A burly shadowy figure silently swoops into the Gardens restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. He stops at a corner table, where actress Gillian Anderson is gingerly picking at her crab-claw brunch, and adjusts the listening device in his ear. Pinned to the lapel of his drab gray suit is a small circular button bearing a single cryptic letter: X.
”Everything is clear,” he reports to Anderson. ”When you come out, I’ll be there.” Then he slips away.
Who was that massive man? ”One of my security guards,” Anderson explains, somewhat abashedly. The 27-year-old actress has traveled from her home in Vancouver to appear at her first X-Files convention, and the organizers have provided her with the sort of protection usually afforded heads of state. A few days earlier, four barrel-chested escorts met her plane at LAX.
”One of them looked like Dr. No, or Mr. No — that guy who threw his hat and killed people,” she says, meaning the Bond hitman Oddjob. ”I was walking with my arms folded in the middle of these people. It’s the most bizarre thing in the world.”
A funny reaction from a woman who gives life to FBI agent Dana Scully on a series about mutants, aliens, and other paranormal perversities. As counterpoint to David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder, who never met a conspiracy he didn’t like, Scully’s cool, scientific skepticism has turned her, despite some of the dowdiest clothing on TV, into a thinking man’s babe. The Gillian Anderson Testosterone Brigade, a group of men who worship her from the Internet, consider her no less than the personification of ”the real woman, not yet another bimbo chasing after criminals in high heels. She isn’t a supermodel and doesn’t try to be.”
This season has provided Anderson’s meatiest plot to date; in the episode ”Revelations,” Scully finally suspends her disbelief to fight the devil himself — much to the surprise of a for-once skeptical Mulder. It was the kind of performance that justifies her 1995 Golden Globe nomination and prompts X-Files creator-executive producer Chris Carter to liken her to gold: ”I feel blessed every day that I watch her work, because she gets better and better.”
And yet, while Duchovny has blazed a trail across magazine covers and through late-night talk shows, Anderson’s star has risen slowly. ”At first I felt like, This is our show. It wasn’t just his show,” she says. ”But I learned to not care so much.”
Fame remains something of an alien experience for Anderson, and in conversation she protects herself from its intrusions almost as vigilantly as the men who surrounded her at the airport. Dressed for the convention in a Scully-appropriate teal blue suit and plain wire-rim glasses, she looks more like a bank manager than a glamour girl. As the security guard escorts her out of the restaurant, she blanches in mortification: The white stretch limo sent to deliver her seems big enough to host the convention. ”This is too much,” Anderson protests. Her manager dutifully makes a note on the first page of a script: ”Limos — smaller.”