Gillian Anderson tossed the ‘Sex Education’ script, her partner dug it out of the garbage


Sometimes I feel so au courant being in this job. And then sometimes I wonder exactly how long has my head been stuck in the sand. Yesterday, I saw the trailer for Sex Education and thought it was a new series. But no, it was the trailer for the second season of the very popular British comedy that I’ve been sleeping on, apparently. The show stars Asa Butterfield as Otis Millburn and his mom Jean is played by Gillian Anderson. But she almost didn’t play Jean, because she tossed the script out as soon as she got it. Fortunately, her partner Peter Morgan rescued the script and encouraged her to take the role.

When Gillian Anderson was first given the script for the pilot of the critically acclaimed British comedy-drama Sex Education, she immediately sent it…into the garbage. “I read a teeny bit of the first episode and threw it in the bin,” she tells EW. “Initially I felt that it was too on the nose.”

The actress believed the setup for the show — about a professional sex therapist whose own teenage son sets up shop advising his fellow students on the subject of carnal activities — to be too obvious. Anderson’s mind was changed by her real-life partner Peter Morgan, the creator and writer of The Crown. “Pete essentially took it out the bin and read it and loved it, and said, ‘You’re mad. This will be really good for you to do.’ I read it and I thought it was hilarious.” So, does Morgan get a percentage of the actress’ Sex Education earnings? “No,” Anderson says with a laugh. “But he does keep reminding me that the success of it is all down to him.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

Obviously, I’m going to have to watch this show now to see what all the yelling’s about. I’m a fan of Gillian’s so it’s not much to ask of me. I also tend to like Peter Morgan’s choices so if he gave the script the thumbs up, it’s probably up my alley.

Actors talk a lot about scripts they passed on and how much they regret it, like Jennifer Lopez just discussed passing on Unfaithful. I know we all probably have one job/position we think maybe we should have taken, but an actor is reminded of their mistake every time that project is discussed. And then they have to be gracious about it and say things like, ‘but no, So-and-So was so amazing in it, it should have been their part all along,’ through gritted teeth and clenched fist. Fortunately, Gillian doesn’t have to regret anything because she gave Sex Education a second chance. And just think how fun it will be to have her sex positive Jean Milburn in mind while watching her play ice queen Margaret Thatcher on The Crown.




Photo credit: WENN/Avalon

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

40 Responses to “Gillian Anderson tossed the ‘Sex Education’ script, her partner dug it out of the garbage”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Lara says:

    One of my good friends cousin plays Maeve. It means my husband can say he’s only 3 degrees away from Gillian Anderson. He’s happy about that.

  2. pearlime says:

    Sex Education is a really good show and Gillian Anderson is great in it. The story is a bit contrived at first, but it enables them to explain and integrate so many facettes of relationships and sex.
    Series 2 is even better than the first one, especially the story about Aimee!

  3. CherHorowitz says:

    I watched a couple of episodes of this followong a recommendation and honestly it felt so cringey how americanised and un-british it was, despite being set in a British secondary school. It wasn’t convincing, it was try-hard, and seemed like it had been made by americans, for americans, but just set in England. For a start they weren’t wearing school uniforms, and a lot of the high school stereotypes and events seemed lifted straight out of an american high school movie and didn’t seem realistic. I dunno, as a brit watching it the cringiness was strong and it put me off. Perhaps i didn’t give it enough of a chance!

    • Lucy says:

      You really should. It deals with several topics in a very mature way. Never over-dramatizes and can be incredibly heart-warming and relatable (and funny, ofc).

    • Eva says:

      I love the series but I also find it super weird how American the British school is in the series. Would love to hear one of the series creators to explain the rationale behind this.

      • goofpuff says:

        yes! At that point why bother setting it in a British school if you’re not actually going to make it a British school… This is super problematic in American Cinema/TV with settings not in the US.

    • spugzbunny says:

      I may be completely reading in to it too much but I believe it’s supposed to be set in a none-specific country and time. It’s deliberately a bit of america, a bit of UK, a bit Scandanavian. The time period is also off. It’s got so many vintage 70s/80s stylings such as the clothes and the cars (which have british plates) but they also have modern mobile phones and other products. It’s one of the things I really love about it.

      • Louisa says:

        That’s what I understood also. You really can’t pinpoint where and when it is taking place. Sounds like it would be awful but it really does work.

    • Orangebella says:

      Speaking to Thrillist, the show’s creator Laurie Nunn revealed the reason behind the decision to make it feel retro and totally makes sense: “It was a very conscious decision from myself and the producers and director Ben Taylor who is also an executive producer on the project.”

      “We all absolutely love the teen genre, particularly the John Hughes films of the 1980s so we really wanted to make the show have the feeling that it’s an homage or that it has this nostalgic backdrop, but that we are talking about very contemporary, modern themes and storylines for the characters.”

