For all the credit that Star Trek gets for making sci-fi television go mainstream, The X-Files deserves just as much credit for popularizing a new, grounded, and gritty take on paranormal and sci-fi storytelling. The X-Files also launched actress Gillian Anderson to stratospheric success in the lead role of FBI agent and resident skeptic Dana Scully. In an interview for THR, Anderson admitted that immersing herself in the role of Scully for so long led to more than one emotional breakdown that left her unable to watch her own work.
"I certainly had that experience doing X-Files for nine seasons. I had a good couple of mini breakdowns during that, and at the end, could not talk about it, could not see it, could not see pictures, could not. I needed to immerse immediately in theater in another country. And then after a while, I was able to embrace it again, but when I started to embrace it, it was almost like I separated myself so much that I was looking at the image as if it was another person. When you immerse yourself so entirely as [actors] can and we do for such long periods of time, there's not going to be no consequence to that. Of course there's going to be consequence to that."
As popular as The X-Files was, it was never meant to be a cheerful, feel-good show. Moody and atmospheric, audiences followed FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully on various investigations relating to the paranormal. While Mulder was always convinced that the paranormal occurrences they witnessed had some basis in fact, Scully started out feeling grave doubts regarding the existence of the paranormal.
Over time, however, Scully witnessed enough inexplicable and downright horrifying events that her faith in her coldly scientific worldview was permanently shaken. Clearly, portraying Scully's emotional journey took a serious toll on Anderson's mental health. According to the actress, the end of The X-Files left her not wanting to do another television series ever again, but the offers kept coming.
"When I finished with X-Files, I didn't know if I wanted to be on a set again ever. So aside from having grown up in the U.K. and wanting to go back, I knew it would take time before I could, if I was going to. And in London, you could move between theater and TV, and that was always my dream. But every actor has the thing that they'd want more than the thing that they have, and I'm a cinephile, and so I [wonder], "Why do I keep doing TV? All I want to do is do film." And I'm still doing TV. (Laughs.)"
Although Anderson will always be known as Scully to a certain group of her fans, the actress has taken on a number of other critically-acclaimed roles in successful movies and films in recent times. From playing a sexually liberated mother in Sex Education to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, Anderson has proven time and again that there is more to her career than hunting aliens, or investigating the arrival of the Anti-Christ, or almost getting together with Agent Mulder again and again and again. This news originated at The Hollywood Reporter.