February 20, 1997
By David Lipsky
Itís the last location shot before Christmas, and you can fell the restlessness of the X-Files crew. The script requires Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny to lift extremely realistic severed head that is dipping into a stainless steel tub. "All right, lets kick it in the ass!" shouts the director. But the actorís feet are having a hard time locating the sceneís buttocks, and the crew has become concerned. ďI donít know how many more takes that head has left in it,Ē the effects guy whispers. Finally the stars hit their lines, and relieved production staff exchanges holiday farewells and hugs. Duchovny snags my tape recorder about the show, reels off a mock opening sentence for this story: "As they say goodbye for the Christmas holidays, they all seem to really like one another."
Anderson, finishing up some hugs of her own, is more sincere. "I really love this crew," she tells me, sounding a less skeptical note than the character she plays on TV. "They are all incredibly wonderful, human, selfless people. And theyíre all a family." I follow her back to her trailer, where she changes into street clothes - fuzzy V -neck, jeans, glasses, baseball cap - and looks less like a celebrity than a study partner. Which is part of her appeal. I ask if she has special plans for the holiday break, and she tells me that sheís off to spend two days at an ashram. A few minutes later she adds, "I think that we are all connected by a universal rhythmic energy," and I understand that after nearly 100 X-Files episodes, the danger has never been of her turning into Scully; the danger is that sheíll turn into Duchovnyís character, Mulder.
DAVID: I hear youíre tired of always being asked the same questions.
GILLIAN: I donít know what question would be more fun to answer. But for the longest time, everybody has asked, "Do you believe in UFOs?'" "Are Mulder and Scully going to get together?" Iíve heard my same response to all those questions so many times I just canít do it anymore.
DAVID: So letís start with something new: I saw on the Internet that youíre angry because David Duchovnyís salary is twice as high as yours.
GILLIAN: Oh, boy. [Laughs] So weíre gonna start with that one? I knew - going into this season - that was the way it was going to be. It was something that I was attempting to handle privately and just make some kind of statement about the lack of equality not being OK. And somehow it got public. I havenít actually talked about it that much at all.
DAVID: Have things always been so inequitable?
GILLIAN: Actually, I originally got even less than half than David. It was OK at the time. He was coming off 10 feature, and I was coming off of nothing. But things have shifted, in that weíre now in the fourth season of a two-person show. And weíre continuing to do the same amount of work. A lot of people have actually come up to me, just kind of quietly, and said, "Iím glad that youíre taking a stand." On the other hand, itís obviously not doing any good.
DAVID: Most people on the Internet took your side. Did you catch any of it?
GILLIAN: No. But I did see on the Internet that someone is selling an independent movie called The Turning - that was my first on-camera work. The British papers are calling it a porn film. Thereís one very innocent scene between me and [the person who plays] my sweetheart. Heís come back from running away from home, and they have a very intimate scene, making love on the kitchen floor. What they end up showing is nothing. I mean. He takes my shirt off - I donít even know if he actually takes my bra off. And then you see my naked back on the floor. So if people buy it, they are going to be sorely disappointed.
DAVID: Learned any other interesting things about yourself from reading the papers?
GILLIAN: A pet name which I had completely forgotten about until I saw it in the tabloids. In a relationship I was in while I was in high school, my boyfriend called Grae.
DAVID: Where do you think that came from?
GILLIAN: I have no idea. Whatís funny is, emotionally I went from gray to black to white. Gray was London, where we lived until I was 11. And the black thing was high school in Grand Rapids, Mich. Thatís when I became a punk, but there was a whole summer before, when I wore sweaters and jeans and an olive-drab Army jacket, and it was almost as if Iíd trained my body not to sweat. And white has been the past couple of years.
DAVID: There was a punk scene in Grand Rapids?
GILLIAN: It was small - for a while, my boyfriend and I were like the couple in the Grand Rapids underground scene. It spread to Kalamazoo [Mich.], which is close by, where underground bands go to play. And weíd see people like Butthole Surfers and Circle Jerks there.
DAVID: Would you like Scully if you ran into her at a party?
GILLIAN: I think so, but Iím not sure how much weíd have to talk about. Sheís not very spontaneous; I am. She can live without close personal relationships; I cannot. She is obscenely intelligent, and I am not. She is at least 5 foot 6, and I am not.
DAVID: How many more rounds do you think you can go with her?
GILLIAN: Itís hard to keep being the skeptic. Iíve had this conversation a couple of times with [X-Files producer Chris Carter], where Iíve just said, "I have a feeling that the audience is laughing at me because Iím saying essentially the same stuff over and over again." And the answer, via Chris, is that she is a scientist; she is a forensic pathologist; she is a medical doctor. And heís right: I mean, thatís the formula that works.
DAVID: So have you been doing anything thatís not Scully?
GILLIAN: I just recorded a single. I did the narration for a nine-part BBC documentary series called Future Fantastic. And I would hear the track from the series, and kept saying, "My God, what is that music? Thatís fabulous." And I went to the producer about it. I said, "This music is great. You have to put together a CD." And he said, "Well would you be willing to put together some vocals on it?" And I said, "I donít sing. But would be willing to do something on it." So he presented me with some samples of stuff I could say, and it was quite poetic and erotic, and we came up with what I think is a really great dance single. Itís hot. Itís not a new career move by any means, but it made me feel fun and alive while I was working on it. Itís coming out in March.
DAVID: Chris Crater mentioned to me that he might not stick around after next season - that he might follow some new career paths. What do you make of that?
GILLIAN: Chris is our life force. I mean, he will settle for nothing less than the best, and because of that, the series is what it is. So my fear is that then heís gone, that life force will be sucked out of the show. Heís an octopus, and without him...weíll become plankton drifting in somebody elseís sea.
After four years, the stars have worked out some tricky underwater patterns of their own. "Itís complicated," Anderson says. "We can be very in sync. And there are times when we are just in two different worlds and just coming in to do our work." Duchovny has contributed story ideas: Anderson as not. She feels that - because of her first-season pregnancy, which required a conspiracy malevolent enough to keep her offscreen for two weeks - she inadvertently turned the show toward its mythology episodes. "There are certain people on the show who are aware of that," she says. "And there are certain people on the show who donít want to admit that." Duchovny has yet to speak with Anderson about her salary dispute.
You can feel the competitiveness on the set. Duchovny is obviously the favored child. He kids around with the prop coordinators while Anderson accepts a massage from the setís masseuses and tries to focus. Duchovny seems surprised and mildly hurt that Iím here to talk only to Anderson. When he and I do speak for a moment, it doesnít get by her. As she collects her things and shuts her trailerís lights for the last time in 1996, she has a question: "What did you just talk about with David?"
Transcript appears courtesy of Rolling Stone Magazine.