An Appointment with Dr. Scully: Gillian Anderson Interviewed!
By Craig Miller
Clearly, the primary emphasis in The X-files is plot. In a press conference on January 14, 1994, series creator Chris Carter said, "The show is very plotdriven...It´s what i fought for from the beginning, which is, I didn´t want this to be another Moonlighting. I didn´t want...the relationship(between Mulder and Scully) to come before the cases." Ironically, Carter writes the episodes that probably develop and progress the agents`relationship further than the episodes written by the other writers.
It´s difficult now to think of The X-files without both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. By the end of the first season, they have become as inseparable as, say Lois and Clark(to pick a current example) or even Moonlighting´s Maddie and David. But in The X-files, Mulder and Scully do place their cases before their personal lives. Their mutual attraction is clearly growing, but Carter and company are determined to avoid the Moonlighting trap: if viewers are watching only because of the relationships, and those get resolved, everyone (including the show`s creative team) loses interest in the series.
Treading this fine line of developing the characters without losing sight of the plots seems to be a successful course so far. Mulder and Scully are fascinating enough characters that their personalities could easily dominate the show if allowed to.
And that gets us to Gillian Anderson, one-half of the Mulder/Scully team. She comes to the series as a virtual inkown, having worked primarily in theater. Yet by mid-season(if not earlier), it was obvious she was perfect for the role. With Anderson at the helm, Scully is smart, resourceful, and strong-everything that the Lois & Clark writers are trying(usually unsuccessfully) to do with Teri Hatcher´s Lois. Yet Scully is not some cliched "female Rambo"; Anderson brings a feminity to the role that succeeds marvelously. Craig Miller interviewed Gillian on April 6, 1994. He also did the transcription and editing. Our thanks to Gillian for taking time out of an extremely hectic schedule to talk with ous. We are in her debt. As you´ll see when reading the interview, the last few episodes from the first season were unaired at the time. Several references to the upcoming "Tooms"(the sequel to "Squeeze") have been noted. Also, since there seems to be some confusion about the pronunciation of the c-stars, we´ll set the record straight: Gillian is Jill´-ee-un; duchovny is Doo-kuv´-nee.
MILLER: You graduated from DePaul with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Had you initially planned on a career other than acting?
GILLIAN: No, no i hadn´t. They had what used to be considered a conservatory there. It was the Goodman Theater School, and they joined with DePaul for academic purposes. It´s a pretty major theater conservatory. I had to go through the whole audition process-it´s pretty intense.
MILLER: CM: so you pretty much always had your mind set on acting.
GILLIAN: When I was younger, I was very interested in marine biology. And somewhere that ended; I´m not exactly sure when or what caused the transition. But i suddenly found myself in a couple of auditions in the Grand Rapids community and was cast in a couple things, and it was as if i had never thought about marine biology.
MILLER: So how did the X-files job come about?
GILLIAN: I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and it was an audition like any other audition. I went and did my thing, and they called me back, and then called me back again, and i went to network. It was just one of these things.
MILLER: In the final stages, did you read with a number of different "Mulders", or just Duchovny?
GILLIAN: I think they initially auditioned many people, but they were pretty intent on casting David. In the actual network audition, there were many, many women left, and David and one other man. And David got cast the first day of the network auditions, and I was there and read with him. But i think the network was still pretty freaked out at the possibility of casting somebody with as little background as i had, so they flew in some more girls from New York, and i had to sit in the hallway with more girls from New York(laughter), and go in again and read with him. it was pretty hairraising.
MILLER: Well the chemistry works well between you and Duchovny, so I´m glad it worked out that way.
GILLIAN: Me, too!
MILLER: One of the things we´ve hoped for on the show is a greater continuity from episode to episode, which would allow an evolution in the lives of the characters-particularly important for your character.
MILLER: Has there been any discussion of this, or are the writers determined to keep each script completely self-contained?
