What You Didn't Know About Gillian Anderson

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Gillian Anderson made a huge impression on television audiences during her time featured on the hit sci-fi series "The X-Files," but that was just the start of her contribution to the world of performing. After a decade playing FBI special agent Dana Scully, the irrepressible actor earned many more memorable roles, allowing Anderson to showcase her talent in numerous ways. She starred as Stella Gibson in "The Fall," as Anna Pavlova Scherer in "War and Peace," as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier in "Hannibal," as Jean Milburn in "Sex Education," and as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Crown," among many other roles.

At least once, deception played into the reason Anderson nabbed a certain role. Yes, it's true. She fibbed about her age in order to be cast as Dana Scully in "The X-Files." During her initial audition, the star said she was 27 when she was really just 24. "I had no experience whatsoever," Anderson relayed to NPR. "I had only ever done a couple of plays and scenes in college. If [Scully] comes across as being a little bit cocky and at the same time green, it's all real. It's me trying to pretend like I know that I am the person that I say I am."

No doubt, Gillian Anderson has become a storied actor who is able to play a wide range of roles, but she's not the same as any of her characters. To get to know more about this complex performer, read on. 

Gillian Anderson is bidialectal

Gillian Anderson is bidialectal, an obscure term that means being "proficient in or using two dialects of the same language" (per Dictionary.com). In Anderson's case, she can speak in American English and British English rather seamlessly. The Guardian explained that "when in the U.S., she speaks in an American accent, but [in England] she sounds completely British." 

Even more surprising, the actor admitted that she cannot control her accents. She told The Guardian about a time when she was in Los Angeles and decided she was "going to see what it's like to talk among Americans with a British accent..." Her experiment went awry. "I felt so uncomfortable. It felt so disingenuous, and I kept thinking they must think I'm a complete tw*t." 

Still, as the thespian who plays an American in "The X-Files" and a Brit in "The Crown," Anderson is naturally capable of using the correct accent for each role. The reason she became bidialectal is that she spent her youth on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in Chicago, the actor had a short stint in Puerto Rico and moved to London's North End when she was very young, spending much of her childhood there. Her family relocated back to the Midwest by the time Anderson was 11 but would visit London during the summer, per The Guardian.

Her high school antics went down in history

Gullian Anderson "was voted most likely to get arrested in high school" by her classmates. The multifarious actor talked to NPR about why she was given this superlative. "I had started to become interested in the punk scene [in London] and started to dress differently [from the way] a lot of the kids in Grand Rapids, Mich., were dressing." She shared some of the eye-catching changes she made to her appearance, which included getting her nose pierced, shaving her head, and wearing black from head to toe. 

Meanwhile, Anderson admitted, "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. So the mixture of those two things contributed, no doubt, to that vote."

On the night this character graduated from high school, her peers were proven correct. She was arrested. Anderson explained that she had an older boyfriend and had "convinced him that we should go and glue the locks of the school so that people couldn't get in in the morning." As the story goes, this prank did not go unrewarded, because a security guard had been stationed on campus for just such shenanigans, revealed the girl who handily fulfilled the promise as the student Most Likely to be Arrested.

Gillian Anderson won two Emmys

Gillian Anderson may have been green when she was cast as FBI special agent Dana Scully in "The X-Files," but she sure did win over her peers when it came time to determine who took home Emmy Awards in 1997. Her competition for the prize — which included "ER's" Julianna Margulies and "Touched By An Angel's" Roma Downey — was tough, but at the ceremony, Anderson ultimately grabbed the iconic golden trophy in the outstanding lead actress in a drama series category.

Still, this heralded thespian's Emmy awards winning streak was not over. More than two decades later, Anderson won the 2021 Emmy in the best supporting actress category for her Season 4 performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Netflix's "The Crown." Again, she was up against some stiff competition, including fellow cast mates Helena Bonham Carter and Emerald Fennell. Besides those two accomplished actors, Anderson also triumphed over "The Handmaid's Tale's" Samira Wiley, Madeline Brewer, and Ann Dowd. 

