RetroCrush: Q&A with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny at WonderCon 2008
By Robert Berry
February 23, 2008
Talk about getting back into the heads of these characters after so long and re-familiarizing yourself with who these people were.
DUCHOVNY: It's an interesting challenge as an actor. It's not like being in a play where you're recreating the character every night, but it's closer than making a film that's a one off. There's a certain kind of honoring of the past work that you've done. You don't want to explode the character because you don't remember, or you're bored. Then you also want to honor the fact that the person has had five years of life. It's tricky, that makes it interesting.
ANDERSON: Yeah, it's kind of weird. It's an interesting conundrum to deal with. Doing it for a film is different than doing it for a television series. We've only done one other film and there's a difference in lifting it to the big screen. To wrap one's brain around that when you're used to doing the TV one more. It's kind of odd.
You said you "sucked for the first 48 hours", what did you mean exactly?
DUCHOVNY: I think you just feel that way.
ANDERSON: Yeah, I just felt...
DUCHOVNY: I think normally you just suck for the first 48 hours of any film, at least. Coppola has said he'd like to shoot the first 2 weeks over...if you have that luxury, I agree. I would love to shoot the first 2 weeks over of anything I've done. So... it's always hellish to start anything.
What was your chemistry like after so long apart?
DUCHOVNY: It was bad. (Duchovny and Anderson laugh)
Did you keep in touch?
DUCHOVNY: Not so much. Some emails every now and then.
ANDERSON: Yeah, we do. It's good.
DUCHOVNY: It was never something we really worked on.
How does it feel to be part of a show that's become so iconic? You guys are out there (the convention appearance) and everyone is screaming. How does that feel?
DUCHOVNY: It's been a long enough time now. We don't expect it. It's certainly not surprising.
ANDERSON: It's not surprising, and I think there is a new level of appreciation for it. At least for me. Just realizing how big it was. I get that now. At the time I couldn't fathom it.
DUCHOVNY: We were so insulated when we were working on it, you know? It was kind of all consuming in terms of our own personal schedules. We didn't get out amongst the people that enjoyed the show so much.
We're told that this is a standalone story. Everybody's being very secretive about it. But what can you tell us about the film that gives us an idea of what it's about?
DUCHOVNY: (looks to Gillian) Should we just tell him the whole plot? (laughs) It's about time we told the truth! There's horror, there's thriller, there's comedic, there's alien oriented, there's mythology oriented...and I think this is more of the classic, as Chris was saying, more towards the beginnings of the show. This is more a return to the horror thriller genre that The X-Files started out as.
Will we have an opportunity to see some comedy in the film? That was certainly one of the more fun parts of the show.
DUCHOVNY: We try to. You know, it's an ongoing...I wouldn't call it a battle, with Chris. It's more of a...Chris and I have a different... opinion? A consciousness of how comedy exists within The X-Files. We've always had it. That's always kind of been a back and forth. He will win the battle because he'll be in the editing room.
DUCHONVY: But I always try to infuse certain moments with humanity and humor. Or humanity through humor. Chris tends to feel like that lets the air out of the bag a little bit. That it takes the tension out of the scene. I disagree, but I could be wrong. I don't know. But we make sure that it's around. That you can reach for it if you need it. So the options, I believe, are there. Whether or not they're used, I don't know. But that's how we did the show. Because Chris wasn't around, he was back in LA, so we'd just fuck around with it while he was gone.
So it sounds like you have some input...
DUCHOVNY and ANDERSON: We have no input! (laughing)
ANDERSON: You do the best that you can but it's their decision what ends up on the cutting room floor.
Does it ever become frustrating to be so identified by the public with these two characters?
DUCHOVNY: I don't feel that way. So I'm not frustrated by it.
ANDERSON: There's certain times when my focus has been on different things. Like at a charity event on another continent. And that's all they want to talk about, they don't want to talk about the charity event. Yeah, that gets frustrating. Or when I'm trying to promote something else and 75% of the interview wants to go back to the series. It's frustrating, but it is what it is. I wouldn't have the choices to do the things I want to do today if it weren't for the series.
In terms of the lives of the characters, did you discuss with Chris what they've been up to. Does the film address it?
DUCHOVNY: We didn't discuss it with Chris beforehand. The script came to both of us as a "done script". But it does (the film deals with it).
Frank told us there's a lot of Mulder and Scully in this film. That the character development is the heart of the film. Is that how you see it?
DUCHOVNY: That's how I saw the show. The fact was that on any particular show you didn't have to go for it because it was written that way. This probably has more self conscious relationship stuff in it than most of the shows.
