Feature

Gillian Anderson’s experimental youth

In high school, Anderson was voted “Most Bizarre” and “Most Likely to Be Arrested.”

Gillian Anderson has always been a rebel, said Aaron Hicklin in Out magazine. At age 11, she moved from England to Michigan and suddenly discovered she was an outsider. “Going from London to a small Republican town like Grand Rapids was quite a shock,” says Anderson, 43. “I thought it would be a place of sunshine and candy bars.” In high school, she was voted “Most Bizarre” and “Most Likely to Be Arrested.” Both descriptions were fair, Anderson says. “Based on how I chose to look, dress, behave—I was freaking people out,” she says. “I was in a relationship with a girl for a long time in high school, then I was in a relationship with a punk rock drug addict. And then I was in a relationship with somebody way, way older than me.” She didn’t care if Grand Rapids residents were shocked. “That anarchistic attitude—the inappropriate behavior it leads to—was how I chose to be in the world at that time.” Anderson has since calmed down—she has a 17-year-old daughter from her first marriage, and two sons with her current partner—but insists she hasn’t lost her punk spirit. “I don’t think I’ve ever followed convention by choice. By default maybe, but not by choice.”

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