Of note: When Anderson gave her acceptance speech for her "The Crown" win, the posh English accent she used in the Netflix series had disappeared, to be replaced by a plain 'ole American accent. In response, some members of the Twitterverse were dumbfounded. One person tweeted, "I'm so mind blown rn. I thought she was British this whole time omg."

Gillian Anderson's love life

Gillian Anderson can spit out a laundry list of past relationships. She discussed notable ones from her youth with Out magazine, claiming a lesbian relationship in high school was followed by partnering with "a punk rock drug addict" and "somebody who was way, way older than" she was. "I don't think I've ever followed convention by choice. By default, maybe, but not by choice," she admitted to Out.

Anderson did marry. Her first husband was a crew member on "The X-Files" whom she wed during the show's second season. She and husband Clyde Klotz quickly became a family of three when she gave birth to daughter Piper. That marriage, which lasted about five years, was tested by the, um, conspiracy theory that she was involved with co-star David Duchovny (she wasn't – at least not yet!). In 2004, she married a second time to Julian Ozanne, then a journalist working for the Financial Times. That union lasted two years.

No more weddings took place for this star, but Anderson did have two more long-term relationships: One with Mark Griffiths (father to her sons, Oscar and Felix) and one with Peter Morgan. The latter, who happened to work with her on "The Crown" (given he created the show), lasted four years, before the couple broke up at the end of 2020 having never shared a domicile. Calling David Duchovny!

Her relationship with David Duchovny

Gillian Anderson's relationship with David Duchovny can be likened to riding a teeter totter. One day they were up, the next day they were down, and sometimes they refused to get on at all. But consider this: For a very long time, Anderson and Duchovny were stuck on a Vancouver set, sometimes in the freezing cold, for what probably seemed like forever. So, while their on-screen chemistry was never called into question, their real-life interactions didn't always live up to the TV standard. Anderson told The Guardian that, at times, they "hated each other." Hastily revising her statement, she admitted, "Hate is too strong a word. We didn't talk for long periods of time. ...we were both pains in the arse for the other at various times." 

Duchovny concurred, especially as the years wore on while they continued to embody Mulder and Scully. Duchovny told Metro, "Familiarity breeds contempt. It's nothing to do with the other person. We used to argue about nothing. ... We couldn't stand the sight of each other." He said that by the time the two returned to their characters for "The X-Files Movie," they were no longer in contact with each other. Still, the actor remained fond of Anderson, saying, "When you spend that much time with someone it doesn't feel like you've been apart. She's like my sister." Again, Anderson agreed with her co-star, telling The Guardian in 2015 that she and he were "closer today than [they had] ever been."

Dana Scully appears on three shows

Gillian Anderson has enjoyed the unique experience of seeing her beloved character, FBI Special Agent Dana Scully, appear on three different series. Beyond "The X-Files," Scully has also been featured on "Eek! The Cat" and "The Simpsons."

In 1995 on "Eek! The Cat," Anderson voiced Scully in a cartoon rendition that captures an obscure cameo of Mulder, who believes in UFOs and conspiracies, and Scully, who does not. However, in this instance, something spooks her, causing Scully to run, screaming, "I believe. I believe," as she heads into the arms of her cohort, Fox Mulder — exaggerated nose and all — during the final seconds of the Season 4 episode dubbed Eek Space 9.

On "The Simpsons" during Season 8 Episode 10, David Duchovny joined Anderson to voice their "X-Files" characters. In this instance, Mulder and Scully show up in Springfield to investigate Homer's alien sighting, which happens after he gets sauced at Moe's and decides to walk home through the woods. There, he sees an alien who tells the drunk man not to be afraid. After hearing what Homer has to say about the incident, the FBI agents run him through a series of ridiculous tests, and then go to the scene of his alleged encounter where, of course, nothing happens. The pair deem this the worst assignment they have ever handled and, ultimately, Scully and Mulder bring their determination home by rocking "Homer is a Dope" T-shirts.  

