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Gillian Anderson On ‘X-Files’ Emmy Win, Learning To Handle the Red Carpet

The X-Files” isn’t just the series that brought Gillian Anderson her first Emmy, it was also her first major job in show business. Since then Anderson has emerged as a major force on television and the stage in both the U.S. and U.K. She earned a fifth Emmy nom for PBS mini “Bleak House” and currently stars on Netflix’s “The Fall” and NBC’s “Hannibal.” Next year, she’ll reprise her breakout role as Dana Scully for Fox’s “X-Files” limited series revival.

What do you remember about going to the Emmys for the first time?
I have the worst memory known to mankind, but for somebody coming from Grand Rapids, Mich., going to those events and being nominated amongst great people — back then it was Julianna Margulies, Christine Lahti — it was terrifying, and amazing and exciting. I think the Emmys was the first time I met Jodie Foster. She came up and said she was a fan, and that was a really big deal.

Since “The X-Files” filmed in Canada did it feel like your chance to interact with the industry?
It was literally the only chance. The SAGs, Emmys and Golden Globes were the only events when I had any contact with other actors other than co-stars on the show.

What was the feedback like?
People were obsessed with the show, there was a lot of love coming our way. But remember it was a bit of a sleeper hit. I think it properly took off in the third season. We were — not outcasts — but (awards) were not necessarily a shoo-in for us by any stretch. And certainly because of the nature of the subject matter, in the same way people don’t often get nominated in science-fiction films. You don’t think of performance in that genre.

Helen Mirren presented your award.
I do remember that, which is so ironic now with the connections drawn between “The Fall” and “Prime Suspect.” I was a huge fan, still am, and blown away, flattered, everything you can imagine that she was the one presenting it.

Has your approach to award shows changed over the years?
I took my daughter to the Olivier Awards (this year) and had a ball. I had a ball before and after I lost. I think I’ve gotten better. In the beginning my nerves got the best of me. I felt so much like a fish out of water. I didn’t know how to stand, my face started to ache after a while on the red carpet from all the smiling, I didn’t know how to answer questions. I think it’s literally taken me 20 years to figure out how to do an interview on the red carpet. It’s also taken me that long to figure out what to wear. The whole time I was on “The X-Files” and beyond, I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s not just looking back at a style that doesn’t exist now. These are choices I made that will never be in style.

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