One of the most eagerly awaited guests at this year's Middle East Film & Comic Con held at Dubai's World Trade Centre was, undoubtedly, Gillian Anderson, the star of The X-Files, The Fall and Hannibal.
With the recent announcement that The X-Files is being revived for a small-screen run of six episodes – featuring both Anderson and her erstwhile co-star David Duchovny – fans were thrilled to see her and most wanted to ask her about what to expect from it, her experiences of investigating the paranormal and what it was like hanging out with the serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the critically acclaimed The Silence of the Lambs TV spin-off, Hannibal.
It is perhaps understandable, then, that Anderson seemed genuinely shocked when, in the brief time I was allotted to quiz her, I chose a very different opening subject.
Her 2014 film Sold tells the story of a 13-year-old Nepalese girl who is trafficked to India to work in a brothel. For me, it was one of the highlights, as well as one of the most harrowing films, of last year's Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
“Wow. I didn’t know anybody had seen that,” says Anderson. “The film is about the sex trade of young girls in India, but it’s something that happens all over the world, every day, under our noses.”
Anderson says that she had known the film’s writer and director Jeffrey D Brown for some time and was happy to help raise awareness of the issue.
“He sent me the script at a point when the character I played, I think, had no dialogue, but asked if I would jump on board anyway for the sake of the cause and I said yes.”
Anderson’s non-speaking role soon became more vocal.
“Then Emma Thompson came on board as an executive producer,” she says. “And Jeffrey met a humanitarian photographer called Lisa Kristine who had spent the past seven years or so documenting and bearing witness to human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
“It’s a serious, serious, serious issue that is not properly being dealt with or recognised in the world today. Lisa has risked her life many times over to bear witness. So Jeffrey based this character in the story on her and added some scenes and asked if I would still be on board, and it fitted into my schedule, so I got on board and I got the pleasure of going to Kolkata and completely loved it there.
“It’s still showing at festivals, I think, and there’s a specific campaign around it about human- and sex-trafficking. It’s definitely raising awareness and I would ask everyone to look it up and support it.”
Of course, I couldn't let one of the biggest TV stars of the 1990s – and the winner of FHM magazine's coveted award for most beautiful woman in the world in 1996 – go without asking about her most famous role and an update on the revival.
“I am reprising the role of Dana Scully,” she says. “We’re going to do six episodes this year in Vancouver, starting in June. We’re gonna have to be pushed around in wheelchairs – I’m 46 now. It’s Crazy. Really crazy. The fact we were even doing any more episodes was never on the cards, so I think I’m still in denial.”
And why does the show remain so enduringly popular? “It was basically David [Duchovny] and I being the most brilliant characters in the history of television,” she says with a smile.
For more information about Sold and the campaign to end the exploitation of children around the world, visit www.soldthemovie.com