July 1998 (Issue #24)
Hello New York
By Melissa J. Perenson
Forget Godzilla - Gillian Anderson took on New York City at the X-Files Expo.
IN NEW YORK, everything tends to be on a grand scale, and The X-Files Expo Tour was no exception. When Twentieth Century Fox's travelling X-Files roadshow arrived in the Big Apple the weekend in early May, it promised to be the biggest Expo of them all - due in no small part to the highly anticipated appearance of series star Gillian Anderson. In fact, there was only one venue large enough in Manhattan to accommodate the expected crowds: the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
Anderson, who of course plays the enigmatic Special Agent Dana Scully, made a rare public appearance - only her second time before a crowd of fans in the US. Her previous appearance was over two years ago at an X-Files fan convention in Burbank, California, well before the show had reached its current level of pop culture phenomenon. In addition to Anderson, other X-Files actors past and present on hand included: Nicholas Lea (Alex Krycek), Dean Hagland (Langley), Steven Williams (X), and Frank Spotnitz (writer and co-executive producer on the series).
Of course, the big attraction here was Anderson, and neither the nasty downpour outside nor the severe lack of seating could keep spirits down. Like its predecessors, this Expo suffered from its share of logistical difficulties. Most of the $40 general admission ticket holders were relegated to standing room only , and even some of the premium $65 guaranteed seating ticket holders found themselves without a place to sit. Inevitably, many attendees were disappointed when it came to the autograph lottery: less than 1,000 lucky people walked away with Anderson's autograph after a random lottery in which visitors had to have a bar coded ticket scanned in order to learn if they'd won their chance at Anderson's signature.
"New York will definitely be our strongest Expo," predicted Sabrina Ironside, executive director of worldwide promotions for Twentieth Century Fox. Strong, indeed: The two-day charity auction benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation grossed nearly $20,000, due in no small part to the success of four poster-board mounted, oversized reproductions of the Details cover featuring Anderson covered in silver paint; both days. two of these unique items went for $2,500, and Anderson came on stage with the winners to personally autograph the items.
When Anderson did appear - a bit later than schedule - she seemed a bit daunted by the sea of nearly 6,500 faces in the crowd, nervously turning back towards the curtain at first while ducking her head modestly at the simultaneous overwhelming applause, standing ovation, and glare of camera flashes. In a first for the Expo tour, flash photography was allowed during the first five minutes of each speaker's stage time.
But it takes more than a crowd to throw Anderson for a loop. Reflecting on her Expo experience, the actress says, "It is overwhelming, but, also, I have to think of it as myself being a representative of the show. It's great for an afternoon, a couple of hours, then you go home to real life."
The Expo wasn't Anderson's first experience with big crowds, either: "I was in a very bizarre situation - which spoiled me for that in a way - having been in Australia a couple of years previously, because of the fact that Australia is literally the end of the Earth," explains Anderson. "Usually bands go to Australia either at the beginning of the tour when they're still pretty green or at the end of the tour when they really do not give a damn about being there or just want to go home. So I showed up in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, and there were about 12,000 to 15,000 [people] in each place. That had been my previous experience, so having had that experience, 6,500 people, you know, just didn't cut it," she laughs.
When initial enthusiastic cheers to her arrival finally died down, Anderson greeted the crowd with a hearty: "Hellooo New York!!!" Anderson proved the gracious star while on stage, and she appeared to be genuinely touched and deeply affected by the attention and adulation being lavished on her by the crowd. In fact, her good-natured enthusiasm towards participating on stage was infectious, and fueled the already-pumped crowd.
The audience took turns lobbing questions at Anderson from the centrally-located microphones; Anderson, in turn, deftly handled everything from the more serious queries about her character, the show, and herself to more light-hearted and sometimes inane and very personal - topics that were broached.
When asked about her favorite episode: "I have to say that now, 'Bad Blood' had got to be one of my favorites. [Load cheers from audience.] I dont think any of us realized when we were doing it that it was actually going to come out like it did. I just I cracked up through the whole thing!"
On Scully's characterization in "Never Again," she claimed "In terms of 'Never Again,' I would like to address that, because something did occur to me. As we were working on [the show], you see these characters, you're seeing one facet of their lives and to a degree you have to imagine that there is something else. And I know for myself and for a lot of people that I know, what you see of them in a room, at work, or in a relationship, or in public can be very, very different from what they are underneath. So who knows that [Scully] may not have a dark side that just once in a while kind of peeks its head out?"
The highlight of the day, though, had to be the rousing impromptu sing-a-long prompted by one bold audience member who asked Anderson to sing "Joy to the World." Laughing uncontrollably, Anderson finally agreed - by popular demand - to sing the verse, "Jeremiah is a bullfrog...", just as Scully had sang to Mulder in the fifth season episode, Detour, but only if the audience joined her.
Another memorable moment came when the Internet-based group, The Order of the Blessed Saint Scully the Enigmatic, presented Anderson with a name plate for Scully's desk. "Being Scullyist, the fact that Scully has long been denied a desk or even her name on the damn door has long been a sore spot for our group," explains group co-leader Autumn Tysko, who gave it to Anderson.
Anderson laughed when she saw the name plate, and then jokingly added, "I think I have to have a desk first!"
Give the OBSSE time - on the back of the name plate was the inscription, "Gillian - we're still working on the desk."
Notes Tysko, "It's nice to know that she accepted the gift in the spirit it was presented and seemed to enjoy it. We're just hoping that when Mulder and Scully get their new office our handiwork will be present."
Transcript provided by Alfred Tow and appears courtesy of Xpose.