Gillian Anderson on people complimenting her skin: ‘I often fall asleep in my makeup’

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Gillian Anderson is covering Net-A-Porter’s The Edit magazine. She’s one of those 50-something women who gives me hope that it’s not all downhill from here. I know that’s terribly negative but I feel like I’ve aged five years in 2020. I’ve recently watched Gillian on Kimmel and she’s not highly quotable as she mostly talks about her work. That was the case in this interview too too, but I liked what she said about Black Lives Matter and about playing Margaret Thatcher on The Crown. She said the right things about listening and realizing she was getting an education she didn’t know she needed. She also said that she didn’t hate Thatcher like a lot of Britons because although she was born in the UK she grew up in the states. That’s why her accent work is so good! I didn’t realize that about her. Here’s more of her interview:

On people saying she looks younger than 52
“I’ve heard from my mum, my whole life, that my great-grandma Rose had really good skin, but I often fall asleep in my makeup, and whenever I do a photo shoot, everybody always points out that my skin is really dry.”

On not having preconceived notions about Thatcher
“My family moved to the States in 1979, the year she came to power… so I don’t feel like my experience of her was anything like it might have been had we stayed and [I had] been around adults who were expressing their opinions. I hadn’t developed any kind of opinion whatsoever. I only heard people’s very strong reactions with regards to her policies when I was an adult, so I did start with a blank slate.”

“If I felt strong opinions about how she parented or how she ran the country, it would definitely have had an impact on how I played different scenes, so I felt, as an actor, it was important to leave all that stuff at the door.”

On waking up to systemic inequality
“No matter how much work I do for charities, I don’t think I’d really ever studied or taken full account of the myriad ways that society works against people of color and minorities, how endemic it is and how structurally impossible it is for so many to get beyond a certain place.”

“That was the beginning of an education I didn’t even know I needed. I’m learning how brainwashed I feel I [have been] and we are as a society, and how much there is to learn about what needs to systematically change. I have a tendency to try to close my mind against certain things… [But] it is a time to listen.”

[From Net-a-Porter]

In our Zoom group we asked Sara, she lives in Birmingham, about the Thatcher Thatcher Milk Snatcher rhyme and she said when she was a little girl she stopped getting free milk at school because of Thatcher. She also said her nan hates Thatcher and that people were dancing in the streets singing “ding dong the witch is dead” when Thatcher died. (You can hear that on podcast #74 at minute 12:20.)

It’s probably a good thing that Anderson went into that role without a lot of preconceived notions because her performance is vulnerable and sympathetic. She also talked about the fact that she studied Thatcher’s voice and noticed a difference in how she talked to her family and how she talked to parliament, of course. The result was a “balance” of Thatcher’s vocal styles. I suspect she’s going to get an Emmy for that. If so it would be her second (she won in 1997 for X-Files, she’s been nominated four other times, three for X-Files and once for Bleak House).

As for the quote in the title, I never fall asleep in my makeup. Maybe it really doesn’t matter. Like I said she gives me hope. Gillian looks natural and I suspect that helps her land more roles too.


photos credit: Netflix, Getty and via Instagram and Twitter

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27 Responses to “Gillian Anderson on people complimenting her skin: ‘I often fall asleep in my makeup’”

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  1. Jules says:

    She looks great! Gorgeous skin and natural. I definitely wash my face before sleep though, especially the sunscreen. I had a few pass-out drunk nights back in the day, and I learned my lesson fast from that lol.

  2. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I hate to admit it. Especially to women lol. But I don’t religiously remove makeup. 😱

  3. Laalaa says:

    I know I am in minority, but I feel her Thatcher was not very well done..
    I love her, though. Her and Duchovny at talk shows a bit tipsy was a delight to watch 😀

    • SM says:

      I am with you. I could not stand her Thatcher. She was putting so much effort into mimicking and that ridiculous voice I was unable to concentrate and see past through an actor doing an imitation rather than inhabiting the character. Too bad because Thatcher had a very distinct voice and posture but Gillian’s attempt was a complete miss in my view. At times I was furious watching it thinking how on earth did the director not stop this mess. Sorry. But that’s how I feel. In real life Gillian is beautiful though

  4. teatimeiscoming says:

    I love her, I love her work. She has had some very good, subtle, refining along the way. Genetics always helps, but so do procedures. 🙂

    • Malika says:

      I also am convinced that there has been some gentle polishing up along the way, but so subtle it is hard to pinpoint. What I like is that she doesn’t try to compete with the young uns, but leans into being a fabulously preserved and dressed middle-age woman. You never thinks she is younger than she is, but as a beautiful older woman and that is very inspirational indeed.

  5. SpankyB says:

    I’ve never removed my makeup before bed. I have rosacea and my skin looks so much better when I’m not constantly washing it. Washing it once a day keeps the redness away. (I didn’t mean to make that rhyme). I will take off mascara if I have a lot on, but that’s it.

    I’m mid-50’s and my dermatologist says I have great skin and not to change a thing. She does say that through clenched teeth since she doesn’t agree with not washing off makeup, but it works for me.

