Gillian Anderson

May 16, 2013

I am Gillian Anderson - AMA!

Hi everybody, it's Gillian. I'm excited to take your questions for the next hour or so. Let's get the ball rolling!

( proof! )

EDIT: I'm so sorry, I have run out of time. Thank you SO Much to everyone who joined in and asked a question! I would love to have you check out what I have coming up next.

Tonight is HANNIBAL, the episode is called "Fromage." 10 pm / 9c.

And on May 21st, SHADOW DANCER hits theaters in America.

And on May 28th, THE FALL is on Netflix.

And look out for I'LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN, which should be on theaters later this year, and SOLD (another movie I did) which should hopefully be in theaters later this year, and MISTER MORGAN'S LAST LOVE.

You can also always find me on Facebook or Twitter too.

Thank you all, again, so much for fabulous questions.

I know this is overdone and probably annoying by now, but thank you for being a role model to thousands of girls from all over the world.

Literally Scully is the reason why I (and a plethora of friends) became scientists and constantly challenge society's gender roles.

Only you could have made that Special Agent oh so fucking special.

Venturing into the unknown equipped with only a government issued flashlight and some serious wit and logic, Scully gave more hope to young women everywhere than David Duchovny's sex addiction announcement.

Even 20 years later, you still inspire hard-work, perseverance, and teamwork to us fans.

You're my hero.

Occasionally, I will turn on The X-Files and still be overwhelmed with that amalgamating feeling of excitement, creeped out, and mentally sparred.

Unexplained phenomenon will never be looked at the same.

Now, for my question, what is your favorite snack?

First of all, I am so MOVED and touched by that little monologue. I just think that is awesome. Anytime that a woman stands in front of me and says that they (because of Scully) decided to become a forensic pathologist, or a scientist, my heart skips a beat. I just think it's the most awesome thing, and my favorite snack is always and forever chili chocolate.

I started watching The X-Files in 2006, when I was in high school. Even though I got into the show late in the game, it became my favorite TV show of all time and has inspired me to go into film/tv production, so I can hopefully ensure that more characters like Scully can exist. Scully was my inspiration through my high school years and is still my favorite TV show character because of this.

That is really awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that with me, I love to hear that, I'm really grateful.

Well, my heart just skipped a beat... Gillian Anderson likes chili chocolate too!

I'm eating it right now! The best chili chocolate is by the South Devon Chilli Farm - they even have MINT and ESPRESSO chili chocolate. If their sales pick up, they have to give it to me for free because i literally carry it in my purse every day.

The Fall, Hannibal, and The X-Files all feature you playing women with careers in criminal investigation, criminal behavior, or the unknown. If you could choose only one---either Detective Gibson, Dr. Du Maurier, or Special Agent Scully---to spearhead a team investigating a crime that for some reason or another remains unsolved, who would you choose?

You can include your personal aspirations for the development of Gibson and Du Maurier, since they don't have as long a history with viewers as Scully :)

Wow... gosh, I am going to have to say Gibson, just to give her a chance. Because currently we have only seen 5 hours of her, and you'll only 5 hours of her for another year or so, so I am going to choose Gibson just in order to give her more airtime in her life, but also because I have a feeling that she is the best of the best.

  1. You are amazing.
  2. You will be filming Crisis in Chicago, were born in Chicago, and are a DePaul grad. Anything you really like about the city?
  3. Was Scully always supposed to be a redhead or was she because you were at the time?

And are amazing. Can't say it enough!! I'm excited to watch The Fall on Netflix :)

Edit: I have died and gone to fangirl heaven.

I wasn't a redhead at the time, I was mousy brown, and I am very glad that somebody had the idea to add a bit of color to my life. And I haven't spent much time in Chicago since I graduated from college; I am so excited to investigate how the city has grown since then. My sister lives there with her illegal wife and my mom lives nearby and I am seeing this as a new adventure.

Do you feel that your opinion on aliens and those that believe they exist changed after doing the X-Files? If so, how?

No, I have always believed in things of a paranormal nature, and I don't think that it got any stronger from being involved in the show, and I don't think it's either strengthened or weakened since then.

