by Jenny Cooney Carillo
Gillian Anderson tells Jenny Cooney Carillos why she has signed up for a ninth season of THE X FILES.
They say it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind. Late last year, Gillian Anderson looked me in the eye and said she would not be returning for another season of The X Files, regardless of what her contract said. So what happened?
The actress seems feistier than usual and more candid than ever when we sat down in Beverly Hills - 25 September, her day off - to catch up on all these questions and answers. With David Duchovny minimizing his involvement in the show, Anderson seems genuinely excited about the new season and her new on-screen partner, Robert Patrick.
Off-screen, she's busier than ever, dividing her time between her Malibu beach home and Vancouver, Canada, where her 6 year old daughter, Piper resides with her father and now attends school. So, what is the story behind her return for not just one season but a ninth too?
Q: You swore to me last year there would be no way you would come back.....
I think at the time I was absolutely exhausted and it was during the seventh year and no one had ever thought that it was going to go on beyond five years. Even that seemed like a huge amount of time, so fathoming an eighth season back then felt impossible. But I guess over the break, taking my first real hiatus away from any kind of work, I started to have conversations with Chris Carter about the eighth season and I heard his enthusiasm about the new character that he had created, and the concept that perhaps it could be a good thing started to enter my mind.
But a new contract for a ninth season too?
To be honest, when Fox started talking about a ninth season, that was even more unheard of and it just seemed impossible. But when push came to shove, here I am.
Did it have something to do with money and the disparity in salaries between you and David?
I think by the end of the fifth year it became just ridiculous and unacceptable that htere was the disparity that there was and so we took steps to remedy that and were successful. But what then became an issue was that Iwas already signed on for an eighth season and David was not, so he was in a much better leveraging position. In order for him to get what he felt was fair, he agreed to do an eighth season. In order to get what I felt was fair in light of that was to offer them a ninth season. When they first asked, I said absolutely not and they said, 'Well we're not going to pay you what you deserve if you're not going to do a ninth season,' so in order to even negotiate fairly, I needed to agree to do a ninth year.
Chris said they made some compensations for you to spend more time in Canada with your daughter. Did that make the decision to stay easier?
Yes. It's a complicated issue. Chris and the writers want to produce the best show they can and there is a particular formula for making that work in a season when we are losing David for most of the episodes and bringing in a new character. To suddenly have the character of Scully to be absent from time to time was a tall order, but it was an absolute necessity for me in continuing, and fortunately they have been very generous and tried very hard to make that possible for me to spend more time with her. As much as anyone can say, 'Oh she can visit you on the set when she's in LA,' it's not the same as having quality time with a child. She's starting first grade and I think it's important that she be in one place instead of travelling back and forth, so she's in one place and I'm travelling back and forth, which I think is better for her.
So how do you feel about returning? You're basically saying that Fox had you over a barrel, right?
F***, yeah! Absolutely I was over a barrel and there are no two ways about it. I was over a very large barrel and it was very uncomfortable to be in that position with a company that I had worked so hard for, for so long and put so much time and energy into doing the best work that I could.
To have them come in front of me and say, 'Well, you know, forget about that. This is what we need right now and we don't care what your needs are as a parent or anything but this is what we need in order for you to be compensated,' it was unfair," and we have worked it out now but at the time it was incredibly uncomfortable and unfortunate.
So when will we find out who is the father of Scully's baby?
That is a good question and I wish I could answer that for you. Probably before Christmas, I think. When we're most likely to shoot that episode I'm not exactly sure. I do know who the father is and Scully sure knows, but who knows - it could change by the time we shoot it!
How did you feel about the new character, John Doggett? Will there be an attraction?
I think it is a very different dynamic that these two characters share. There is definitely a very strong personality attraction between them. I think you can feel that tangibly on the screen.. And that intensity will be provocative this season. But there is also the history of Mulder and that relationship in her life and the importance of that person in her life that lives on in the series. So there is respect there from both parties towards that relationship.
