January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

ON THE JOB, AS FBI AGENT DANA Scully, X-Files star Gillian Anderson gets involved with sewer-dwelling fluke men and psychic serial killers. As a teen in the early ’80s, living in Grand Rapids, her look was punk, her nose was pierced and her tastes ran to rock musicians. So when Anderson tied the knot three years ago with nice, normal TV and movie art director Clyde Klotz, it may have struck some fans as, well, extraordinary.

True, this was no paparazzi-poppin’ Brad-and-Gwyneth love story. Yet six months after meeting on The X-Files’ Vancouver set, Anderson, then 25, and Klotz, 32, impulsively got married on New Year’s Day 1994 by a Buddhist priest on the 17th hole of a golf course in Hawaii, where they were vacationing. “It was beautiful,” she told PEOPLE. So was the cradle that Klotz built for their infant daughter Piper, now 2. “He was so excited to be a dad,” says a pal, director Chuck Bowman. As for Piper’s parents, “they were wonderful together,” says their friend, director Rick Stevenson.

Thus, intimates and X-ophiles alike were wondering last week what went wrong after Anderson’s manager Connie Freiberg confirmed what a British tabloid, the Sun, had revealed on Jan. 13—that Klotz and Anderson have been living apart since October. She remains with Piper in the family’s house in Vancouver; he has a place nearby. Dismissing rumors of another, younger man in Anderson’s life, friends surmise that the real cause of the breakup was Anderson’s 80-hour work week and Klotz’s movie gigs. “This business is hard on relationships,” says Jack Hardy, who worked with Klotz on the Vancouver set of the 1995 children’s adventure movie Magic in the Water, where Anderson and Piper, he says, paid a “happy” visit.

Though there is no talk of divorce, “this is a very sad and difficult time,” says a pal. “They are a family in transition, moving forward in the most loving and responsible way they can, hoping for as much privacy as possible.”

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