If you've been wondering what happened to Gillian Anderson, the actress who played Agent Scully in The X-Files, she hasn't been abducted by aliens. The 37-year-old actress, who lived in England as a child, moved to London three years ago, where she's been pursuing a career on the West End stage and in low-budget, independent films. Anderson was in New York to publicize Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film in which she has a very small, but very funny, part. She is also in Bleak House on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre.
You've been going back and forth between Britain and America since you were a child. What part of you is most British, and what part is most American?
I get asked a lot in England whether I consider myself to be British, and I don't. But I identify with the British sense of humor, British way of talking, dealing with politics; many little aspects of British culture; it's more familiar to me than American. When I miss America, I miss the landscape.
Was one of the reasons for the move that you felt typecast as an actress in America?
That wasn't one of my initial choices, but what I have realized after spending more time there is that I feel understood there as an actor. I feel that they get me, and get the kind of actor I feel I am. The stuff I get offered is 180 degrees from Scully. Independent films, left, right and center; the characters are completely different from Scully. If a film were being made in America, even if I were on the list, I would have to audition for it.
You've just starred in a BBC version of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, which is being shown on PBS in America. Yet you've said you were reluctant to take another TV part. Was it because you felt burned by your American tube experience?
I was reluctant because at that point, when I started shooting it, I'd basically only done two plays since the series ended and three days on Tristram Shandy and a Northern Irish film that I knew American audiences would never see. So I was conscious of not being pigeonholed even more than I already had been into being a television actor. But I was talking to friends of mine who were in the business over there and who go from television to theater to film, and they said, "No, no, no, it's completely different, and it's OK."
There's talk that there will be another X-Files film. True?
Eventually there will be. We hope there is going to be.
It sounds like you're perfectly happy to be 3,000 miles away from the X-Files hordes, and that the move to England was a way to re-imagine yourself and your career.
Most definitely. I definitely was ready to get out. We were in a certain prison [making the show]; it was a certain prison in the hours and the intensity of these characters. ... I feel like there is an aspect of me that understands and feels more comfortable in, and is more understood just as a human being [in England]. And every one of my friends who comes to visit me in London says "Oh, my God, you're so at home." It completely makes sense to them why I'm there.