GILLIAN: In recent scripts- the ones that we´ve been shooting-there have been references made to past episodes, and also we just finished shooting a sequel to the Tooms episode("Squeeze")- the hundred-year-old man who eats livers(laughter)You know, that one! So I think in that sense they´re trying to tie it more together. I think that´s as far as they´re going to go. Each episode is pretty much self-contained and may need to be that way for a while. You know, this is our first year, and we´re kind of feeling our way with things. But any opinions from the outside I´m sure they take heed to.
MILLER: Along these lines, the show is developing a formula where Mulder is always right. Are we ever going to see the tables turned, where Mulder proposes this wacko theory but is forced to the realization that, this time, he was wrong and Scully´s scientific, rational explanation was the correct one? We´d love to see this sometime!
GILLIAN: (laughter)Oh, dear, I hope so, I hope so! You´ll have to talk to the writers about that one. There´s a pretty definite formula that seems to be working, and I thing they´re pretty intent on sticking with that for a while. Hopefully, they will sway from that. I think it would be more realistic and more interesting. I mean, it´s certainly a good angle to go with.
MILLER: As it is, some of the suspense is diminished because as soon as we hear Mulder´s theory, there´s little need to keep watching. It would be fun, at least on an occasional basis, to have Scully go,"Ha! You were wrong that time!"
GILLIAN: Right. Yeah, i agree.
MILLER: The primary constant of Scully´s wardrobe is a small cross necklace. Once, she says everything has a scientific explanation, and later she avoids Mulder´s question about an afterlife, and still later she refers to her Catholic beliefs when she was younger. How do you pull all this together, and what does the necklace represent to Scully?
GILLIAN: From my own thoughts of Scully´s past, and also what´s been given in the scripts, I think she was raised with a pretty staunch Catholic background, somewhat of a military background. I think that, certainly, a lot of these beliefs have stayed strong. Any kind of spiritual belief, whatever that may be for somebody, helps to contain their sanity, in a way. And it helps Scully to have a constant in the background, as well as her knowledge of sciences and the medicine world. She certainly doesn´t seem to have the time right now to practicing that religion. It has changed . In the scripts there have been different approaches to what that cross may represent or what her background may be. And I think that´s more for the benefit of the writers for the particular episode!(laughter)
MILLER: It does seem, even from a filming standpoint, that because the wardrobe changes from episode to episode, and that is the one constant, either accidentally or on purpose in a numerical of shots the lighting happens to catch the cross against the dark background of a shirt or jackett, drawing attention to it on a fairly regular basis.
GILLIAN: I don´t think that that´s done on purpose. I think it´s just how things fall in the whole lighing shot. I don´t think that they´re trying to monopolize on it in any way.
MILLER: As the season went on, Scully seemed to be filing fewer and fewer reports to her supervisor.(laughter)Do you see this aspect of her job eventually being phased out, or is there an episode down the line where a major conflict is coming where she´ll be torn between her loyalty to the FBI hierarchy and to Mulder?
GILLIAN: There have indeed been fewer reports to the FBI. There´s an episode that you´ll see soon(Tooms)where she does go back and talk with them, and there is more involvement from the FBI as they try to tighten their grip on her and their activities. I foresee more tension. I mean, she´s certainly been swaying to a drastic degree from their grasp, and I think that´ll come back to haunt her.
MILLER: Speaking of which, we´ver never been really clear- beyond some hints in the first episode-about who Mulder´s boss is, and why the FBI puts up with him with a minimal amount of direct supervision. He seems just to go off on his own a lot of times.
GILLIAN: Yeah, he does. That´s a very good questions that I´m not sure if I´m qualified to answer!(laughter)
MILLER: The show has received some critcism for paying little attention to FBI procedures, such as having the agents bossed around by local law enforcement.
MILLER: Does the series-or do the actors-have an advisor on such matters?
GILLIAN: No. Well, we don´t; the series may, the writers may. I know that for a while Chris Carter(the creator and Executive Producer of the series) had some kind of relationship with an ex-FBI person. There are some episodes where we certainly are dissuaded by local law enforcement, but I´m not sure how the writers get information or how close to fact we are.
