At the risk of being seen as insensitive, actors don’t necessarily get into acting because they think it’s going to be easy. Gillian Anderson went into The X-Files supposedly with the knowledge that she was going to be playing FBI Agent Dana Scully in a manner that was meant to be believable in a show that was about uncovering the unbelievable. Like many actors she was made pretty aware of what was going on and what the show was about, even if like several actors she didn’t really watch her own work. Perhaps the confusion surrounding why some actors have panic attacks while on the job and some can get through an episode or a movie just fine has to do with the lack of knowledge on the subject, but it could also be that people don’t often hear that actors are having an issue like this. It sounds as though Gillian had several mini-breakdowns during the filming of the show and the movies, but she did manage to come back for the revival in 2016 and then 2018.
Once the show wrapped up for the first time she made her way to the stage, where she stayed for a while as she found it a safe place for her to relax and keep refining her talents as she would show up on TV and in movies now and then. But she couldn’t do anything or be around anything that had to do with The X-Files for a while apparently, as it would cause her to break down once again. There’s likely a reason for this, but immersing herself too fully in the character doesn’t sound like the greatest explanation that anyone could find, and calling her a mentally weak person wouldn’t be anywhere close to accurate. That leaves a big question mark as to why she was suffering in this manner though, and it’s one that a lot of people didn’t fully understand when they heard it.
Some people break down easier than others over various things. Different people have different triggers, and to be honest, there’s nothing shameful about it since every person has a different breaking point that others might know nothing about, and it takes the right conditions for someone to break down and become unable to function. Why her time on The X-Files and nowhere else did this is kind of hard to figure out, but it does sound as though this show put the spotlight on her in a way that no other production has, which isn’t hard to believe. That however would indicate that Gillian isn’t exactly enamored of being put on the spot and touted out to the fans as The X-Files was bound to, which could mean that she’s happier taking smaller, lesser-known parts. One thing about Hollywood is that everyone does have to find their limit at some point, and it would appear that Gillian found hers as Dana Scully. It’s easy to give her a lot of credit for coming back though, as she might have made peace with the role at some point and decided that she could make it work. For the short time that the show was back fans were definitely pleased to see her and David Duchovny once again, and were sad to see them go once more when it was all over and done with.
It’s very easy to wonder if she’s had breakdowns while performing on any other show, but the one reason why she might not have is that she hasn’t attained the same level of fame as she did when playing Dana Scully. Gillian is still someone that people go wild over and love to see on the screen, but at the same time, The X-Files was a phenomenon unto itself that drew a lot of attention and likely inundated several of the cast members with fan mail and all types of attention, and it sounds as though this was just too much for Gillian. In other venues she’s apparently been just fine and been able to give her best at every moment without feeling as though it was too much pressure. Something about the show was just too big and too much all at once perhaps, and it brought on bouts of anxiety that were unbearable and required her to calm down for a bit before going on. Give her credit though, she did go on even after experiencing each breakdown. Sometimes being overwhelmed is too much for anyone and they need to find a way to escape at that moment. Gillian put on a brave front and made the episodes and the movies work, and then she stepped away for a while. By the time she came back it’s likely that things were calmed down enough that she felt comfortable, but it’s fair to say that she doesn’t miss the anxiety.