Gillian Anderson Says She Suffered Numerous Breakdowns On The X-Files

The X-Files

It’s hard to overstate just how popular The X-Files was during its initial nine-season run between 1993 and 2001, when it was one of the highest-rated and most popular shows on television. The adventures of Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully and David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder turned the two actors into global celebrities, spawning a pop culture phenomenon that led to a feature film outing and two episodic spinoffs focusing on supporting characters, as well as a string of novels and comic book tie-ins.

It also won sixteen Emmys in total, three Golden Globes for Best Series – Drama and one Globe apiece for Anderson and Duchovny in the Leading Actress and Actor categories, infiltrating almost every facet of pop culture. However, in a new interview, the show’s leading lady admitted that it wasn’t all sunshine and smiles behind the scenes, with the overwhelming success of The X-Files and the relentless grind of churning out over 20 fresh episodes a year taking a serious toll on her mental health.

“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.”

When The X-Files initially ended before being revived for two additional runs over fifteen years later, typecasting must have been a very real fear for both Anderson and Duchovny after having become so intrinsically linked to the roles of Scully and Mulder, but it wouldn’t be hyperbolic to call the former one of television’s greatest actresses of the modern era.

On top of scooping a pair of Screen Actors Guild awards and another Golden Globe for her turn as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, Anderson has also delivered memorable performances in shows as diverse as intense drama Bleak House, psychological thrillers The Fall and Hannibal, fantasy adaptation American Gods and Netflix’s hit comedy Sex Education, while she’ll next be seen as Eleanor Roosevelt in The First Lady.