      “So in a way we were also trying to take this tried and tested tropes of the genre and sort of flip them on their head and show a different perspective on it. I think those two things together and then with the Britishness just make it feel like it’s its own thing.”

      you can read more here:

  4. Annie says:

    Regarding actors passing on great movies and then regretting it, no one knows how a movie would have turned out with a different actor. The right cast can bring a story to life, and vice versa. I remember Unfaithful, and Diane Lane’s complex, slightly aloof character was one of the reasons I watched it twice (and I admit it, Olivier Martinez was the other reason). J. Lo is not in the same league acting wise, the subtlety and very gradual build up would not have worked so well. Diane got an Oscar nomination for that role.

    • Nickie says:

      Man, I love this movie so much and have to watch it when I’m flipping through channels. cannot imagine JLo playing this part at all…

  5. Corrine says:

    This show is so worth watching!!! It gave me all the feels. Especially Adam’s story over both seasons. I found it hella moving and it was super exciting to me that this show is a resource for teens. Wish there was a show like Sex Education when I was in high school.

    • Danielle says:

      I had Degrassi Junior High in the 80’s. Basically the same. Funny accents (Canadian), heavy subject matter, heartfelt, etc.

  6. Emily2 says:

    The show is great for a number of reasons. It’s sex positive. It doesn’t “judge” the teens or adults for their sex lives the way so many American TV and movies do. There is a lot of diversity that doesn’t feel forced. The teens look like teens rather than 30 year old fitness models.

  7. Lucy says:

    I love absolutely everything about this show. Everything. From the cast and the script to the soundtrack and the way it’s shot. Doesn’t happen often with most series I’ve seen. Gillian is hilarious in it. If you have time, please do give it a shot. It has an amazing and much-needed message.

  8. Dabadass says:

    Umm Jennifer Lopez would have made unfaithful a movie that was entirely forgettable. Diane Lane was fabulous. Thank you to Lopez for passing.

  9. Josephine says:

    I like everything Gillian is wearing above. I think she’s quite petite so the classic lines suit her, and she’s rocking the glasses. Absolutely lovely.

  10. Jackie O'Glasses says:

    I follow Gillian on Instagram (she’s hilarious, btw), but I haven’t seen the show. Thanks for the feedback! Do you know where I can watch it? Sorry if I missed it in the article.

  11. Allergy says:

    I’m sorry, I think this show is not good.
    I also don’t understand how Anderson gets hired so often, I find her abrasive and weird. Sorry sorry I’m so sorry.

  12. Falula says:

    I’ll sing it from the rooftops – this show is THE BEST.

  13. Meggie says:

    The whole American high school vibes really bothered me at first, but by the end of the first season the storylines had hooked me enough that I forgot about the weirdness of the setting. I mean, it’s also perpetually summertime and a mashup of different eras, so I’m taking it more as a nod to a generic idea of “school.” Everyone is sooo good in it, and I love that the characters have enough nuance that no one is a stereotype.

  14. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    JA drips sexual tension in her work. In The Fall? My gawd. I might be interested in seeing her in a comedic role. But that gold dress in the top pic hurts my brain.

  15. Samanthalous says:

    Shows ok to be honest very fast times at ridgemont high. She’s looks amazing I like to watch old X files episodes.

  16. qtpi says:

    Here to say this show is awesome!!

  17. BANANIE says:

    Love love love this show. Watched Season 2 in two days. I know it’s got an obvious premise, but there is so much nuance to it. And I still can’t get over how much Maeve looks like Margot Robbie! Aside from her, I like that many of the actors look like teenagers and aren’t even all that attractive. It’s more realistic. I didn’t think Season 2 could ever be as good as season 1, but they handled it very well.

  18. jules says:

    I haven’t heard of this but I will check it out. Love Gillian. Feeling nostalgic for her and Mulder, gonna go watch the X-Files first.

  19. Whatnow says:

    I was lucky enough to catch Gillian performing as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. It was at the Saint Ann’s theater Brooklyn and she was fabulous. Ben Foster was Stanley.

    I must say she is about as petite as one can get and seems like a very lovely person when we spoke with her afterwards.

  20. Sandy Eggo says:

    I love GA! I haven’t watched this show but I’ll have to put it on my list.

    Here’s my GA story… this was back in the 90s during the first season (I think?) of X-Files, like right when the show was taking off. A new colleague/friend at work said her husband had gone to high school with Gillian. He showed me his yearbook from Grand Rapids, MI with a photo of her. I think she had a mohawk in the photo? He said she was like the class clown, so it makes sense that she has great comedic timing.

  21. Ewissa says:

    I just finished watching it.Love the show.Its really good.Love Gillian- since X files.
    Got a little crush on Jakob lol (his voice and blue eyes )lol

  22. Avery says:

    She is so good in The Fall. She plays a police detective hunting a serial killer.

  23. LeonsMomma says:

    Love this show!!!

  24. Molly says:

    I’ve always loved her. And she was a wonderful Lily Bart.

  25. celes says:

    I just love this show! So funny and real and all the kids are fantastic! I wish I had had this amount of information about sex when I was that age. I went to a Convent and the nuns told us we could get pregnant if we sat on our boyfriend’s knee.