This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Pasadena, Calif. • "X-Files" star Gillian Anderson didn't become an actor to star in a science-fiction series. It wasn't anything she planned on doing, it was something she "got swept up into."
And starring as Agent Dana Scully for a decade was pretty far afield from where she intended her career to go and where it has gone since "The X-Files" ended its original run in 2002.
"I was a huge fan of Merchant Ivory films, and I always kind of saw myself in something like a 'Prime Suspect,' " said Anderson, who will be in Salt Lake City next week for Salt Lake Comic Con's FanXperience. "And so when I was cast in 'The X-Files' … it was just a little off to the left of where I had seen my career going."
When the show premiered in 1993, Anderson wasn't the easiest person to interview. It wasn't so much that she was stand-offish although she could come across that way but she had sort of a deer-in-the-headlights look.
Which is understandable, given that she went from near-anonymity to international stardom at age 25.
Anderson readily admits that, for a long time, she had mixed feelings about the series and the fame it brought her.
"I think it took me a long time to embrace it after we were done with the series," she said. "I think it took a good decade for me to suddenly start thinking of it as the gift that it was and to properly appreciate the opportunity that I had. And also how fortunate I was to play such a great, iconic character in a show that was iconic in and of itself."
It took her a long time to understand how the fans feel about the show. She recalled appearing at a 2015 comic con shortly before shooting began on the "X-Files" revival and getting caught up in "the degree of enthusiasm" from fans.
"Then the theme music played, and it was the first time I think in my life of 'The X-Files' that I completely got what it might be like for an audience to sit on a couch … in front of their television and hear that tune again for the first time when a first episode is going to be aired. And I got excited with them."
While she has, at times, been criticized for not appreciating "The X-Files" and what it did for her and her career, Anderson makes it clear that she's not complaining. And she never meant to sound that way.
No, she's not as obsessed with "The X-Files" as some of the show's fans. But that's not unusual just ask about any actor who's appeared in any version of "Star Trek."
"I've never really gotten involved in the trajectory of the character or the trajectory of the show," Anderson said. She's left that to series creator/writer/executive producer Chris Carter, in whom she has "a huge amount of faith."
"He's always been the one to determine what the tone is and the mood and what it is that is best for the audience," she said.
It's not as if Anderson had to be coerced to return for the six new episodes of the show that aired earlier this year; she enthusiastically signed on. Although her natural reserve might have made that less than obvious when shooting on the 2016 episodes began.
Beginning work on any project, "I am unusually nervous and weird and forget lines and don't behave like the character for the first couple of days," she said. "So there wasn't a kind of 'Whoo hoo, here we go!' thing that happened for me."
Still, she's clearly grateful that, 23 years after the show premiered, she's still identified with "The X-Files." Grateful that's the show that made her famous.
"It could have been something else. It could have been something that I hated or had bad reviews," Anderson said. "So I was very lucky."
Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience 2016
When • March 24-26
Where • Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 W. West Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $5-$230 for wristbands, some events require an extra ticket; http://saltlakecomiccon.com/fanx-2016-tickets
Gillian Anderson • The "X-Files" star will appear in the Grand Ballroom at the Salt Palace on Friday at 10 a.m. She'll also appear for photos and autographs on Friday at 1 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. A limited quantity of solo photo ops ($60) and combo photo ops with fellow "X-Files" stars Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis ($175) remain.
More information • saltlakecomiccon.com