Thank you for doing this AMA!

Thank you again and look forward to your responses!

I don't know if this is considered nerding out, but when I see a REALLY, really good film, no matter what country it comes from or how much they spent on it, I love good film. And I get SO excited over something - not just film, but any form of the creative arts - film, theater, television I guess - if I am moved by something, I become a geek and can't stop talking about it.

There were times at 3 oclock in the morning where we had to regurgitate some highly intellectual snippets of truth, and we'd get just completely slap-happy with exhaustion and a sense of the ludicrousness that we were doing for a living, and we would be struck with bouts of uncontrollable laughter. That's what I remember the most.

For Dr. just occurred to me in my mind as I was reading the script and contemplating just the type of woman that needed to be sitting across from this paticular man, that there was one way to play it. And that one way only. And that's what I hope that I've done. I've never put it into words why - it's just it's Hannibal Lecter, for crying out loud, and that's all I can say really.

For the podcast, please PM me and I'll forward to my publicist!

Thank you for being my first crush.


You're welcome! Anytime.

You're welcome! Anytime.

I'll be your second crush too.

What's the one episode of X-Files that made you go, "what the Fuck??"

Also, I enjoy your role in Hannibal. Such an amazing group of writers...

Um, I have to say that probably in my poor memory, the one that sticks out the most is the one that a lot of people responded to - which was HOME. The thought of having a paraplegic mother on a roll-out cot under the bed, who may or may not be having sex with her 3 troglodyte sons, is about as twisted as our series ever got I think. And then there were the babies buried in the garden...

Placing my bets on "Home", who's in?

You win!

How'd you find out about Reddit/who convinced you to do an AMA?

Last book you read and it does it represent your preference?

Last person you "geeked out" about meeting/want to meet but haven't yet?

I'd say it was Victoria at ID who I work with suggested it, and she has her finger on the pulse of contemporary digital stuff.

The last book I read - I only just recently read A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD - oh my god I LOVED this book. I found that there are moments in the story in this book that are so profound, that I was moved to tears. I love being moved to tears in literature, and this book had me from page 1 and I think that this writer is so talented.

I'd say probably Meryl Streep. I met her last year at the BAFTAS. I was pretending not to be very nervous, tried to play it really cool, and wanted to sit next to her and just talk to her about her work and the craft of acting for hours and I'm sure I said really embarrassing things instead.

Hi Gillian,

Who were some of your teachers (acting or otherwise) who really influenced your craft, and in what way did they do so?

Thank you for sharing your talent.

p.s. Wow, you're beautiful.

First of all, thank you. There was an acting teacher at the Goodman Theater School in Chicago who was called Rick Murphy, and he was this really cool, suave, bald, sexy, intellectual - just Alpha male with a feminine side. Every girl that went to the college had a crush on him, mostly because he was SO good at his job. He inspired people; he made us want to be as good as we could possibly be. He drew out of us our potential, and that is the mark of a good teacher.

Hey there Gillian!

First I just wanted to say that I'm a huge fan, my mom practically raised me on X-Files (probably a poor choice in hindsight haha) and it's great to see you doing this AMA.

Just a couple quick questions.

1: The props and creature designs on X-Files were always really fantastic. Did you or anyone else get to take anything particularly cool from the show?

2: Do you still have a relationship with any of the cast members from X-Files?

3: Any advice or warnings for someone whose looking to get into acting?


1) Yes. I stole many things. I have - what do I have? - a Lazarus Bowl. The most amazing thing that i have is Scully's Tombstone. I have Scully's Tombstone. I have little things from many episodes, and eventually, a good portion of them will probably be auctioned off for charity.

2) I do. I just saw Mitch recently at a Comic-Con in Calgary, always lovely to see him. I have an email relationship with David, we don't get to see each other very much but we communicate. Chris Carter remains a good friend. Dina Green who did my hair for years is a good friend. Carol Banker who was the script supervisor and is now a very talented director - she is one of my closest friends.

3) Patience.

