WCW: Gillian Anderson

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Today is actress Gillian Anderson’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to share images from her historical costume movies and TV series? She was known for so long as her role from The X-Files that I think it surprised a lot of people when she switched gears and starred in Edwardian-set The House of Mirth. Then there was a long break, and now she’s almost an expected (fabulous) presence in many historical TV miniseries! Also, Team Redhead sometimes.

 

The House of Mirth (2000)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think this book works well on screen. There’s just too much social context necessary to understand WTF is going on. That being said, gooooorrrrgeous very early 1900s costumes. And Eric Stoltz.

The House of Mirth (2000)

Check that suit! (On Gillian)

The House of Mirth (2000)

THIS DRESS! THAT LACE!

 

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

A weird movie based on a weird book, but interesting. This is Gillian’s only (historical) costume, and it’s a lovely robe à la française.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

Also, that hat!

 

Bleak House (2005)

I will admit to not being a huge Dickens fan, so put the word “bleak” into the title and I’m doubly out. That being said, from what I hear Gillian was perfectly cast as Lady Dedlock.

Bleak House (2005)

Those sheer oversleeves are so very 1830s.

Bleak House (2005)

Looking pinched and Dickensian.

 

Any Human Heart (2010)

As Wallis Simpson, wife of King Edward VIII (later Duke and Duchess of Windsor). Allll the 1930s glam!

Any Human Heart (2010)

SO PERFECT.

Any Human Heart (2010)

Totally capturing Wallis’s elegance.

 

Great Expectations (2011)

Do we really need to see this Dickens novel adapted yet again? I’m not sure, but I do like Anderson’s chapped-lip take on Miss Havisham.

Great Expectations (2011)

Such decay!

Great Expectations (2011)

“Here, let me ruin your life!”

 

Moby Dick (2011)

Cue dick jokes.

Moby Dick (2011)

I’m impressed, she actually doesn’t look that derpy in a bonnet!

 

The Crimson Petal & The White (2011)

I’ve raved about Anderson’s short but impressive role in this captivating miniseries. See it! I’d love to make this costume some day (I think it’s the hair).

The Crimson Petal and the White (2011)

She’s so spooky and scary and all good things!

 

War & Peace (2016)

Entertainingly bad, especially for the shitty costumes; sadly Anderson’s talents are lost in this crap-show — and she gets stuck wearing what might be the shittiest of the costumes.

War & Peace (2017) - Gillian Anderson

That being said, sometimes y’all get me. I was tickled by how many of you loved this meme I made for last year’s Snark Week!

War & Peace (2016)

I swear to god, this is one of those raincoats that roll up and stuff themselves into the hood for packing.

 

Viceroy’s House (coming in 2017)

She’ll be playing Lady Edwina Mountbatten, wife of the last English viceroy of India.

Viceroy's House (2017)

 

What’s your favorite of Gillian Anderson’s historical roles?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

23 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Not sure about my favourite, as Ms Anderson brings alot to the table in her roles. But I’m holding out for Viceroy House. And I agree she was an elegant Wallis Windsor, but Wallis was more elegant and intelligent than beautiful so I’m waiting for the perfect Wallis. The actress in the Crown came the closest.

    Reply
  2. Kate D

    The Bleak House miniseries was fantastic and Gillian Anderson was amazing in it.

    The book Bleak House is pretty great, though there’s certainly a depressing shadow over all the events (it is Dickens, after all), but there’s so many memorable, great parts! Including a character spontaneously combusting! (Which Dickens thought was a real medical thing that could happen.) The second half of the book is straight entertaining murder mystery. Highly recommend the miniseries.

    In the book a character says, “Well, it’s certainly been a Bleak House while you’ve been away!” Lolz

    I also loved House of Mirth, but I had read the book.

    Reply
    • MoHub

      Bleak House is also unusual in that it has two interlocking narratives: one told in first-person past tense from the point of view of Esther Summerson and the other told in present tense by a journalistic unknown narrator. It’s a brilliant novel and one of my favorites.

      Also, there’s an earlier adaptation with Diana Rigg as a fabulous Lady Dedlock, although the rest of the production was lacking, and even Alastair Cooke was clear in his dislike of it.