Do you have any suggestions as to how you would like to see Scully's pregnancy explained?
I think, if it were up to me, it would be Mulder's child. Possibly something took place during all the things that happened when Scully woke up in Mulder's apartment, and then at some point Scully was abducted again and found herself in the ship with Mulder. As they're lying together on these metal platforms, they start to flashback through what happened that night thaat she became impregnated, and then she wakes up and she's in her own bed and there's blood everywhere and she is no longer pregnant. They've taken her baby from her and her search now not only becomes about looking for Mulder, but also about looking for her baby.
So are you happy working with Robert Patrick?
You may have been able to see from meeting Robert that he's glad to be here and glad to have a job. He's done, like 55 films, and I can imagine it's nice for him to have the security of a show for as long as it may run.
He's got enthusiastic energy and that enthusiasm and the opportunity of creating a new character for the writers has imbued the show with a new energy and it gives us more to work with. So there's a kind of a feeling of starting over in a sense.
Like a whole new show?
Like new beginnings but at the same time keeping in mind where we're come from. This one recent article [in Entertainment Weekly] really pissed me off because there was a lot of skepticism expressed about how the new season would unfold and how the fans would accept this, and as far as I'm concerned we shouldn't set it up for failure. if it means that we just do one season with Robert because the fans just can't deal with Mulder not being around, then that's what we'll do. If they accept him and they get what a new and interesting character he is and how it can move things forward in its own direction, that's great too. It would be nice if people keep an open mind about it and were not initially afraid and judgemental about it. I feel like we need to give the guy a break.
So you aren't happy with the press right now?
The press is just part of all this. Some days you may wake up after working till five in the morning and think, I can't believe I have to put on make-up and go talk about stuff and I don't have anything left to say.' But believe it or not, I was actually looking forward to seeing you today. This really feels like a new beginning for all of us and I'm enthusiastic about Robert's ability to play this character. He works really hard and is a sweetheart.
Will you continue to direct this season?
I doubt that I will this season. I would only want to direct something if I were to write it again. I can't imagine how I wrote [all things], period, and certainly not another right now. I enjoyed it tremendously and it was an incredible learning experience that helped me really understand on a new level what it is that these people I work with do on a daily basis, but I can't imagine how I would manage it this year with all the travelling.
Can you protect Piper from your fame?
The older she gets, the more she sees. Most of the time when I'm out in public and somebody asks for an autograph, if I'm with her I usually say no. When she was younger I didn't want her to witness other people treating me specially, but things slipped through the cracks and so she's seen it and knows what is going on and it is an incredible challenge. I am incredibly fortunate and incredibly blessed to have a constant job and be paid what I get paid to stand in front of a camera, so the financial security is great. But the challenge is for her not to come to expect that and expose her to the way the rest of the world lives. We spent some time in London last summer and I purposefully took her on the subway every single day - it was great to see her sit in the midst of every race and culture and she was just in awe because she lives in such a homogenized world.
Could you really get away with using the tube unrecognized?
To be honest, I was afraid, but people responded to me less when I was not afraid. When I first started out, I got claustrophobic and afraid and thought people were looking at me and I had to get us out of there. Then I tried it a few days later and I wore a hat and just sat there with my back kind of turned and it was like nothing happened. Most of the time people would go, 'Is that her? No, impossible! What would Gillian Anderson be doing riding the tube!"
You made a period movie, House of Mirth last summer. Was it difficult leaving Scully behind?
It's tough because Scully has done everything. She's cried, screamed, laughed..... and to express those emotions on camera without a modicum of Scullyness is a challenge. But I continue to work on it and work on it while I'm doing the film. It's not so much that I fall into doing Scully, but it's more that I am so adamant about not doing anything Scully-like that I have to keep a pretty keen awareness of it at all times.
(The other part of the DreamWatch interview is with Robert Patrick.)
Transcript appears courtesy of Dreamwatch.