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Sci-Fi Magazine
August 2002

Scully's Saga

Unknown actress Gillian Anderson surprised the world by making a star out of skeptic Dana Scully.

EVERY SO OFTEN, magic happens onscreen: Whether through instinct or good fortune, an alchemy occurs and the right actor becomes one with the right role. Nearly a decade ago, that's exactly what happened when Chris Carter picked a young Gillian Anderson -- a neophyte with no prior television-acting experience -- to play the female lead, forensics doctor and Special Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files.

Whatever the spark of potential was that Carter saw in Anderson, the risk in casting an unknown paid off in spades: By the end of season two, Anderson had made Dana Scully her own in ways that no one could have anticipated. Thanks to Anderson's smooth delivery of smartly written scenes, science even became sexy -- no mean feat -- and Scully became as much of a force to be reckoned with as was Duchovny's Mulder.

While many originally perceived The X-Files as being all about Mulder's quest, in the end, it was clear that the show was as much about Scully's quest as well. Cancer, abduction, infertility (and its mysterious reversal) were just some of the story threads that affected Scully directly. "I think the show certainly did start out just as Mulder's quest; the show was primarily about his character and his genius and his revelation. And Scully's job was to kind of help solidify that in the questions that she would answer."

Together, she adds, "they created a whole." The path toward having Scully carry as much weight in the stories as Mulder was a gradual one, though, she recalls, laughing. "It was 70-30, then 60-40, then 50-50.

In seasons eight and nine, the fact that the saga of The X-Files completed its morph into revolving around Scully's journey is something that Anderson feels, "happened by necessity, because of the fact that David was going to be leaving. And I think for the first year that he was gone, the writers did a very good job of keeping him in the public consciousness even though he wasn't around."

After two years of will-they-or-won't-they return false starts, the reality that the end is near has struck the red-haired actress full force. "I woke up feeling so emotional today," Anderson admits on a bright Friday afternoon, with just four more episodes -- including the show's two-hour finale -- still to shoot. "This is surreal. It's only started to hit me these past couple of days. It feels like nine years was so short. While we were in the middle of it, I thought it would never end. Now, all of a sudden, it's just unfathomable."

While parting will be such sweet sorrow, "ultimately, it is good for everybody. Everybody has put in such a good effort over the years, and have really tried to keep the quality of the show up and continue with its integrity as much as it can. But there's a time for everything to end, and I think that this is the right time. And I think that everybody, in their own way, is excited about moving on to other things. But both things can co-exist, and one can be sad and in a process of mourning at the same time as being excited about the future and change."

Anderson also notes that she will miss the show itself, "the whole thing, the whole living, breathing being that it is. There are certainly trees in that forest that I can visualize -- missing Kim Manners, and Chris and David and the crew, and just being on set. I do know that my experience of this will be a full experience of letting go of the [show]."

But, she adds, "There is that niggling thing in the back of [my mind] that says, 'Well, we're all going to come back together for the movie.'"

Transcript provided by CJ and appears courtesy of Sci-Fi Magazine.

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