April 1995 (Issue #213)
X Heroine: Actress, wife, mother & sex symbol, Gillian Anderson is doing it all.
Gillian Anderson, Special Agent Dana Scully of The X-Files, is not your ordinary sex symbol. Neither leggy nor busty, she's referred to by some of her fans IDDG, which stands for "Intellectually Drop-Dead Gorgeous". They love her for her mind.
These days, the addition of her new daughter, Piper, has put even more layers on Anderson's persona, while adding some fascinating plot twists to The X-Files and decreasing the free hours in her days.
"I probably get about five hours' sleep a night, but with the schedule it ends up being pretty crazy," says Anderson. She sounds tired, yet she has a positive attitude. Carrying half of an hour-long weekly series involves 14- to 16-hour days, which leaves little time for her new husband and baby. But she's coping.
Anderson was married on New Year's Day 1994 to art director Clyde Klotz, whom she met on the set of The X-Files. A month later, she discovered she was pregnant, much to the surprise of everyone, especially the series' creator and executive producer, Chris Carter.
"Well, he was shocked," Anderson recalls. "Understandably, I mean, everybody was." Since the show's ratings at the time weren't spectacular, there were many questions about what would be done. "It was a huge risk, I think, for all of us to just go ahead with it. I don't think Chris was too happy about it."
Carter nevertheless stood behind Anderson in her decision to proceed and says, "It was her choice, not mine." Rumors printed in another publication that the Fox Network wanted him to recast the role of Scully took Carter by surprise. He responds, "I can tell you emphaticaly that that was never something they tried to make me do."
The ways the X-Files creative team worked with the situation ranged from the simple to the inspired. Camera angles were used to hid Anderson's condition and scripts that called for less footage of Agent Scully were written. When here condition became too obvious, the witers created a plotline in which the X-Files section was closed down and Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully were separated.
When Anderson's due date approached, they filmed an episode in which Scully was kidnapped. "It was pretty rough, but pretty easy at the same time," says Anderson. "There were so many things I couldn't do and the camera couldn't do because there were only certain ways they could shoot me. But on the other hand, I think they did a fabulous job with what they had."
Quizzed about rewrites, she says, "They don't write scripts until we're just about to shoot them anyway. So they didn't have to do any rewriting. They just bascially went ahead as scheduled and wrote the scripts. There were some in which I was kind of in the background and they shot me out for three days."
One of the most creative ideas involved a scene shortly after Scully's abduction in which Mulder's imagination got the better of him. He imagined aliens experimenting on Scully and inflating her belly like a balloon. The scene incorporated Anderson's eight-month bulge, her skin stretched tight and looking very much as if it were inflated. "I'm not sure whose idea that was," Anderson admits. "I liked the idea."
Carter's reaction is also positive. "I'm very pleased with the way [the pregnancy] added to the show rather than took away from it," he says.
Anderson was two days overdue when daughter Piper Anderson was born by C-section on September 25, 1994. though she went into regular labor, the surgery was necessary because the baby wouldn't come out. Despite her extended hospitalization, there was only one episode where Scully was written out. In "3", Mulder was on his own with Scully missing, and became involved witha woman who was into vamprirism. anderson returned to work 10 days after the surgery, lying in a hospital bed as Scully in a coma.
"It was rough." Anderson's voice confirms her exhaustion. "I was on tylenol and codeine, but that stopped before I got back to work."
There was much concern about how viewers would react to the Scully abduction plot arc, which is the sort of device rarely used so early in a new series. But fan reaction has been positive and ratings have climbed steadily. Relative to the first season, the Nielsen ratings fro the second season's first eight episodes were up 53 percent overall, according to a Fox spokesperson. In some demographic groups, The X-Files ranks #1 in its time slot.
The online fans who post on the Internet (examined in Starlog Platinum Edition #4) have been enthusiastic about the birth, sending gifts and making charitable donations in Anderson's name. She appreciates the gifts, and has telephoned some thank-yous via an assistant.
According to the notes posted on the various computer bulletin boards, even the men say she's just as gorgeous as ever. The sigh of relief at scully's return in the episode On Breath was almost audible across North America. There was even rejoicing among online Australian fans, htough the second season episodes won't be aired Down Under until much later.
"I think it's wonderful," Anderson notes of the online adoration. "I mean, it has been helping the show an it's wonderful that we have a constant following. I haven't actually logged on myself, but I'm aware of their presence."
She doesn't see much of what's posted on the bulletin boards. "Just recently I saw some stuff for the first time. It's pretty amazing how involved it gets." Anderson doesn't log onto the Internet because she doesn't want what's said to influence her portrayal of Scully. Lurking on the boards is also time-consuming.