You meet a lot of fans and it must be a bit wild to see how obsessed with The X-Files (etc) they are. Are you a big fan of anything on a similar level? (music, movies, art, TV, whatever)

Also, I can't resist telling you that I really appreciate your work. I started watching The X-Files at a very young age. I wrote my college admissions essay on how Dana Scully fostered my interest in science and why I wanted to major in Biology. I've watched Bleak House in its entirety several times and am always impressed with your performance!

Not really - I think I've been more a fan of music and bands, that's the only way I can relate it to anything. I'm a Huge fan of Radiohead, and I think that that's as close as I've ever gotten following where someone is going to be, and whether i can get to the concert, and that's really it.

And thank you SO, so much!

Thank you so much for taking your time to do this AMA! Me and my girlfriend are huge fans of yours and have been waiting for this since we first heard of it. We have a thousand questions, but here's two of them. :)

If they make it, I will come.

Hmm, most challenging... I'd probably have to say Miss Havisham in GREAT EXPECTATIONS, just because of the intricacy of how I was choosing to play the character - it felt like it took about as much of me as I've ever put into anything, I think.

You once said, while on BBC's "Desert Island", that you tend to associate given moments of your life with songs. Today, what would be the songs that define your life?

Wow - you know what I love listening to that makes me so happy when I'm driving? The band EMPIRE OF THE SUN, I think the song is "We are the People" - that makes me very happy.

Hello! Two quick questions:

Hard-hitting questions, I know.


Yes, I love going to museums with my daughter. Whenever we get a chance, we check out exhibits together, and often go to more obscure or lesser known galleries like The Wellcome Museum - check it out online, it's really cool. A few weeks ago I was in London and went there - they have a Japanese outsider art exhibit, with inmates of an insane asylum in Japan, and there are just some awesome pieces in there. I also support the Foundling Museum - check that out online - I won't go into it, it's just one of the coolest museums in London.

Oh gosh... no, but I just thought of another one of my all-time favorite songs, which will be played at my funeral, and that will be the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

And then there's a Martha Wainwright song...called "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" - that actually might be the song of 2012.

What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself with nothing planned?

I'm not good with nothing planned. I plan WEEKS in advance. And the reason is, there's a day that is totally empty - I literally have my days planned out until the middle of July right now - who I'm meeting for coffee, where I'm taking the kids, acupuncture, all of the frivolous things I fill my time with in-between meaningful work. If I don't plan, I will literally be under the covers unable to get out of bed. I'm either doing, or I'm paralyzed.

Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert? How has that influenced your endeavors (career/relationships/etc.)?

Are you a feminist? Why or why not? And do you have a favourite feminist leader?

(I wish I could simply have a conversation with you about literature and music, but alas--this is Reddit and I must relinquish my turn!)

Good question! I am extreme versions of both. I'm a consummate hermit - it's very hard to get me out of the house - but when I do, if I'm at a party or a dinner, I'm extroverted. The rest of the time, I'm a hermit.

Regarding feminism, I think it's complicated but I appreciate how much my work has inspired women and how much women inspire me.

How hilarious is Rowan Atkinson off-camera?

Not very. He is a lovely, lovely man, but his talent is when the camera is rolling. Otherwise, he is very quiet and considered, and what he does in front of the camera does not emanate from his everyday self.

Do you have pets? If so, tell us about them!

We are going to have goldfish, but that's about as much as I can handle. I don't know when we are buying the goldfish yet, and I am about to be gone a lot, so we might have to rethink the goldfish.

Hi Gillian! Whenever you have a show like X-Files that gets hugely popular among us geeks, some of us tend to go way overboard. Do you still appreciate the X-Files popularity, or is it more like "If one more geek yells Scully at me I'm going to stab someone"?

I have decided to do a year's worth of Comic-Cons in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the X-files. And it's the first time that I'm spending this type of one-on-one time with fans. And it's been so wonderful to be able to also thank the fans for having been fans for such a long time, and to meet one-on-one some of the people who kept us on the air for so long. And one of the things that I'm finding the coolest ever is people who bring their kids - teenagers - who have been introduced to the show, now that they're old enough to be introduced to my own favorite series. And they get to watch it again but with their 12 year olds, and re-experience it, so that we're getting a whole new generational fanbase. And I just can't tell you how excited that makes me.