Gillian Anderson did not initially impress Fox

Fox gave Gillian Anderson a hard time. At first, the network didn't want to hire her to play FBI special agent Dana Scully. Anderson's official bio reads, "The executives at Fox wanted someone with less radiance and more sex-appeal cast in the role of Scully, but writer-director Chris Carter insisted that Gillian had the no-nonsense integrity that the role required." But then, when she became pregnant, they wanted to recast her character on "The X-Files." Creator Chris Carter intervened, refusing to let the big brass change actors. "Part of the show's success is the audience's investment in these characters," he said, as relayed in Anderson's official bio. She admitted that her pregnancy "was a bit of a bombshell for [the Fox executives]. It wasn't in my contract not to get pregnant, but it is now."

Meanwhile, Carter worked hard to prove to Fox that keeping Anderson while waiting for her first child to arrive would work. Initially, wardrobe assigned her baggy clothes to detract from her growing belly, and props were used for her to hide behind. Then, when Anderson was on what amounted to a very brief maternity leave, the storyline had Scully being abducted by aliens. In a genius move by the writers, Season 2's sixth episode, "Ascension," aired footage of Anderson's actual pregnant belly, owing to obscure tests aliens conducted while she was, er, away. Thankfully, the new mom had a stunt double to perform her character's physically taxing scenes when she came back.

What is the Scully Effect?

Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully character on "The X-Files" affected fans in all kinds of ways, but one in particular sparked a most impressive interest that resulted in a phenomenon called the Scully Effect. Say what?  Since "Scully was one of the first multidimensional female characters in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field to be featured on a popular television show, and the first to play a leading role," her television presence had an unprecedented effect, reports The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

In a 2018 study with 21st Century Fox and J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, the Institute found that of their female participants familiar with Dana Scully, 63% said the character "increased their belief in the importance of STEM." 63% of women in STEM specifically viewed Scully as their role model, and half of the women familiar with her character were more interested in STEM because of Scully. These were only a few of the hypotheses measured in the survey. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media stated, "In the world of entertainment media, where scientists are often portrayed as white men wearing white coats and working alone in labs, Scully stood out in the 1990s as the only female STEM character in a prominent, primetime television role." 

Some women clearly wanted to be like Dana Scully, with many studying in fields typically dominated by men. Gillian Anderson shared in a YouTube video for "The X-Files" channel that she had met FBI agents, law enforcement officials, and doctors who were inspired by her character.

Gillian Anderson doesn't share all her work with her kids

The first time Gillian Anderson appears in "Sex Education," a popular Netflix series The New York Times calls "a funny, raunchy British dramedy," she has just arrived at the family kitchen where her teenage son, Otis, is making toast. Anderson's character is Jean Milburn, a sex and relationship therapist who has presumably spent the night shagging a man much younger than herself. In fact, the other party joins mother and son for a cup of coffee before the boy asks if his mom's date has an Oedipus Complex, sending the newcomer speeding away on his motorcycle. 

The Netflix series, which originally bowed in 2019, comes with all kinds of warnings — including nudity, language, sex, and even smoking — as part of the package. No wonder Anderson "hopes" her kids have not tuned in. When she appeared on The RadioTimes Podcast in 2021, the 53-year-old actor actually admitted her three children — Piper, Felix, and Oscar — could be watching "Sex Education." Not at her behest, though. "I'm living happily in the denial that my children do not watch the show." Sounds like a great way to handle a sticky situation.

Her connection to Goose Island Beer Co.

Ever heard of Goose Island Beer? Gillian Anderson fans probably have, since the actor was one of the former Chicago company's first employees. In fact, two craft beers have been named after her, states Vinepair. A saison was called "Scully" and a saison seasoned with strawberry, white pepper, and honey was called "Gillian." 