Why did it take so long for us to get to X-Files 2?
DUCHONVY: I don't think it's so long, is it? The show...Gillian, it just ended in 2002?
DUCHOVNY: She probably had to take a year off just to sleep.
DUCHOVNY: That brings you to 2003, maybe she wants to do a couple other movies. That takes her to 2007.
DUCHOVNY: I'm sure Chris was exhausted. We all wanted to try our hand at other things. There was an idea in the back of my head that we could continue on. It was just a matter of when.
I read a book where you said you didn't want to do a network series anymore, and that (Mulder) would live on in movies. Is there any difference between what you're doing now with Californication and what you did on The X-Files?
DUCHOVNY: Oh yeah. I'm only filming that 12 weeks a year. 12 episodes in 12 weeks. 12 weeks on The X-Files would have got me through...
ANDERSON: 3 episodes?
DUCHOVNY: Doing Californication is like doing a film. You're in and you're out. I wouldn't have done another television show if I had to...I don't think we could. I told Gillian the other day when we were shooting, "We should do this every fucking day!" (laughs) I don't want to say I'm old, but I don't think I'm up to it. I honestly don't know if I could do that again.
ANDERSON: Yeah... I don't.
Gillian, are you going to continue working with Masterpiece Theater?
ANDERSON: I don't know. What I did for them was a one off thing. It was an afternoon of recording intros. As far as I know it's a one off thing.
So this is your first comic book convention experience, together, right?
ANDERSON: At all, I haven't done one by myself.
Coming here and seeing the fans, sharing the clip, and being able to discuss the film, what's that experience been like?
ANDERSON: It's a wonderful feeling to know that there's people out there who are going to show up and actually see this film when it comes out. Their enthusiasm and their desire to see it. I think that is rewarding, and a bit of a relief.
It seems like the audience is going to react to it well.
DUCHOVNY: It was always my hope that we would get to do one of these every 5 or 6 years. When I was getting off the television show I wasn't like "Screw the show, screw these characters, screw you!" I would love to keep doing it, if I could come back every now and then. I love working with Gillian, I love Chris. I love the characters. If we can pull that off, that'd be great. And if not? I'm perfectly happy with the amount of work we've done as Mulder and Scully, you know? (laughs) We've done a lot. So in a way, I felt that this was "win/win". If it continues on, then it's fantastic. If it goes away...well, then we did a lot.
How much sleep have you guys had in the last 24 hours if you were on the set, then came right out here?
DUCHOVNY: Gillian was working later than I was.
ANDERSON: But overall I think you've had less than I have.
DUCHOVNY: It's been a harsh year because we've been turning around a lot from days to nights. It wreaks havoc with your processes. But it's a sprint. It's not that bad. It's like I said to Gillian, we couldn't do this every day. Because we were doing this every day for 10 months. That's what I couldn't believe.
ANDERSON: And not only that but we were in year 2 of 6 that we signed on to. (laughs) It was like a tunnel.
So is is safe to say that after another 5-6 years of sleep we might get X-Files 3?
DUCHOVNY: Oh yeah, it all depends on the reception, reallly. It's not us standing in the way. We're happy to do it. It's whether or not it's business for Fox.
Why is the show still relevant? Why are the characters still relevant? At the time it seemed like it was very turn of the century, millennial narrative.
ANDERSON: It'd be interesting to know, if we had started the series in 2008 what would have been happening. When they started it there was something very timely about it. Whether it would take in this day and age, I have no idea. I think that all the elements that made it what it was contribute to why it was successful, and why people are interested in seeing more of it.
DUCHOVNY: I never think that anything was a success because of when it came out. Unless it sucks. But I don't think we suck. I just think we were good and it would have been a success at any point.
ANDERSON: Do you think it would have been as good if we started it in 2009?
DUCHOVNY: I don't know. So the shows that ripped us off would have already happened, so it'd be like we were ripping them of now?
It doesn't seem like there's a very big audience for sci-fi (laughs)
DUCHOVNY: Well with the gaming, it just gets bigger and bigger.
When you guys started you sort of captured the zeitgeist in a way. There was a lot of paranoia.
ANDERSON: Paranoia's been around a long time.
DUCHOVNY: Paranoia's a human trait. People like to say that things changed after 9/11. Human nature doesn't change. This is a story about 2 questing heroes. There's always going to be something in the human heart that wants to see that. If you're telling good stories, there'll always be a place for that. It's got nothing to do whether robots are doing our laundry or not. (laughs) What the hell am I talking about? Robots doing laundry...