Sex Education without Gillian Anderson? It almost happened. Anderson plays Jean Milburn, a renowned sex therapist in her own right and mom to main character and on the sly student sex therapist Otis (Asa Butterfield), and originally The X-Files veteran wasn't into the show at all.
"I read a teeny bit of the first episode and threw it in the bin," she told EW. "Initially I felt that it was too on the nose."
In an interview with Elle, Anderson expanded on her initial reaction to the show and said, "The fact that she's a professional therapist and yet she's rummaging through her son's drawers and prying into his life? I kept saying, 'Is this too over the top? Is it just too unlikely that somebody could have such a different value system, and such a different moral framework, depending on the situation she's facing?'"
But her partner, The Crown creator Peter Morgan, read it and told her she'd be crazy not to do the show. Two seasons and many glorious jumpsuits later, Anderson seems quite pleased with her role on the Netflix series.
The Sex Education character is completely different from what American audiences recently saw Anderson in, whether it was reprising her role as Special Agent Dana Scully in the two-season The X-Files revival or dealing with serial killers in The Fall and Hannibal. Ahead of the first season premiere, Anderson told E! News she was always looking for something different in a role.
"I guess my favorite thing about Jean is how inappropriate she is because it's just so much fun to do that," Anderson told E! News. "It's so much fun to be that mom who listens at the door and then pretends to be straightening up a picture on the wall, so I think probably that element of her."
The second season of Sex Education found Jean in Otis' school, attempting to rehab the sex education curriculum. There, she learns about Otis' secret sex clinic, befriends the principal's wife and eventually has her notes on the sex-related questions posed by students exposed. She's kicked out, breaks up with her boyfriend and…learns she's pregnant.
Sex Education has yet to officially be renewed for a third season, but with the number of cliffhangers involved, it seems inevitable. Series creator Laurie Nunn told The Hollywood Reporter the show has a long life—in her mind.
"…I think these characters...they've got legs. I think I could do some more with them if we're given the chance," she said. "[Netflix] is very supportive and really wanting us to tell the stories that we feel passionate about. It really feels like we're all on the same page, wanting to make the same show."
Sex Education season two is now streaming on Netflix.