Gillian Anderson claims 'The X-Files' saved her career.

The 44-year-old actress admits she was almost penniless before she landed the role of FBI special agent Dana Scully in the science fiction TV series, and although she's grateful for the role she never expected to spend almost a decade of her life playing the character opposite David Duchovny - who portrayed Scully's partner Fox Mulder.

In an interview on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno', she said: ''When I jumped into it ['The X-Files'], I was just going for the pilot. I didn't think it was going to be nine years of my life.

''At the time, I was sleeping on a friend's couch and I was literally on my last unemployment cheque when I got that job.''

Gillian's most recent role was as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson in British police drama 'The Fall' and she admits it is a very different role to that of Agent Scully

She explained: ''Scully was quite naive, very innocent and very straight-laced ... Stella's kind of hard to explain. She's also very serious about her work and she's a bit of an enigma; she doesn't really communicate that much with the people that she works with.

''Stella's very in touch with her femininity and she dresses well. But she doesn't use her femininity, it's not a tool.''