  6. manda says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE her in Bleak House. Omg, she did such an amazing job, I’m practically obsessed. She is also in a silly movie whose title I can’t recall, it had mila kunis and was about spies. In the movie, kate mckinnon is mila kunis’s friend, and she encounters gillian anderson’s character, and just can’t stop raving about how fabulous she is. I am like kate mckinnon in that movie.

    Re: skin–I think it’s ok to sleep in your makeup sometimes! I am usually pretty lazy but I don’t really wear makeup either. That being said, I am broken out now and so upset about it. Have just started some new lotion, so maybe that is contributing. My mother has practically flawless skin (well, had; she’s 83 now, but looks 20+ years younger) and she never took special care of it. Some people are just lucky

  7. Teresa says:

    Sometimes you’re just hot.

  8. paranormalgirl says:

    I have to take off my makeup or I just feel icky. Double cleanse, hyaluronic acid and vitamin c serums, moisturizer, and done.

  9. Eleonora says:

    I don’t wear make-up.
    Most men don’t, so I don’t see why I need to do it or else not be “presentable”

    My skin loves it.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      I like makeup. I like playing with the colors and playing with my look. My love of makeup has nothing to do with being “presentable” and everything to do with how I choose to present myself at any given time.

      • Eleonora says:

        I was speaking about myself and the pressure on women to wear it. Its even required in some companies.

        I didn’t say some women can’t enjoy wearing it for themselves.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        It should NEVER be required. I got what you were saying. I was saying that I love makeup, but I love it for ME, not for anyone else. I was actually kind of clunkily (not a word, I don’t think, but what the heck) agreeing with you that it shouldn’t be required or necessary or that if you don’t wear it somehow you’re less than “presentable,” but be something one does only for themselves, because it’s fun. Sorry if it came off as anything other than that.

      • Eleonora says:

        Thank you for your reply.

        I see and agree.

        And clunkily should be a word if it isn’t yet 😉

      • paranormalgirl says:

        We should make it so. It might be a word, though, since autocorrect didn’t flag it…

  10. Amelie says:

    I realized she’s in a relationship with The Crown’s creator Peter Morgan so that’s how she ended up on the show lol. But she’s so talented and since she grew up in England for part of her childhood she can pull off a convincing British accent. She was so good in The Fall (one of the most unsettling shows I’ve ever watched). I have never really watched The Crown but I think I need to start.

  11. JoJo says:

    I think she’s a great actress, and she was incredible in The Fall with Jamie Dornan. She does look natural, but she’s absolutely had work done to her face. Just compare her face now with the X Files years and it’s pretty blatantly obvious. Nothing wrong with that though – she looks really good.

  12. ItReallyIsYou,NotMe k8 says:

    I was terrible about taking my make up off for several years when my children were babies and toddlers and I felt like it showed a lot. But I also realized later on that I was using the wrong products for my face. I was using an anti aging seram but not necessarily a moisturizer. When I started hydrating more eating better and using a moisturizer I noticed a huge improvement in my skin. I also got white sheets so I was kind of forced to take my make up off at night.

  13. Jayna says:

    I love Gillian in roles. She’s having a remarkable career in her 40s and now 50s,. I’m sure she’s had refreshening work done to her face, but nothing that changes her face. She has lines, smile lines. She doesn’t have a botoxed, full-of-filler face She’s 52 and looks fantastic. Her whole face moves.

    Now, compare Nicole Kidman to her. Nicole is 53. What she’s done to her face means every time you see her in a role, you are often noticing the work done on her face. The filler in her face, sometimes overblown lips. Nicole is beautiful, with beautiful skin. I can see doing procedures to keep the jaw line tightened (which can be noninvansive), photofacials, etc, and possibly for some, very, very light botox. If Nicole had stuck to doing that, she would be stunning, but more natural-looking, like Gillian, or, even older, Julianne Moore.

  14. Christina says:

    Jillian’s Thatcher blew my mind. I remember Thatcher and Reagan on TV all the time in high school and college. She deserves an Emmy. I don’t think anybody can top what she did in The Crown. Maybe I don’t watch enough TV to know any better performances, though.

  15. Valerie says:

    I believe her! That’s a very Gillian thing to do and admit to, haha.

    never sleep in my makeup—only what gets left behind by my cleanser, which is sometimes just a little mascara and eyeliner. I only wear eye makeup, and sometimes I just want to go to sleep without having to swipe it all off, but in the end, I always do. If I fall asleep with it on, I grudgingly get up and take it off, lol.

  16. Sorella says:

    I hated Xfiles and never watched it so I used to have no opinion about her. My husband had a girl crush on her on Xfiles though lol. But since Sex Education and now The Crown – omg I love her – she is my girl crush now too lol!!!! She is lovely and her skin looks great (yes Nicole Kidman and others should take note). I think she speaks with a bit of a British accent anyway because her parents being English and she married an Englishman and has lived in England as an adult as well. Her children have very British sounding names..Piper, Felix and Oscar. After The Crown, I went down a google hole and looked her up lo.