"Hello. You guys look great," the star said. The crowd screamed.
"Wow ! " said a wide-eyed Anderson.
Flowers and stuffed animals were flung on to the stage as Anderson talked for a few minutes about her Australian visit and the show that is causing a sensation around the world. More than 80 people were pulled from the crowd after they fainted from the heat.
An ambulance was on standby outside and more than 100 police and Westfield security officers had been stationed throughout the surging mass of people. Anderson told the crowd she received an enormous amount of fan mail from Australia and said it had been originally thought that the show would run only for a year. She said that while the show was popular world-wide, Australians were particularly enthusiastic. "You guys are amazing," she said.
A young girl was at the front of the crowd with the word "Scully" scrawled across her forehead and an X on each cheek. The Killara teenager had hardly been able to sleep the night before and had risen at 5am to catch a train with friends for the journey across town.
Her patience was rewarded when the bouquet of yellow roses that she threw on to the stage was the first Anderson scooped up. "The X-Files is just excellent," she said. "It's really interesting and really educational as well." Anderson is on a three-city tour to promote the X-Files, seen on cablecaster Foxtel and released on video through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The crowd was warned at least an hour before that any excessive pushing and shov ing would result in the screen idol leaving the stage immediately. Fans had begun arriving at 5am to secure one of the 350 official tickets for the autograph queue. Top spot in the line was won by 29-year-old Peter Brown, who had slept in his car overnight in the shopping centre's car park. The storeman from Holsworthy had left behind his wife and two children for fear of the huge crush of X-Files fans. "It's the best show. Scully's gorgeous," he said a few minutes before hopping onstage to meet his idol. "I'm thrilled, thrilled -- I can't wait." Elsewhere in the crowd, others weren't so lucky. Way back in the queue, llam arrival James Gallagher thought his chances of meeting Anderson were "slim to none", but he wasn't giving up hope.
Canberra residents Ron Martin and Cheryl Carthy had left home at 6.30am but still missed one of the coveted tickets that would have guaranteed them a brief audience with Anderson. "She's so cool. I love her dry sense of humour," Ms Carthy said. Like most fans, Mr Martin had brought magazines and videos for Anderson to sign. "It's good to see a strong female character in a TV show," he said. Maitland mother Debbie Micallef was clutching tightly to ticket 348 as she reserved the last two precious seats for her daughters. Her daughters, aged 14 and six, were "extreme" fans, but she didn't mind one bit. "Gillian Anderson is a good role model for girls growing up, mainly because she shows women have a more important part to play in a man's world," Mrs Micallef said. "I'd like my daughters to look up to her." At the end of the queue, customer service officer Nick Thornton tried to stop people lin ing up-to no avail. A young girl held an X-File video to his face and pleaded with him to let her join the line. But he had to refuse. "This is the biggest crowd I've seen here in my four years," Mr Thornton said. Many fans in the crowd were clutching X-Files videos, X-Files CDs and/or X-Files collector's cubes, which Anderson was promoting during her visit. The American cult series is Channel lO's top-rating show, attracting more than 1.6 million viewers across the country every week.
When asked what "fame" means to her, the answer is fired faster than you would ever expect. "Suffocation," Gillian Anderson says and laughs, her smile barely masking the bittersweet honesty in which the word is proffered. Anderson, surrounded by the trappings of fame, is equally constructed by them.
The important thing about being behind a limousine door, or a locked hotel lift, or a security guard, is that you're always hiding behind something. And one thing is certain, from the moment FBI Agent Dana Scully opened her first X-File, actress Gillian Anderson was, and remains, locked behind all of the above. And she doesn't like it.
"When I think of fame I think of the catch-22 nature of it,' Anderson says. "I think of the benefit and the desire to be recognised for one's work and respected within the community and that's about where the line has to be drawn for me."
Anderson is, by her own admission, an intensely private person. The idea of inviting a journalist into a day in her life is clearly a disquieting one. The suggestion there could be hundreds, even thousands, of fans waiting outside to mob her seems almost terrifying. "I tend to be very private, so I don't get off on the paparazzi following you around, or the intrusion aspect of it. Or being in places where there are lots of people. I don't like big crowds."
