Sure, she's best known as ''The X-Files''' no-nonsense FBI agent Scully, but Gillian Anderson's career has taken some surprising turns since her alien-chasing days. We asked the 44-year-old actress — who can currently be seen as a detective in the U.K. miniseries ''The Fall'' (available on Netflix May 28) and as an enigmatic therapist to the titular doctor on NBC's ''Hannibal'' — to look back on some of her most memorable roles.
THE FALL (2013)
I play a detective superintendent with the Metropolitan Police in London, and I’m sent to Belfast to do a 28-day review on a murder case. It ends up being a serial killer, and the people watching see the killer do his thing at the same time that Stella is tracking him, which is an interesting conceit. I don’t think I’ve ever played a female character that is so mysterious even to me. She’s a very strong personality, but there’s a lot that you don’t know about her.
Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier
Bedelia is a psychiatrist, very contained. We see Hannibal and her together — they pretty much sit across from each other in her house, and he’s talking, and she’s deciphering his fanciful language and his ways of avoiding various things. They share an intensity, and you get the sense that there is more to be learned about her and how much of his potential misbehaviors she is aware of, and how she might get involved or be involved. There are question marks.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS (2012)
Anytime somebody offers me an iconic character, I have two immediate responses. One is like, ”Who? Me? Is there somebody standing behind me?” And then the other response is: ”Oh my God, the responsibility! What do you do with that?” What [writer] Sarah Phelps brought to the character was a lot more poetry that is evident in other areas of Dickens’ writing. I think it was that poetry and the whimsy that informed how I saw her; I got a very, very clear image of who I thought she was, what she looked like, how she spoke. I had some fun.
JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN (2011)
I enjoy [costar] Rowan Atkinson — he’s a bit of a genius. And being the head of MI7, it’s essentially like a cartoon M character. I love comedy. I don’t do it enough. Pamela’s not really part of the pratfalls in the film, but just being a part of something that incites laughter as opposed to suicides is a rarity in my world. There’s a lot of the other.
BLEAK HOUSE (2006)
That was one of those moments when I had met with the producers and literally said to them, ”What makes you think I can do this?” Because I think I can, but nobody had ever taken that kind of a risk with me before. It doesn’t necessarily follow — Scully to Lady Dedlock. So that was one of those moments when I realized, This is what you’ve dreamed of, Gillian. And this is an opportunity for you to do what you think in your head you can do, so you bloody well take advantage of it.
THE X-FILES (1993–2002)
She was a cool chick, and those kinds of cool chicks don’t come along very often. I mean, they do now — there’s a lot of cool female characters and three-dimensional, complex characters on TV today. But back then, they just didn’t exist, and she was one of the very first to be a part of the movement. I think of her with great fondness and still feel very blessed to have had such a long time for her to be a part of my life.