Gillian Anderson makes her full return to British TV tonight in The Fall and we though it only seemed appropriate to look back at her career and how it’s been dominated by a single redhead that took America by storm.
Despite it being where she would eventually find stardom, Anderson never even considered TV an option for her acting. It was only after struggling for a year trying to make it on the stage that Anderson finally caved in and tried TV. Eventually, she got a guest part on Class of ’96, a university drama on the fresh-faced Fox network. Thanks to that, she was sent the script to new sci-fi drama The X Files and thanks to the support of Chris Carter, she was cast in the role that would come to define her career.
Dana Scully, and FBI agent part of a team in charge of investigating the agencies oddest reports was a role not to be passed up. A strong female lead was something not really seen on 90s TV and Scully proved to be a revelation, as did the rest of the show. Anderson was suddenly thrust into the lime-light and suddenly became one of the biggest sex symbols of the decade. Strong, independent and more than capable of handling herself, Scully was one of the new wave of women on TV.
With a Golden Globe and an Emmy the fruits of her labour on the show, as well as a worldwide cache that she could never have truly though possible at the beginning of the show, it eventually become time to step out of the shoes of Scully and into something new and exciting, even telling her agent to turn down TV roles in order to keep her plate fresh.
Unfortunately, instead of throwing her into the stratosphere, it proved too big a shadow to break out from straight away, although it did give her the name value that meant she could once again head back to the stage as she had wanted to before.
It would be in the world of period drama though that she would see her drawn back into TV and, with the BBC’s cracking and ambitions adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Bleak House exactly the sort of thing to get her back on the small screen. Taking up the role of the icy cold Lady Dedlock, it was the perfect way to show a different side of herself. That she did with great success, especially in the heart-breaking finale when she revealed her characters terrible secret. The Golden Globe and Bafta nominations she picked up were scant reward for her brilliant performances.
A series of small film roles followed after that, with three years passing until we net saw her on TV as Wallis Simpson in the era-spanning drama Any Human Heart. Though she wasn’t on screen for all that long, it was enough to see Anderson pick up another Bafta nomination, and remind us once again of her quality.
The next time we saw her on our TV screens, she was once again back in the old timey outfits, this time taking the role of Miss Havisham in the BBC’s production of another Dickens classic, Great Expectations. She played Havisham wonderfully creepily, almost as if she was straddling the spectral plane between life and death. Unsettling throughout, she was one of the highlights of a production that was filled with as many stars as the average night’s sky.
Now back behind a badge, this time as DSI Stella Gibson, Anderson will return to British screens to head up a show for the first time in a rather long time. Not only that, but she’s also coming back to American network TV for the first time since she hung up the FBI badge those years ago, playing a psychiatrist in the new Hannibal TV show.
Having finally just about escaped the curse of Scully, this could be the start of a bright new adventure for Anderson, one which we can’t wait to see her go on.