Did you say UFO? Gillian Anderson stuns from alien hunter to Margaret Thatcher
MANILA, Philippines — "The Crown’s" fourth season has proven to be one of Netflix’s most-watched shows of the year in Britain and beyond.
The latest entry in Peter Morgan’s House of Windsor anthology has provided viewers a glimpse into the conspicuous lives of the monarch, and England’s pervading social inequalities as it glides from the late 70s through the '80s.
"The Crown’s" plot may focus mainly on the royal family, but its exploration of Margaret Thatcher is no less compelling. The way the character was portrayed — from her iron lady persona that often creates enemies, to her uncollaborative and polarizing leadership style — was quite impeccable, and this can be attributed to the 52-year old Gillian Anderson’s tour de force performance.
A little trip down memory lane will make you realize that Gillian Anderson has become an important figure that continues to be a beacon of excellence in film and television. This is how she effortlessly evolved her career over the years.
It was her role as FBI special agent Dana Scully that truly made an everlasting mark, an iconic name alongside Fox Mulder from the '90s hit television series "The X-Files."
More than opening the world of paranormal investigation and making the field of science and law enforcement “sexy,” "The X-Files" helped define a generation. When the show premiered in 1993, it created a programming trend that would last for many years to come.
Being able to bring life to agent Scully was what Anderson would consider her role of a lifetime. In one of her interviews, Anderson revealed that she has always been, and will always be, very grateful to Scully for launching her career in Hollywood, giving her an influence that would eventually shape the lives of many young women.
Nonetheless, despite the many accolades throughout the decade, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Gillian became too identified with Scully’s character that it became too important for her to prove that she’s more than capable of doing something different. Of course, Scully made her a household name, but in retrospect, she was a shadow from the past that Anderson had to distance herself from.
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When she landed another important role in the 2006 feature film "The Last King of Scotland," one that she believes to have somehow rebooted her career and allowed people to witness her incredible depth as an artist, Anderson finally established a personal brand like no other. Her success continued on both "Hannibal" and "American Gods," the two projects that have been creatively fulfilling, among others.
Playing the complex character of Jean Milburn
Despite being brand new, "Sex Education" has gotten rave reviews, and Anderson’s portrayal of a wry and eccentric sex therapist is nothing short of phenomenal.
Just like how she took on the mammoth role of Thatcher in "The Crown," her transformation into Milburn is particularly sublime; bringing new layers to the character. She has expertly approached the role through a different lens, and completely abolished her nostalgic '90s identity.
Playing alongside British actor Asa Butterfield as his single parent Dr. Jean Milburn, who notoriously conducts vagina and erection workshops in her own house, was definitely a delightful experience for the British actress. But in a recent interview she did with Radio Times, Anderson opened up about lobbying for Milburn’s character to be changed, saying that the character is contradicting and confusing at the same time.
In season one, Jean started off as Otis’ norm-defying cool mom who always encouraged her son to openly talk about his emotional struggles. Halfway through the series, Jean's character became too controlling to an extent that she even followed her son to school to spy on him. Obviously, this was a turning point for Anderson to voice out her distaste for the screenplay.
As a seasoned actress, Anderson isn’t wrong by pointing out that Milburn’s character needed to be corrected as no real-life sex therapist in her right mind would go following around a teenager just because she had to prove she’s a good mother.
Eventually, Anderson made peace with her character and admitted that Milburn’s complexities are actually the essence of who she was, and the many layers of the character became the reasons she enjoyed playing it.
Netflix has already confirmed that "Sex Education" will return for a third season. This should come as no surprise after the comedy-drama made the streaming giant’s top-ten most-watched series in 2019 both in the UK and US, all thanks to its brilliant casting.
After playing many exciting characters: an FBI agent, a sex therapist, a prime minister, and just about everything in between, there’s no sign of slowing down for this remarkable acting legend, as it should be.
With an expansive filmography and the daring powerhouse roles that she portrayed, the question on everyone’s mind now is, What’s next for Gillian Anderson?
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