Outside there is just that. A crowd which has climbed studio walls to get a glimpse of the star. At a radio station earlier, the crowd was thin. But by the time the limousine is purring towards The Midday Show, scores of fans line the road. And that is the doubleedged sword of fame on which she sits. "If you're in a vulnerable state of mind in any way, it can be incredibly intrusive and disorientating to place yourself in a situation where there are hundreds of people who want your attention and want you to live up to their standards," she says. "It gets emotionally exhausting."
Later, 10,000 fans turn up to an in-store appearance in Brisbane. And yesterday at Westfield Miranda, thousands more jostled for a glimpse of the star during her "meet the fans" session.
Neither Anderson nor her costars expected The X-Files to be a hit. "I don't think that any of us thought the show was going to go on for more than a year," she says. "I didn't know when I started working on the show that it was going to entail what it does in terms of shooting time, in terms of the special effects, in terms of the physical aspect."
For Anderson, the day begins around sunrise with breakfast in the company of her close friend Bonnie Hay, her daughter Piper and the child's nanny. Still in the early morning, she meets with publicists Kristen McGrath and Jane Nagel, one from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and the other Foxtel -- Anderson's two hosts durlng her visit to Australia. All the while Andrew Tatrai her security guard (whose clients include bille Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer and Joan Collins) is on duty outside her hotel suite.
But despite her calm, Anderson is capable of playing the tough guy when the moment presents itself. The night before, at the Rocky Horror Party at Planet Hollywood she found herself under the scrutiny of one photographer's lens. After letting him fire off several rolls of film on her. a hand is raised and a single, stern, Scullyesque glance is all he needs to get the message that she wants some space. "There are certainly areas where I have to completely draw the line," she says.
Her husband Clyde Klotz and precious daughter Piper are shielded from the press at all times. As Anderson arrived in Australlia, one journalist asked her: "Why isn''t your daughter with you?" to which the diminutive star replied: "She is, we're just protecting her from you guys." For Anderson. the key to surviving the gruelling demands of working on The X-Files and her responsibility to a global legion of fans is to keep her ears open. "I guess, trying to listen to myself and sense when I need time," she says. "I have a tendency to run myself ragged."
The same drive which compels her to lay down the law with her minders also compels her to make sure no-one's TV-inspired impression of FBI agent Dana Scully is tarnished in any way when they meet the equally strident Gilllan Anderson.
And the day isn't without its difficult moments. A satellite interview with New Zealand is almost terminated because of technical difficulties, although you are left with the distinct impression that the interviewer's preoccupation with a fictitious romance between the happily-married star and her single co-star David Duchovny has left her unsettled. It's an oft-asked question, an oft-proffered answer, and a rumour as without foundation as the one about Michael Jackson and that infamous oxygen sleeping tube. "People ask me what it's like working with David," she says. "I guess the most obtuse question I was asked in that regard, was: 'David's such a sex symbol. . . what's it like working with a god?' How could somebody answer that question?"
In fact the truth behind Anderson and Duchovny's off-screen relationship is perhaps as cool as the Vancouver woods in which they shoot the edgy spook opera. They are friends, but not really close friends. They rarely see each other outside of work, which probably helps fuel their inexplicable but undeniable screen chemistry. "I think we've found that it (spending time apart) is necessary, because we spend so much time working together, that if we're to be civil with each other whatsoever we need space once in a while," Anderson says. "It's the same with any kind of relationship. We have very different private lives, I have a family and a daughter with whom I want to spend time, and he has his circle of friends."
When Anderson returns to Vancouver with her family, she will take one memorable gift from Australia. After snorkelling in Bali before coming to Sydney, Anderson went diving with sharks- an experiences she found breathtaking, exciting, frightening and liberating. "As soon as I put my head under the water for the first time, there was so much to see it was like overload." A little like the actor now grappling with the tag of modern-day icon, facing those thousands of fans. • The X-Files airs Wednesday 8.30pm on Channel 10 and Sunday, 8.30pm on Fox.