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Gillian Anderson doesn’t play characters who fade into the background, but her next role – as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown – is surely one of her most formidable yet. As the internet shares its thoughts on Anderson as the iconic but controversial “Iron Lady,” here are 10 other times this brilliant actress has been completely iconic.

1. She gave us one of the most iconic characters in sci-fi, Dana Scully.

In what’s been branded “the Scully effect,” Anderson’s heroine has been credited with encouraging more young women to pursue careers in science, medicine, and law enforcement. Anderson played Agent Scully in 213 episodes of The X-Files and two spin-off movies, but appears to have to drawn a line under the role now. “I’m finished, and that’s the end of that,” she said in 2018. “There’s lots of things that I want to do in my life and in my career, and it’s been an extraordinary opportunity and extraordinary character, and I am hugely grateful.”

2. After fans petitioned for her to become the next Bond, she (playfully) threw her hat into the ring.

3. She played Margo Channing, Bette Davis’s signature role, in the West End adaptation of All About Eve.

Which means that night after night, she got to deliver the iconic line: “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!”

4. She keeps it real about not sharing a home with her partner, The Crown creator Peter Morgan.

“With full careers & 8 kids, how would it work otherwise?” Anderson tweeted last month. “He’s the love of my life – in part because we’re free to enjoy our very full & separate lives. It’s all the more precious because we aren’t defined primarily by our relationship.”

5. She fought for – and won – equal pay with David Duchovny on The X-Files twice.

During the show’s original ’90s run, it took Anderson three years to be paid the same as her co-star. But when the show returned for a 2016 event series, Anderson was once again offered half as much money as Duchovny – something she refused to accept. “It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly,” she told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it.”

6. She’s now showing off her deadpan comic timing in hit Netflix series Sex Education.

Anderson plays Dr. Jean Milburn, a well known sex therapist who really tells it like it is, even when her teenage son Otis (Asa Butterfield) would probably rather she didn’t.

And Anderson is clearly enjoying the character’s meme appeal…

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Not bored

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7. She starred as a game-changing female detective in The Fall.

Anderson’s character in this British crime drama series, DCI Stella Gibson, is a fascinating mix of feminine and masculine who doesn’t pander to anyone. “She isn’t interested in dressing like a man; she’s not using her clothes to get anything from anybody else – it’s not a device,” Anderson, who also executive-produced the series, said in 2014. “She’s dressing for herself. She has good taste – you can just tell. I don’t know how, it’s hard to say – but you can tell from the page somehow how she takes care of herself. But it’s for herself and for herself alone.”

8. She hasn’t played a Queen (yet), but she has portrayed a Royal.

Anderson appeared as Wallis, Duchess of Windsor – one of the most talked-about Royals ever – in the 2010 miniseries Any Human Heart.

9. She’s also played one of the most famous women in English literature, Miss Havisham.

Anderson gave us a memorably ethereal version of Charles Dickens‘ jilted spinster in the 2011 Great Expectations miniseries.

10. Oh, and like John Barrowman, she’s bidialectal, which essentially means she can speak two different versions of the same language flawlessly.

In Anderson’s case, she can speak perfect British English in the U.K. and impeccable American English in the States. Get yourself an actor who can do both, right?

What is your favorite Gillian Anderson moment?

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Filed Under: Gillian Anderson
By Nick Levine