TV Critic’s Corner

Gillian Anderson has left ‘The X-Files’ far behind

Gillian Anderson in “The Fall.”
Gillian Anderson in “The Fall.”

Watching Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully on “The X-Files” during its original run, I was always a fan of her cool acting style. But I never thought of her as more than a weekly network TV performer who’d maybe move on to play another strong, independent cop on a “CSI” franchise or something.

I was so wrong, and I’m so happy to say that. Since her early years on “The X-Files” (can we pretend the revival never happened?), Anderson has put in a decade and a half of extraordinary work. I’m thinking about her because right now:

1. She is starring in Netflix’s “Sex Education,” a teen sex comedy in which she offers precision wit as a sex therapist blind to her own emotional needs. It’s a must-watch show, the best of the new year, if you like your sex comedies wise and witty.


2. She has just been cast in “The Crown” for season four (season three hasn’t premiered yet) as — and this will be perfect, with all due respect to Meryl — Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.

3. Next month, she will star as Margo Channing — across from Lily James as Eve — in a Wes End stage production of “All About Eve.”

When Terence Davies cast the star of “The X-Files” as Lily Bart in his 2000 adaptation of Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth,” some rolled their eyes. But she was a revelation — watch it, if you haven’t seen it. Her face, with its built-in sadness, was at the center of the devastating tragedy.

In 2005, she was indelible as Lady Dedlock in the top-notch PBS-BBC adaptation of Dickens’s “Bleak House.” Looking world-weary, speaking and sighing at the same time, she cast regret over the entire six-parter. Then came turns in a few other excellent TV adaptations, including “Any Human Heart” and “The Crimson Petal and the White,” as well as her striking work in three seasons of “The Fall” as the confident DSU Stella Gibson.


Yup, I’m a fan.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.