It was the 60th London Evening Standard Awards, and the nominations for the Natasha Richardson award for Best Actress were as impressive as they were varied. In addition to the 46-year-old actress, nominated for her role as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Gillian Anderson was joined by Helen McCrory for Medea, Kristin Scott Thomas for Electra, Billie Piper for Great Britain, and Tanya Moodie for her role in Intimate Apparel. The moment of truth arrived and the actress, most recently known for her role as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier on television’s Hannibal, was announced as the award winner. Mail Online reports that she was confident, as well as ecstatic, as she took the stage to accept the award in front of a celebrity-filled audience.
In the wake of receiving the Natasha Richardson award for Best Actress, Anderson spoke with Express and reflected on her life and career. Gillian revealed a childhood spent moving from place to place, having been born in Chicago, but had moved to Puerto Rico and then to North London, all before her twelfth birthday. She again ended up back in the United States in her teens, where some children in her small midwest town bullied her for her English accent. It was this kind of bullying and teasing that taught her to change her accent and speech patterns at will, a talent that would later benefit her in other ways, when she would choose to make a career out of acting and theater.
It started with a school play. She was in love with theater, but destiny had determined another path for her entirely. It was little more than two years after Anderson had moved to Los Angeles that she auditioned for a sci-fi television series, The X-Files.
“For the first time in a long time it involved a strong, independent, intelligent woman as a lead character,” Gillian Anderson says of the role.
Chris Carter, the show’s creator, was in love with her portrayal of FBI agent Dana Scully. In spite of studio executives pressuring Carter to find an actress with more sex appeal, The X-Files creator insisted that Gillian was perfect for the role.
Gillian Anderson further reflects on her experience with The X-Files, recalling that she was troubled with post-natal depression, the end of a three-year marriage, and a hectic filming schedule.
“I’m exhausted by the series,” Gillian said of The X-Files in the late 1990s. “I would like to do different characters.”
Her desire for versatility was answered when the show ended and she found herself being in the position of being able to pick and choose which roles she accepted. Her next role in The House Of Mirth, a romantic tragedy, established her versatility and negated a fear of being typecast. She won a British Independent Film Award for best actress for the film.
Thinking back on her career and responding to what advice she might give to herself, she replied:
“I think I was pretty hard on myself. There were definitely periods that I felt discouraged. It felt like it was endless rejection. But if I look back at everything I accomplished in a short time, it’s pretty cool.”
Looking forward to seeing Gillian Anderson in a new X-Files film? So is she.