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Gillian Anderson gets real about work-life balance: 'I'm going to be such a pain... for you to hire'

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Striking a healthy work-life balance is a struggle that everyone grapples with, including The Crown star and current Emmy nominee Gillian Anderson, who, in The Hollywood Reporter’s latest roundtable discussion reveals (watch above), says that she’s always thinking about how to make sure her family is a top priority.

Anderson will vie for the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series prize at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, to be held this Sunday, Sept. 19. Before that telecast takes place, however, she sat down with some of her illustrious colleagues and fellow nominees, including Sarah Paulson, Mj Rodriguez (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Pose), Elizabeth Olsen (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, WandaVision), Anja Taylor-Joy (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, The Queen’s Gambit) and Cynthia Erivo (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, Genius: Aretha), divulging during their chat that no matter the amazing opportunities that come her way, her offspring come first.

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“Kids, for me, are the priority of every job that I take,” she confesses while talking about a career that’s spanned television, the movies and the stage both here and in the United Kingdom. “I say to people, I’m going to be such a pain in the ass for you to hire. But if you think I’m this person, I’m going to need to work during this period of time, and then I have time with my kids, and during this period of time, it’s going to be expensive for you. So if you’re willing to do that, then I’m your girl. And if you’re not willing to do that, then you need to find somebody else.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Gillian Anderson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage )
Gillian Anderson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on Feb. 2, 2020 in London. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage )

That confidence is one of the reasons Paulson so respects Anderson, whom Paulson praises for blazing a commendable professional trail in the years since The X-Files. Paulson lets it be known that she admires the fact that Anderson was “on a television program for a long time that’s wildly successful, and then retreating to another country to be on stage, to reconnect yourself to the very things that inspired you and made you want to be part of this.” Given how difficult it is to thrive in a business where creative desires and business concerns aren’t always perfectly aligned — “it gets very confusing about how to navigate it all, right, because you do want to make a living, but you also want to follow your heart” — Paulson sees in Anderson a model for staying true to one’s self.

“Kids, for me, are the priority of every job that I take,”Gillian Anderson

“I have seen you on stage multiple times, I think you’re a f**king genius, and then you go and you do these other things that become quite hot things — The Crown, and Margaret Thatcher,” Paulson gushes. “For me, I think there’s just so much variety in the things that you’ve done, Gillian. And what it seems to me from an outside perspective, not knowing you at all, you’re making choices that have very little to do with moving a needle, and these things that we often, I think, are confronted with as women in this business — like, what choice are you going to make that’s going to keep you on a track of X or Y? That’s a very real thing.”

Anderson, for her part, admits that there isn’t necessarily a master plan regarding the roles she embraces. For example, her return to television following The X-Files wasn’t by design; rather, it was simply due to the fact that, upon moving back to the U.K. (where she grew up), she found that the country viewed TV differently than America. “A decade ago, A-list actors wouldn’t dream of doing TV. In the U.K., it was different. In London, you could move between theater and TV and film, and so that was always my dream.”

To hear more about what these esteemed actresses have to say about working on the small-screen in the 21st century, check out the entire The Hollywood Reporter roundtable clip above — and be sure to see which of them brings home an Emmy at this Sunday’s gala event.

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