Herald Sun, Australia
July 27, 2008
By Peta Hellard
After nine years on The X-Files, you would expect Gillian Anderson to be an expert on the hit show's paranormal plotlines. But Anderson, who has reprised her role as FBI investigator Dana Scully in the new X-Files film, says the complicated conspiracies still confound her. Case in point: what happened to her baby William from the first X-Files movie in 1998? (His fate is not explained in the new instalment).
"I can't remember," she laughs. "I had to be reminded that we gave him away... I can't remember whether it was to save him from being killed or to save him from being taken by mean people or aliens who were going to turn him into the devil or God or something.''
The answer is accompanied by infectious girly giggles, something unexpected from the woman whose portrayal of the restrained, serious FBI agent inspired a slavish dedication from millions of fans.
In new film The X-Files: I Want To Believe fans are reunited with Scully and Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovny. Six years have passed since the series left TV and much has changed with the two characters. Both have left the FBI after becoming disillusioned with the agency. Mulder is a recluse and Scully is a doctor committed to helping cure a young boy dying of a rare brain disorder.
They are encouraged to return to help the FBI, which has recruited a supposedly psychic pedophile priest (played by Billy Connolly) to help investigate the disappearance of a female agent.
The film finally answers the much-obsessed-over question about whether Mulder and Scully have a romantic attachment.
Anderson - who has swapped her character's trademark flame-hued prim bob for long, strawberry blonde waves - is unsure how the fans will respond.
"I don't really have a sense of that. I have no idea," she says.
"I'm sure there are fans out there who are hoping we have a crazy sex scene. Perhaps eventually we'll do a Triple X Files (laughs), but there's a time and place and there's some pretty profound things we were diving into. To have that juxtaposed against lots of flesh and sweat under the covers just doesn't really seem appropriate."
The timing of the film's release is somewhat of a challenge for Anderson, who is six months pregnant and wearing a dark green jersey dress that shows off her burgeoning baby belly. Anderson says the film's rigorous promotion has been tiring as she enters her last trimester.
"I'm OK - talk to me in another hour and it may be a different story," she says, laughing.
Anderson - who since the series has balanced film roles, a British television series, theatre work and motherhood - says returning to the role was more challenging than she expected.
"On the first day of shooting, I was pretty confident about returning to the role. I am usually terrified when I start a project, but that wasn't the case with this one,'' she says. "But I had a really difficult first couple of days (of shooting the film). I was having a really hard time finding Scully's voice and I think part of that is because since the show ended, I've been doing everything in my power to take on roles that were very different from Scully."
Her post X-Files domestic life involved starting from scratch, with Anderson - then a single mother with an eight-year-old daughter - making a decision to leave the US and Scully behind and embark on the new challenge of theatre in London's West End.
"The thought of being on a film set again was the last thing I wanted to do," she says. "I knew I wanted to go to Africa by myself and do theatre in London - so that was my plan. I didn't necessarily at the time intend to live in London full time. I had found a place there and already started working on a play, but my intention initially was to go back and forth (between London and the US), but then I ended up meeting somebody and falling in love (with her former fiance, British photojournalist and documentary maker, Julian Ozanne) and making a life in London and realising that was actually where I preferred to be and where I preferred to work."
Anderson admits her decision to depart for relative obscurity on the stage came as a surprise to her agents. "It (moving to the UK) doesn't fit with an ambitious American movie career, much to the chagrin of some of my representatives," she says. "The type of projects that I have always enjoyed as an audience member, the majority of them came out of Europe and I wanted the opportunity to be able to move back and forth between film and stage, which is more possible in England than it is in the States."
It has been a busy period, with a starring role on acclaimed BBC series Bleak House and in British-made films, including Oscar-nominated drama The Last King of Scotland, ensemble comedy A Cock and Bull Story and the coming big screen adaptation of bestselling book How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.
"It's actually been a really good balance between a film here and a film there and spending the time writing here and having a baby there - doing all of it and doing a great deal of travel as well," she says.
Escaping the entertainment-obsessed vacuum of Hollywood was also a priority when it came to bringing up her children - daughter Piper, 13, from her three-year marriage to X-Files assistant art director Clyde Klotz and 20-month-old son Oscar with partner Mark Griffiths.
"It's so hard to get outside of the business here in Los Angeles. So much of the life here is about the business that you lose sight of the fact that there is another world out there," she says. "Being able to take my eight-year-old daughter on a subway (in London) and have not just white people on the train, but every single race imaginable talking and pushing and coming back from a hard day's work was great. Being exposed to the rest of the world is, I think, very healthy for children and it's very hard in a town such as Los Angeles where it's so segregated and everybody lives in their car and it's surreal."
But Anderson says there is something that may draw her back to live in the US.
"One of the first things I've thought of that might potentially bring me back to the States is if (Barack) Obama becomes president," she says. "To be able to have the experience of being present for something that potentially could be so uplifting and so transformational for a country and to be a part of that, not just from a distance. Short of that, I love London as a city. I don't know what it is. It really fits me and I don't see any reason to change that."
Anderson says the idea of returning to the public consciousness in the blockbuster was not daunting. "The decision to do this film was something that I kind of agreed to quite early on," she says. "It always was something that I liked the idea of and I think it's the same for David (Duchovny). We had discussed it before the series ended that if it was right for everybody that we would all come back and do it. The idea was that we would all be refreshed and ready for it and certainly after six years that's the case."