MILLER: Does Gillian Anderson believe that the government is engaged in a massive cover-up of extraterrestrial and supernatural phenomena?
GILLIAN: Yes, I do. Yeah, I do!(laughter)
MILLER: You´ve been adamant about keeping romance out of the Scully/Mulder relationship, yet there have been hints of -jealousy is too strong, but I´ll use it for lack of a better word-when one of the characters expresses an outside romantic intrest.
GILLIAN: I love that! I think it´s fabulous! I love it when that stuff comes up!
MILLER: Do you think the characters should be so obsessed with their work that all romance is out of the question or just restricted-
GILLIAN: No, I don´t think so. I think that it´s important, at least right now in the first year, for us to stick to the main purpose of these episodes-really stick to the cases at hand. I think that there is room eventually for us to have little bits and pieces on the side.
MILLER:< The current level of subdued mutual interest is a neat tension., and if that can be maintained, it certainly has some benefits.
GILLIAN: Yeah. I love it. There´s actually an episode coming up (Tooms)where we have a scene in a car together that gets a little-not steamy, in that we don´t make any physical contact-it gets pretty tense between us. There´s some teasing words passed between us. I hope- I haven´t seen the dailies, but i hope the scene turns out as well as it felt when we were shooting it.
MILLER: Weather and currency aside, what´s the biggest difference you experience working in Vancouver?
GILLIAN: Weather aside? (laughter)
MILLER: I had to put that aside, because I-
GILLIAN: -know that i´m going to mention that first? There isn´t really. Umm, we´re starting-I´m going to talk about the weather, I´m sorry--we´re starting to see the spring, and i really had forgotton how beautiful Vancouver can be in the spring and summer time. It´s just been pretty torturous with all the rain. And that´s really about it. I don´t really have much time to take a good look at the city, and i couldn´t say i´d be really that good about finding my way around! I know a little bit. I´m married to a Canadian, and so he does most of the driving because he knows the area!(laughter) But to answer your question, I miss L:A: sometimes, not for L.A., but just for the weather-ther´s a certain sense of freedom when you step outside a plane into a warm and healthy-albeit smoggy-environment. There just seems to be a constant cloud or a constant feeling in this city that gets to you after a while. But otherwise it´s great. The people are wonderful.
MILLER: How many months of the year are you up there filming?
GILLIAN: Oh gosh, probably nine or ten i think? Nine maybe. A lot!
MILLER: We´ve heard you´re just about to finish production on the first season.
GILLIAN: Fifteen days!(laughter)
MILLER: Counting down, huh?
GILLIAN: Counting, yeah!
MILLER: And when will you be back up there?
GILLIAN: The middle of July.
MILLER: Not much of a break.
GILLIAN: No, but it seems like an age, because there were so few days over Christmas that we were off, and we really need a big break.
MILLER: Any non-X-files projects on the way we can be looking for that you´re in?
GILLIAN: No, I really plan to just try and relax over the hiatus. This work is pretty exhausting. i´d love to go on to do a feature, but it´s time to take a break and rev up the engines.
MILLER: Just so you´ll know, the unanimous consensus from everyone we´ve talked with is that "Beyond the sea" is the best episode to date-an episode that you have a prominent role in.
GILLIAN: Oh, thank you.
MILLER: Of xourse, it was certainly helped by having a guest star of the caliber of Brad Dourif.
GILLIAN: Oh, absolutely. He was fabulouse. Everybody really worked especially hard on that one, and the script was fabulous, and there was a lot of work with on an emotional level. It was a pleasure to work on that.
MILLER: Anything you wanted to say that we didn´t cover that you´ve been dying to announce to the world?
GILLIAN: (laughter) No, I can´t think of anything. i think you covered it.
MILLER: Thanks for your time!
Transcript provided by konchong and appears courtesy of Wrapped In Plastic.