I have decided to do a year's worth of Comic-Cons in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the X-files. And it's the first time that I'm spending this type of one-on-one time with fans. And it's been so wonderful to be able to also thank the fans for having been fans for such a long time, and to meet one-on-one some of the people who kept us on the air for so long. And one of the things that I'm finding the coolest ever is people who bring their kids - teenagers - who have been introduced to the show, now that they're old enough to be introduced to my own favorite series. And they get to watch it again but with their 12 year olds, and re-experience it, so that we're getting a whole new generational fanbase. And I just can't tell you how excited that makes me.

And I can't wait to share it with my boys- because it just occurred to me that there will be a time when they come to me and say "Hey Mom, people keep telling us about this show that you were on, called the X-something - can we watch that too?" That will be a day - however it is that it will be beamed into our future household - we'll sit down on our levitating couch, and I will screen the pilot episode in front of Oscar and Felix.

Hi Gillian! You are an amazing human being and have been a huge role model to millions of people, so thank you for doing this and giving us all the opportunity to ask you questions!

Thank you again!

Firstly - I can't decide on just one, so sorry.

Secondly - I have played quite a few antagonistic roles, and I don't know if that what made her fun, but what made it fun for me as an actor was trying to figure out by watching old footage of her and trying to get her speech mannerisms down and the dialect right - she had a very bizarre accent - and that's the kind of stuff that I find fun, is trying to get into the embodiment of somebody - when you actually have the luxury of being able to watch how they work. I'm not sure if I've ever had that experience before, I think that was the first time that I've played a historical character, and I found that that process is obviously daunting and terrifying - but it was also creatively stimulating.

Will we ever see you on Californication?

Talk to David.

Can you tell us anything at all about Never After? It looks fantastic!

So a group of women are trying to start a British TV series that is based on the original fairy tales - apparently, the original fairy tales like Red Riding Hood, etc. are different than the ones that we have come to know. And they are fascinated by the idea of fairy tales, and what they were originally intended for, which was (in part) encouraging children to be fearless, to face their fears. So they want to film with various celebrities episodes that are hosted about the various fairy tales as they were originally told. Apparently in the original Red Riding Hood there were originally 2 wolves...

What's your favourite flavour of muffin?

I prefer scones. And every time I go to Los Angeles, because they don't sell them in the London Starbucks, but in the Starbucks in LA, they have those Oat-Nut Scones with the Maple Frosting - oh my god. I literally will buy 2 of them, eat one and then carry one around in my purse for days even if it's as hard as a rock 3 days later.

What's the funniest thing that's happened to you on set?

There were a few takes - this isn't the funniest thing, I can't think of anything else though - where I was calling Rowan Atkinson's character Johnny English, where I was calling him "Rowan English" - and they kept cutting and I hadn't caught on to why they were cutting...

How did you like working in Vancouver? Or anywhere else for that matter? Please, any wacky anecdote!

I loved working in Vancouver, it's such a great town to be filming in in the Summertime. And anecdotes... the particular weather that contributes to making Vancouver so green in the summertime, meant that we were filming under ALL weather circumstances. So I would be in high heels and a skirt filming outside on ice, walking under an umbrella in sleet, hoping my hair didn't frizz up and pretending that I wasn't practically ice skating during a walk-and-talk conversation about how somebody's insides had been hung from a tree...

Is the truth really out there? Also have you completely grown out of your punk roots or is there still a little anarchist in there?

There is definitely an anarchist in there.

The truth is in all of us, no matter what truth we're talking about, whether it's about having integrity in your life and being willing to admit mistakes and tell the truth under all circumstances, or whether it's trying to track down the truth in political mumbo-jumbo, or whether we're talking about the truth of whether there are aliens on this planet. It all comes from the same place.

What was it like meeting Wil Wheaton?

Did he totally go nerd weird?

