• Happiness, Fears, Loves: Talking About Existential Questions With Help From Gillian Anderson

    When were you happiest? What is your greatest fear?

    In English we call these existential questions or questions about the meaning of life. They are issues we all ponder (think about) at some point.

    Let’s see some interesting responses to some existential questions with Gillian Anderson, better known as Scully from the X-Files, in an interview published in the UK’s Guardian newspaper in March, 2011. Afterwards let’s answer some questions together.

    When were you happiest?
    In the womb.

    What is your greatest fear?

    What is your earliest memory?
    One year old in Puerto Rico, my feet in the sand, wearing only a nappy, and cradling eggs in the crook of my arm.

    Which living person do you most admire, and why?
    Obama, because against all odds, he’s getting the job done with grace and integrity.

    What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

    What is the trait you most deplore in others?

    What was your most embarrassing moment?
    Thinking I was doing Victoria Beckham a favor by putting her shirt collar down. It never occurred to me she might want it that way. Needless to say my charitable act did not go down too well.

    What is your most treasured possession?
    My children – Piper, Oscar and Felix. Obviously I do not possess them, but saying anything else would seem plain wrong.

    What makes you unhappy?

    What do you most dislike about your appearance?
    Its length.

    If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
    The Amazon.

    Who would play you in the film of your life?
    Johnny Depp.

    What is your guiltiest pleasure?
    Not exercising.

    To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
    My high school geography teacher, for putting gum on her chair and ruining her favourite skirt.

    Have you ever said “I love you” and not meant it?

    What is the worst job you’ve done?
    Pilot of The X-Files.

    How do you relax?
    Beating myself into submission.

    What is the closest you’ve come to death?
    A bull elephant in Kenya moving towards our car as we tried to do a three-point turn in a dead end.

    What keeps you awake at night?
    My two-year-old.

    What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
    That I’m not in charge.


    What impression do you have of Gillian from her answers?

    Can you tell what kind of a child she was from her answers?

    Are you surprised by any of her responses?

    What is her self-image like? Do you think it is mostly positive or negative?

    At what point in your life were you happiest?

    Do you ponder life’s existential questions regularly or do you try not to think about them?

    What do you do when you feel a little down or sad? Do you watch movies or read a book to feel better?

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