But how did this come boozy situation come to pass? During her pre-"X-Files" days while she was in college, Anderson was involved in what became the Second City's most prestigious brewery. Located in Lincoln Park, Goose Island Beer had just opened when the young student applied for the job. 

"At the time I was studying acting at the Dublin Theater School Conservatory, and my dream, as I'm sure it is with most actors, was that I'd be working professionally and be known amongst the world. That's all a part of the fantasy, right?" Anderson told IndieWire, before going off on an interesting tangent: "But I also wanted my work, whatever it would be... on some level there has to be enough of an ego to keep you going to think that maybe your name will become a household name. So if I was contributing to that fantasy in any way, I guess part of that fantasy might include someone naming something after me." The actor laughed and acknowledged the "ego" in her way of thinking.


Gillian Anderson is involved in charitable causes

Gillian Anderson is dedicated to a number of philanthropic causes. For instance, when it comes to animal rights, the actor went so far as to take off all her clothes for a PETA ad. "I found it liberating to use my body to make an important statement. People tend to look away from anti-fur ads showing mangled animals, but they're drawn to PETA's 'naked' campaign," she explained on the official PETA site

But Anderson's charity work goes way beyond stripping for the greater good of animals. She says that another cause she's involved in is the fight to find a cure for neurofibromatosis — and for good reason: Her brother suffers from the disease. The actor contends that neurofibromatosis "is actually more prevalent than MS."  

Anderson also became an anti-slavery advocate "after being shocked at the scale of the problem." In 2017, Reuters reported that until she was cast in the film, "Sold," Anderson "had been unaware [that] up to 46 million people globally were living as slaves, generating an estimated $150 billion in illegal profits a year." "Sold" is set in Kolkata's red light district, where a 13-year-old girl from Nepal is "trapped in the sex trade." The movie follows this young woman as she fights to get away. "The film is an entry point to the issue. By telling one girl's story, it gives voice to the millions of children who are trafficked every year," Anderson remarked to Reuters.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Gillian Anderson has experienced health issues

Gillian Anderson is not shy about the fact that she struggles with bouts of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. The star told The Guardian that she began therapy when she was 14. Her challenges with mental health had become so restrictive that, she told the outlet, "There have been times in my life where I haven't wanted to leave the house." Meanwhile, she shared in another interview with The Guardian that her panic attacks "are strongly associated with the fear of forgetting her lines, an anxiety that peaks when she's on stage."  

Anderson elaborated on her journey in the 2017 book, "We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere." She and journalist/attorney Jennifer Nadel wrote the missive in order to support other women through their struggles, reports Women's Health. "Honesty is the only thing that can really set us free," Anderson admitted to the outlet. 

The authors talk a lot about self care in "We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere." Anderson told Women's Health that part of self care is "seeking help! Seeking the necessary help..." She stresses that doing so "is not a sign of weakness. It's actually a sign of strength because by seeking out help, you're actually being courageous enough to face the things that otherwise we find unfaceable." She stated that such honesty can be healing. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Her net worth is impressive

Gillian Anderson's fortune may make you gasp. The actor's estimated net worth as of 2021 was a staggering $40 million. Anderson started to earn the big bucks while appearing on "The X-Files," but she reportedly had to stand up for fair pay. "The studio initially required Anderson to stand a few feet behind her male partner on camera, careful never to step side-by-side with him. And it took three years before Anderson finally closed the wage gap between her pay and Duchovny's," the Daily Beast noted.

Meanwhile, a large chunk of the former Dana Scully's fortune has been spent on homes around the world. According to The Times, the star is an avid property investor. She cited her purchase of a Sri Lankan villa but did not disclose the price of the pad. However, this exotic buy is only one of a baker's dozen's worth of properties she has purchased, including a Georgian home in east London that she bought in 2012 for £2.89 million (or nearly $4 million). "What generally happens is that I work on the house I'm going to be living in," Anderson told The Times. 

It looks like this roving Hollywood star will likely add to her doozy of a home collection in the years to come, depending on the projects she snags and the places where filming happens. Stay tuned.