"I see myself, if I really got involved, spending hourse reading stuff," Anderson says. "But my energy need to be in other areas right now." She also admits her frustration at being unable to read much fan mail any more. "I just haven't had time to read it lately. And I feel guilty about that."
Motherhood in itself is tiring, and has taken its toll on Anderson. "Mostly it's the exhaustion and the stress, but I wouldn't wish it to be any other way in terms of Piper."
Reaction to the baby on the set seems positive. Anderson says, "They were all working on the show and they're all incredibly supportive anyway. They felt that I was making the right decision."
Piper doesn't seem to be a disturbance on the set, either. "They don't actually get to see her that much. She's in my trailer a lot of the time." A nanny tends to the baby while Anderson is before the camera. The hardest thing for her, she says, is being away from the baby so soon. "That's the time you just want to be with her all the time."
Her husband is learning to cope as well. "He's doing OK. It's a much greater shock for any husband. It's easier for the mother because you have all that time to prepare; your body prepares, your mind, your hormones. Men don't really have the preparation for sleep distraction that women do. But he's handling it very well. He loves her to death."
Anderson (who previously discussed The X-Files in Starlog Platinum Edition #2) is also coping with working and living in Vancouver as opposed to Los Angeles. "I've grown to like it. It was difficult at first because it wasn't home at all." Her husband is Canadian and Piper will have dual citizenship, so Andersson doesn't see herself leaving Vancouver for good. "We'll be going back and forth after the show ends, whatever year that is."
All indications are that The X-Files won't end for a long time. The growing momentum in the ratings suggests that people are seeing someting worth watching Friday nights.
Anderson says, "I think it's very timely right now. People are ready for this sort of show. There are many elements about The X-Files that are appealing. The scripts are really good and they lead people down an interesting path. We have a lot of money to spend, so the episodes look great, and we look fantastic and I think people really love the mood that comes across on screen."
Scully's relationship with Mulder is another big attraction, according to Anderson. "I think people are intrigued by the relationship between Mulder and Scully and intrigued by the platonic professionalism and the sexual tension at the same time."
Confronted with the idea that some viewers don't actually see the sexual tension between Mulder and Scully, Anderson seems puzzled. "I've reports from people who have thought that way, too. I don't know, maybe it's decreased over time. It used to be there. I think it still is."
The relationship has developed over the past year. "It has changed," Anderson admits, "because of everything that they've been through together. The mutual respect has continued and I think that as Scully sees more, she has developed more of an open mind. As with Mulder, they're both in search of the truth in terms of the cases they're working on at the time."
How did Scully learn to open her mind to extreme possibility? "She has seen so much and sh'e not so quick to tell him he's wrong of that something ca't happen. She's more likely to listen to what he has to say and together they find the truth rather than both coming from completely opposite directions." Though surely Scully will nver be the believer Mulder is.
"Scully's as open as she's going to get. She has a need to go back to finding the scientific and plausible solution behind stuff. Ande there are always going to be some things she must rely on in terms of here scientific background. So that's how she's going to perceive stuff first and foremost."
On the subject of the dry humor found in most of the scripts, she says, "It does fluctuate. I like it when there's humo, but it's hard to write it in all the time. and sometimes, depending on the subject matter that we're dealing with, it's inappropriate. But I enjoy it when it's there."
As an actress, Anderson has no freedom to improvise within the script. "There's a specific formula that seems to work and that they've been writing by for some time. It's basically a given when we get scripts that that's what we do. There isn't really any time to do improvisation or anything."
Anderson's appreciation of the quality of writing in The X-Files is clear when she mentions the dparture of Glen Morgan and James Wong, the show's most popular writing tam (Starlog #210). "I hate it. I think they're fabulous writers. I'm sure there are many talented writers out there, it's just that they know the show and they're good at what they do." The team has left to product their own pilot for Fox called Space.
Meanwhile, The X-Files is going strong, gaining a following and generating merchandise sales. Anderson doesn't know how she feels about such things, and chuckles over the idea of a Scully action figure. She doesn't even own an X-Files mug. "I've never actually seen one. What color are tehy?" Though it's really no surprise she doesn't have one; merchandisers are having trouble filling orders and stores that carry X-products report the stuff sells as quickly as it arrives.
With ratings on the rise, enraptured viewers are no doubt curious what will occur next now that Scully is back in action and the X-Files section has been re-instated. As Chris Carter likes to say, though, "Anything can happen."
Transcript appears courtesy of Starlog.