He's SUCH a sweetie! Yeah, he got a little nerd-weird. But just darling. Really, really darling and lovely man.

I don't have a question, I just wanted to say I love love loved the X files, and I'm hoping you'll acknowledge my existence.

You exist! I'm telling you right here, right now, you exist!

Obviously, big fan of you in X-files but now I'm really hooked on Hannibal, so I want to ask you a few questions. Are you having bigger role in the series as it goes towards a finale? What do you think of the show in generall? I really think it's one the best TV series airing right now even if the ratings are not so great. I'm really glad you're part of it, casting is really flawless. How was it to work with Mads Mikkelsen? You really seems great together on the screen.

For as long as HANNIBAL runs, and until Hannibal eats me, I will continue to do a few episodes a year. I think it's darker than even I can stomach, but it has its audience and it is so beautifully shot and the performances from Mads and Hugh and the whole team are just phenomenal and I am so happy they are getting the attention they deserve. Mads is SUCH a talented actor - it's almost like he wears his emotions on his sleeve, but not all the time - when he decides that he needs to, he has such access to his emotional life and it is just really incredible. He can do everything with just his eyes.

Hi...One of my "Bucket List" items is to see you on stage...any chance of that happening soon on Broadway?


Not on Broadway, I'm desperately trying to get together a production of STREETCAR in London. Keep an eye out.

What's your favorite animal, and what super power would you choose?

My new favorite animal is the tiger in THE CROODS. I swear to god, if they don't make a stuffed version of it for kids and grown ups, I am going to have to do start a petition.

I would choose time travel.

First off I'm a big fan; Scully was an inspiration to me in my high school years and beyond, and you were incredible in Bleak House (which is my favorite book of all time).

Was there a moment when you realized just how iconic The X-Files was becoming, and how big it was going to be?

I think there was a moment, maybe in the 3rd season is when it started to hit me. I don't know about iconic, but I started to realize that I needed to hold onto my seat.

Have you ever seriously considered working with Simon Pegg?

I HAVE worked with Simon Pegg! I did "How to Lose Friends And Alienate People" - proof!

Hi! Wanted ask and I am curious...would you ever consider writing a book?

Yes. I will definitely write a fiction before I'm 70, and then at some point in my 70s I will write an autobiography, but I have a tiny problem (which is a massive problem as far as autobiographies are concerned) - my memory. I will need people who were around at the time to tell me how it really happened.

I personally feel this AMA is implausible Mulder.

"I wasn't sure your little fingers could reach the keyboard?"

What was it like working with Vince Gilligan, and what do you think of Breaking Bad's success?

Also, "the springfield files" remains to this day the funniest Simpsons episode i've ever seen.

Vince Gilligan is one of the most talented writers I have ever met, and one of the sweetest men in existence, and it's so incongruous that the material of BREAKING BAD is spawned from the likes of this seemingly innocent Virginia nerd. I am so happy for him and for the success of his show.

I don't have a question but I wanted to say thank you to you, David Duchovny and Chris Carter. Your show was what really bonded my father and I, during my childhood. I can still remember the two of us sitting down to watch the pilot together. He's not here anymore and watching The X-Files with him was some of the best memories I have.

Aw, thank you for sharing that.

How delicious was the Hamburger you had to eat in the first episode of THE FALL?

Was your Miss Castaway dress quite heavy? It looked intense.

More like, how delicious was the FIRST hamburger that I had to eat in the first episode of THE FALL..?

Yes, it was like wearing chain mail that they layer upon you - fabric and trinkets. Thank you for watching it!

Hi Gillian. First thing’s first. I love the work you have done for organisations like NF, SA-YES and Fezka! Your on screen presence is amazing, and a joy to watch. So just Thank you. (I am guilty of starting /r/GillianAnderson)

Thank you for saying thank you!

Is it true that most of the time whilst filming the X-files, you were standing on boxes to match David's height?

Yes. In fact, in Vancouver they created something called "The Gilly-Board" which was a ramped apple box (what actors normally stand on to raise their height) so that I could be walking beside him and we could stand next to each other so that we would be approximately the same height. Apparently it still exists and is used for other productions, and is still called the Gilly-Board.

