September 16, 2021  •  Leave a Reply

After receiving critical acclaim for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, the iconic actor talks to Ryan Cahill about one of the most successful years of her career, and what comes next…

Landing the main role in a celebrated TV show is, for many actors, the thing that dreams are made of. Which acting newcomer in their right mind wouldn’t want to secure a job that spans multiple seasons, generates awards and makes you a household name almost overnight? None, to be honest. But with every long-standing role with a mass audience, actors run the risk of being typecast in that singular performance. They become so instantly recognisable as that figure that viewers sometimes fail to see them as anything else, regardless of their acting prowess.

You could argue that this was the risk that a 25-year-old Gillian Anderson took when she accepted the role of Scully in The X-Files, a critically acclaimed instant hit that spanned 11 seasons, two standalone films and two spin-offs. At its peak, it attracted 29 million viewers in the US for an episode broadcast in 1997 and becameone of the most popular shows on TV during the 90s. So when the curtain fell on the sci-fi classic back in 2002, would anyone be able to accept Anderson as anything other than Scully? A quick scroll down her IMDb page will answer that question!

Since The X-Files, she has played a detective determined to find a killer of women in The Fall, offered her spin on Dickens’ Lady Honoria Dedlock in Bleak House and mastered Lily Bart in an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. There was that portrayal of Blanche in the Young Vic’s A Streetcar Named Desire (which some might consider her real tour de force – at least for now) and her comedic turn as sex therapist Dr Jean Milburn in Sex Education. More recently, she dared to play the divisive Margaret Thatcher in the fourth series of The Crown, a figure who is so steeped in iconography that it requires a master of their art to fully succeed in playing her.

I connect with Anderson via Zoom in late June. She’s sitting in her London compound, which is where she has spent most of the last year, given the UK’s lockdown restrictions. I wonder how it’s been to be locked at home during one of the most successful years of her career… “It’s been mixed, honestly. First and foremost I feel very grateful that myself and my family have outdoor space, which has been a saviour in a way. It has been amazing but bizarre to be accepting awards in hotel rooms in other countries, but I’d rather be in that situation than not accepting the awards! I was celebrating with sushi at four in the morning after the Globes.” She laughs.

Read the full article/interview in our press library.