      Reply
    • Charity

      My mother, upon reaching that point in the miniseries (spontaneous combustion) asked, “SERIOUSLY???” I meanwhile was cackling with literal delight in the corner, because that was so utterly FABULOUS as a plot twist.

      Reply
      • Karen K.

        Bleak House is BRILLIANT. Just watch one episode, and you’ll be hooked. And the bit with the spontaneous combustion is a hoot. Plus so many great actors in it.

        Reply
  3. Kate D

    Her Miss Havisham was a new an interesting take, almost mentally broken to the point of being child-like sometimes, but to me, Helena Bonham Carter’s performance is the more memorable. It’s a role HBC was born to play.

    Reply
  4. LadySlippers

    Okay I know that this isn’t period but I adored Gillian’s role in The Fall. She and Jamie Dornan totally make that whole series sing.

    In general, I like her as a person and as an actress. She really brings a certain gravitas to damn near any role I’ve seen her take on. 💖

    Reply
      • LadySlippers

        @Kathy

        Isn’t she just riveting? And to tie it into costumes, her wardrobe certainly played its part well too.

        Bravo all around to a wonderful series.

        Reply
  5. Trystan L. Bass

    I agree w/Kendra about House of Mirth. I adore the book, & Gillian, et. al., did as much as they could, but it’s just a hard work to adapt to screen. Maybe a miniseries instead of a feature film? Maybe a different director? Not sure. It looked gorgeous tho.

    And yeah, for as much as I hate Dickens, her Bleak House was excellent!

    Reply
    • Karen K.

      I love Gillian AND Edith Wharton but that House of Mirth adaptation was so slow I just could not get through it. However, I found the book riveting.

      Reply
  6. Frannie Germeshausen

    Bleak House was amazing, and she was great in it. I need to track it down and re-watch it.

    Reply
  7. woostersauce2014

    My favourite role of hers is “Bleak House”, she was perfectly cast as Lady Dedlock. Unfortunately, she was wasted in “War & Peace” – not only with that lavender dress, but an over-all bad script and bad acting from some of the cast. Not even Gillian Anderson could polish this turd.

    Reply
  8. ladylavinia1932

    I rather enjoyed “War and Peace” very much. I just didn’t care for the costumes, which struck me as a bit too faux.

    Reply
    • Kate D

      I also enjoyed the BBC War & Peace. I’m reading the book (I’m about 1/3 of the way into it) and so far I think plot- and characterization- wise the mini-series has been spot on. It’s been very helpful so I can remember more clearly who everyone is. The costumes in it… yeah, I couldn’t say anything better than what’s been said in previous Snark Week posts. (As I read, I still say “Frodo” in my head when I’m reading about Boris because of your hilarious posts!)

      Reply
  9. Adina

    I have the biggest most debilitating crush on Gillian Anderson. This post nearly killed me. (except war and peace, all the love in the world can’t save those costumes.)

    Reply
  10. Charity

    I LOVE Bleak House. So. Much. No one ever understands why, but it’s just… I don’t know. It kills me. The romance. The tragedy. The sorrow. The … Dickensian-ness of it all. So good.

    Anyway — I also adored her as Miss Havisham. She made me see that character in a never-before-seen light. I loved her wispy voice, her extreme anxiety, how she rubbed her hands raw and wished her relatives would leave. To be honest, I’d gotten used to “stoic, typecast Gillian” as the ice queen / detached logical individual (X-Files, Hannibal) and her Miss Havinsham convinced me she can actually act!

    Reply
  11. melponeme_k

    I like Anderson in just about everything she is in . She is so underrated as an actress.

    Great Expectations was iffy for me. Technically Anderson was the same age as the character, but she looked much younger. It didn’t help that she was more beautiful than the actress that was cast as Estelle. Yeah, I wasn’t too happy with that version.

    Reply
  12. kt

    I loved House of Mirth – remember sobbing my way through it when it came out. Would also echo the praise of others for Bleak House. She does look fabulous as Wallis, must check it out!

    Reply
  13. ShoelessJane

    I know, I know, it’s a bit late for y’all, but I was sort of hoping to see her Lucille Ball from American Gods!

    Reply

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