Thanks so much for doing this! I only have one question:

You, along with the majority of the former cast and crew, have expressed a large interest in doing the third X-Files film. As fans, what are ways that we can legitimately push for this? There are a number of 'petitions' and Twitter campaigns, but I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for ways that we are most likely to be heard.

Thanks again!

I would say that there is a very good chance that Chris is in the process of writing it, and as with any creative endeavor, it needs time and space and patience, and I have no doubt that at some point, when it's the right time, and he is happy with it, it will see the light of day, and that will be the beginning.

Looking at your proof pic, I have only one question. How do you manage to look so gorgeous every decade? I mean when the show started, I was six and had a crush on you and now I am 26 and you still give me flutters, lol.

I'm flattered, thank you.

I read an interview you did recently in a psychology magazine, and you said something about allowing oneself to be uncomfortable during difficult times, and I appreciated it a lot. I was wondering if you had any advice on getting through one's early twenties or any words of wisdom or something like that haha. Thanks!

Different decades of one's life bring with it different levels of discomfort, and the overriding thing to remember is that the only constant in life is change.

And the only thing to do is to keep showing up, being the best version of yourself that you can be. And the rest is out of your hands completely.

What was the most fun episode of the X-files to film? Were there any major pranksters on the set?

Me! I went through a phase where I liked tweezing people's facial hairs, mostly the men who had bushy eyebrows and hairs coming out of their ears and nose.

What projects are you currently working on? Miss seeing you on the big screen, any movies coming up?

SHADOW DANCER is about to be released to American audiences on May 21st in theaters. HANNIBAL is airing tonight at 10 PM / 9 Central. And THE FALL is on Netflix starting May 28th. And keep your eyes open for a film I did called I'LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN with Rufus Sewell and Hailey Osment.

Hey Gillian! My older sister is a big fan of X-Files, and this question is from her.

"If William came back as a character, what actor should play him?"

Thanks for doing this AMA and I hope you answer for her!

That IS a good question. You know who I think would be good, but he might be too old, the kid who was in THE IMPOSSIBLE, Tom Holland - he's 17, too old. Darn. I need to think about it.

Besides London, what are your favorite places around the world?

I love Calcutta. I did a film there called SOLD last year, and I fell in love with it, and I've been to India many times, but it made me want to explore more of India and go to Faranasi and Jaipur and all these spiritual places I've never been to. I spend a lot of time in Sri Lanka, which is a very beautiful country. Various countries in Africa; I'm dying to go to Berlin, I've never been there (although my daughter has!) and I've heard it's one of the coolest cities in the world.

I can confidently say that I would never have become a scientist without your influence.

I became aware of the X-Files quite late, in 2008, my last year of high school. I had always loved science, but I didn't have a good high school education in the topic and I thought that I was too stupid to be a scientist. However, your performance really emphasized that a lot of scientific inquiry is about NOT knowing the truth - and merely having the passion to chase knowledge until you find it in a place that no one else has looked.

In 2012, I graduated as valedictorian of my university with a degree in Biology. Now I have completed one year out of six towards my PhD in Skeletal Biology.

The X-Files aside, the performances that have really captivated me in recent years have been your historical dramas. I was blown away by your Lady Deadlock in Bleak House and your Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. I was crushed that I studied abroad in England a semester too late to see you in A Doll's House!

So my question for your AMA is: What historical or literary figure would you like to play next?

I would love to do Lady MacBeth. I would love to do Martha in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? and eventually I would like to do Hedda Gabler. But first, would be Blanche Dubois. I need to figure out what is the right order in terms of the character's ages that I what to do them. And seeing as I'm talking about theater - I only do plays every 3 years or so- one of them is going to be in my 60s and I need to figure out what is most appropriate.

Did you really eat the cricket in that circus episode of X-files, or was it just a magic trick?

It was a magic trick called spitting when cut.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Gillian Anderson conducted on Reddit on 2013-05-16. The Reddit AMA can be found here.