Interview: The X-Files' Gillian Anderson
April 16, 2008
By Ryan Rotten
ShockTillYouDrop.com spoke to Gillian Anderson on the set of Fox's new X-Files sequel, opening in theaters on July 25, 2008.
Why return to the X-Files after all of this time?
I think that I've always made it pretty clear, no matter what has been rumored in the press, that were we to come together, or were somebody to get it together to do a film, that I would be happy, willing and hopefully able to participate. There were a few times there where it looked like it might not happen, but there are many times when I, when people were saying it was going to happen, didn't believe it was going to happen. I was always on board, no matter else what I was doing at my time in my life.
You've done so much in your career and life in the interim, since the series ended, what's it like to come back? Is it familiar or does it seem strange?
I wasn't cocky, but I was really confident that it was going to be easy on the first day. I wasn't afraid at all. I'm usually terrified for the first couple of days on something and it sucked. It was horrible. I had a really hard first couple of days and a I think a part of that was that I've spent such a long time trying to do something that didn't remotely resemble Scully, I've been pushing it away for such a long time that when I was inviting it back, my brain was going, No! This isn't supposed to be happening! And we started on the worst possible scene that we could have started with. It was a confrontation scene, so it wasn't even normal, flatline Scully. [laughs] No, I don't mean flatline. I didn't mean that. I didn't even have a chance to be normal Scully before I was upset Scully.
Do you look at her different six years later?
I think what's important is that she has not changed a lot. It's finding who she is again. I think it's important to show someone who's recognizable to the audience who is used to that. But there's obviously a maturity that has taken place naturally. To hold that and to use that fact to inform how she might be in this present stage.
Is there anything in this film that tells us where she has been the last five or six years?
Not really, I think it's a given that...there's something said here about the choices that she's made which covers that.
What was behind your willingness to take the role again, did you not want to be the one who said 'no'?
No, it was a formidable experience for all of us. Even at the times when I was very outspoken about the challenges of it, it was still something I wouldn't have changed at the time. I was always aware that this was something unique and valuable and precious. Something that doesn't happen all of the time. We were incredibly lucky and despite my frustration at the exhaustion, I've always been grateful on some level. The idea of us all coming back together again has always been exciting.
You just didn't want to be defined as Scully.
Sometimes I still am. When producers or whatever see my work, they go, Oh, she can act! There's nothing much I can do about that, but I try to continue to challenge myself and challenge people who want to put me in a box.
Can X-Files still comment on the times we live in?
I think if one is paying attention they'll see that the issues addressed are bigger than current events. I guess there's some current stuff, but it's the bigger picture in certain respects of human beings and...I'm going to dig myself in a hole here. [laughs]
Do you think the Mulder and Scully relationship here outweighs the scary plot that's being promised?
I think what is remarkable - and still find it remarkable today after working with other actors - just what kind of energy there is. It just happens, it's weird. It's cool now once I've seen things in the past and wondered, Where the f**k did that come from? It's still there and of course it's going to be appealing to people. And I now see what the appeal is. In the old days, I was like, Yeah, so what? We get along? Yeah, there's chemistry. I was just using that word. Now I see there really was, and there still is and I think it will always be there.
What's that like with David now that you're not with each other 16 hours a day on a series?
It's great, but it was great then, too. This is like a sibling relationship and I never had siblings. I had brothers and sisters that started when I was 13, so I was out of the house and didn't have that experience. There was always this love/hate - hate is too big of a word - but there was always something. It was a natural relationship over a period of time. Now we've grown up and we're older, we're more appreciative of the relationship period and the unique experience we had together and have an opportunity to continue that and foster it. We've always loved each other and we're always going to be a battle sometimes.
Scully started as a skeptic, then a believer - are you going back to that skeptic/believer dynamic or is there no going back to that?
I think we have to. That's part of one of the big premises of the film, of the relationship and what makes it work is this constant fight to be right in some way. I think no matter what film or what episode, you have to maintain an element of that. This isn't a love story, [but] it can be. That can't be in the forefront. What's in the forefront is these two people's minds and their passions. Naturally, they're going to swing in the direction that they are built for and that's going to cause tension between them.
How do you see X-Files now in the context of your diverse body of work?
It has never really been my cup of tea. I'm not really a television watcher, I don't think I would have watched the show [were I not in it]. I see what it is and I can appreciate its appeal to people, I can justify it in the context of my life.
Are you more comfortable with the fact that this role is going to be with you for the rest of your life?
I feel very fortunate. I think my desire to distance myself stemmed from maturity. I started this when I was 24, I told them I was 27 to get hired. Somebody sent me an interview from some cheesy TV station and I was so sure of myself and the way I was talking. I think I had to surround myself with so many survival mechanisms in order to - just as a 24-year-old to be thrown into that so early. People would say in interviews, what a whirlwind life you've had and I didn't even have enough of a perspective to stand back and say, Yeah, man... In a sense, it was to a detriment because I just assumed I should be able to deal with stuff. When it ended, there was part of me that didn't want to see a set. It just got really intense. I didn't do that much during our hiatuses. I didn't go after that between exhaustion and being a mom - I just wanted to do something different for f**k's sake. I needed that, I really needed that. But I've found a place again of appropriate perspective and great appreciation and gratitude for being invited into such an extraordinary experience.
How is the story intertwined by the character relationships that producer Frank Spotnitz says plays a big part in this film?
I should think they've done a really good job of touching on all of the elements that are important for it to make sense to people and to stand-alone. I think they've done a really good job in that respect and there's enough of a balance between our determinations about the things that are currently working on mixed with the dilemmas that we find ourselves in as the two characters, mixed the history, mixed with everything... I think they've done a great job.
How is Scully different from when we last saw her in the series finale?
I think she's more relaxed and she's made some choices in her life that have allowed her to do what she most wants to do, and that has mellowed her a bit. She hasn't lost any of her determination and passion about things by any stretch. How she is in this film follows perfectly with where we last saw her and who she has always been.