer has ever done her justice; in the flesh, she is 10 times more exquisite than on the page. ~ Rachel Cooke
  • Every time Gillian Anderson appears on the television, my wife looks at me like I'm mentally cheating on her.
  • She arrived as a surprise guest, and was charming and funny and utterly wonderful. On seeing her, I was as cool as you might expect, if by being cool means standing at the sides of the stage, unable to move my limbs in her direction. The many nights I'd spent with Agent Scully in my 20s, imaging our imaginary life together, left me flushed and embarrassment.
    • Susan Calman, on meeting Anderson on a comedy show for Comic ReliefDiva "The Second Mrs Calman" (July, 2015)
  • I had to fight for Gillian. Not because of her youth or relative inexperience, but because she didn't fit the network's or the studio's idea of the prime-time tootsie. She didn't have the usual assets they thought of in a TV man-woman relationship.
    • Chris Carter, on the casting of Anderson in The X-Files — reported in Justine Elias, The New York Times (October 1, 1996) "Ground Zero To 'X-Files' - Anderson Makes Rapid Rise To Become FOX Hit's 'It' Girl", Daily News of Los Angeles, p. L3.
  • I think she's got a wonderful stillness in her performances, so that she never seems to be acting particularly. She just brought a terrific sense of tragedy to this part, a woman who has spent her life being so contained, with almost no ability to express herself.
  • She's so remarkable. She's not one of those actors who just does her usual thing every time. She's completely different in everything she does – she even has a different voice in every role.
  • She's a fantastic amazing actress. That’s so evident in her work; in everything she has done – I think especially in The Fall, but she's so fun as well... For my money, she's really sweet and funny and easy and has really giggly childish side to her that comes out often on set. She's great and I can't say enough of good things about her. She's brilliant.
  • Gillian has beautiful eyes. Her eyes anchor me to the scene. They're big and they're blue and they're wet.
  • Gillian's a really hard working actress. I can tell you that much. A lot of times when I give up on a scene, she stays in there. She never doesn't try to do it as well as she can. That can be pretty inspiring. And infuriating.
    • David Duchovny — reported in Cindy Pearlman (November 8, 1998) "X-Files - The Truth Is Out There", Post-Tribune, p. D1.
  • I think that’s the fun of playing with such an iconic actress like Gillian Anderson who really expands to fill the vessel of whatever role she’s inhabiting. Working with her has been such a joy: A, I love her as a human being and find her to be such a bright spark of light, and B, it’s a ball to throw some absolutely ridiculous dialogue her way and see how it spins off the edge of her bat. If you are watching the show and you see a particularly bloated piece of dialogue, chances are it’s a direct quote from one of the Thomas Harris books that I’ve fetishized over in the process of making the show, and there are some doozies where I'm like, 'this is such a great line — I want to make it dialogue but it’s so over the top... I’ll give it to Gillian!' So that’s a joy.
  • I mean I was OBSESSED with The X-Files and I wanted to marry... She was the one person who I was like, 'We're gonna get married. One of these days, she and I will finally meet and this will finally happen.' So last night I was just sitting next to her like, [whispers] 'It's Gillian Anderson, oh my God.' I don't even know what I said or how I answered the questions; I was just looking at her like, 'She's so beautiful.'
  • I thought Gillian Anderson was amazing in The House of Mirth, also adapted from a Wharton novel. She should certainly have been nominated for an Oscar. Will you put that in, please? Every now and then I think there is huge injustice in our business.
  • I have to say something about Gillian Anderson before we go on. Have you seen her in The Fall? This is just an amazing actress, just an amazing actress. I just have to throw that in there. So she's had to sort of transcend Scully, I think, and she has.
  • "You've got to go for it, and once she had her confidence, it was as though there was nothing she could not do. To this day, she is one of the most remarkable performers I have had the privilege of working with, and I would work with her again in a second."
  • Skinner had a huge, huge, huge crush on Scully and that's why he was so pissed off at Mulder all the time, because he knew he didn’t have a chance and it was always there. And it was so easy; just looking at you. Because I had a crush on you! I ended up marrying her photo-double, so here you go. That's all I'm going to say about that.
  • When I did The X-Files I didn't have a lot to do with her, except when I was lying there dead. But she was so sweet; she welcomed me to the set, she thanked me for being a part of the show. An Amazing woman. I think she also broke boundaries, because on television she wasn’t this tall statuesque blonde that you would expected that the network would cast. They cast this really interesting, beautiful, nonetheless but interesting, intelligent woman. And I think she changed the way people perceived women on television, because she broke the mold. She wasn't what you expected and she ended being probably one of the most beautiful. So I have huge admiration for her.
  • I was very lucky to see the brilliant Gillian Anderson as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic in London the other night. She is just exceptional... what a power house.
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