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Just A Minute With: Gillian Anderson on "X-Files"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Gillian Anderson, best known for her nine-year stint as FBI Agent Dana Scully on “The X-Files,” will reprise her Emmy-winning role this summer in a movie sequel based on the wildly popular science-fiction television series.

The re-awakening of the “X-Files” franchise, which enjoys a cult-like following, marks somewhat of an about-face for Anderson, 39, who said she has been spending the six years since the show’s end “trying to do everything but Scully.”

To that end, Anderson moved from Hollywood to London, where she has appeared in two stage productions and is preparing for a third. She has also enjoyed an award-winning turn in a 2005 television adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House,” and appeared in the 2006 Oscar-winning film “The Last King of Scotland” with Forest Whitaker.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Anderson discussed coming back to the role of Agent Scully, her fears of failing on stage, and what it’s like to be part of a series that became a cultural phenomenon.

Q: What was it like to come back to Dana Scully again?

A: I thought that it was going to be a breeze, and it was more challenging than I had expected. It had been such a long time and the characters had matured, and also I had been spending so much time away trying to do everything but Scully.

Q: Why try to do ‘everything but Scully?’

A: Nine years is a long time when you are doing something every single day and I didn’t get into this business to play Scully. My goal was to do as wide a range of things as possible. So it was just following through with what my original intention was, but it was delayed for a decade.

Q: But can you ever really put Scully behind you?

Cast member Gillian Anderson attends the movie premiere of "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California July 23, 2008. The movie opens in the U.S. on July 25. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A: I don’t know, we’ll see. I’ve tried pretty hard over the last few years and done a slew of different things. It’s always something that’s going to be the first on the list in terms of things that people refer to, and that’s just the truth.

Q: How has Scully evolved since the show ended?

A: There seems to be more of a weight, a gravitas to her. She’s always been pretty serious. But she seems more grounded, more mature and yet softer at the same time.

Q: After becoming such a huge U.S. TV star, what made you move to London?

A: It was home to me until I was 11 years old. I chose to do a play there and fell back in love with the city and started creating a life there that feels comfortable.

Q: Do you have a preference between theater and film?

A: Not a preference. Theater is something that I love very much, but also dread. It’s something else entirely to be standing in front of people in a live audience and showing up night after night and recreating something where anything can go wrong at any time. I’m sure that somewhere that’s a fear that lives inside. Am I going to suck? And it’s not just a one-time suck, but a nightly suck.

Q: Any plans to direct?

A: I did an episode of the series years and years ago and just really enjoyed it and felt comfortable in that place and that environment. It’s just a matter of timing and logistics. My first feature is called “The Speed of Light,” based on a novel by Elizabeth Rosner. It’s in the works.

Q: How does it feel to be part of a series that continues to be such a huge cultural phenomenon?

A: I’m not a television watcher and I’ve never gotten into appointment television watching, so the lowest part of that scenario is not something I’m familiar with. The idea that you would look it up online or that you become so invested in characters kind of boggles my mind. I appreciate that it’s important for other people, and whatever gets people off is fine by me. It’s more of something that I can observe.

“The X-Files: I Want to Believe” opens July 25.