November 2000 (Issue #50)
Home is Where the X Is
By Jean Cummings
She's back for another year. Gillian Anderson shares with Jean Cummings her feelings on the changes in store for her on and off the X-Files set.
EVEN THOUGH Gillian Anderson was signed for an eighth season of TV's The X-Files, she had publicly said she'd not be back on the show. She made the remarks in part because David Duchovny and creator director Chris Carter were both unsigned for an eighth year. Of course, they subsequently did sign on for the new season, which, according to Gillian Anderson left her no choice but to not only honor her contract but agree to even a ninth season!
She defends her stance against returning by saying, "At the time I was absolutely exhausted. It was the seventh year, and no one had ever thought that it was going to go beyond five years. I mean, five years seemed like a huge amount of time. "So at that time doing an eighth season just felt impossible," she explains, "Then, I took my first real hiatus away from any kind of work. Also, I started to talk to Chris about the eighth season and I heard his enthusiasm.
"He was excited about this new character he had created and that perhaps that could be a good thing, and all of that entered my mind." However, that idea of working opposite new cast member Robert Patrick, as appealing as it might be, was only part of the reason she decided to return to the series. The other reason was simply the pressure of business in Hollywood.
"At the beginning, when Fox started talking about a ninth season, that was even more unheard of than even an eighth. I mean, it was just impossible in my mind. But then push came to shove," she says. The push came from Foz, which shoved the actress to where she felt she had no choice but to abide by the pressures imposed on her. "It's a complicated issue, because Chris and the writers wanted to produce the best show possible. Now there's a formula in making that work, particularly this season with losing David for most of the shows and bringing in a new character.
"So to suddenly have Scully absent also was a tall order," she continues. "Consequently, it was a necessity for me to continue." And that's where the real push came in her contract negotiations, which hinged on her belief that her pay versus Duchovny's was too unfair. "At the end of the fifth year, it became just ridiculous and unacceptable that there was the disparity," she says. "So we took steps to remedy that and we were successful. Then there was the issue whereby I was already signed on for the eighth season and David was not, which put him in a better position. "He was in a better leveraging position," she says candidly.
"Therefore, in order to get what he felt was fair, he agreed to do the eighth season. Conversely, I had to do what I felt was fair. Fox was asking for a ninth season and I said no. "And they said, 'well if you're not going to do a ninth season then we're not going to pay you what you want.' So in order to negotiate fairly, I had to agree to do the ninth year."
Still, she did so begrudgingly. One reason is that she'd made the commitment to have her daughter, Piper, begin her schooling in Vancouver on the belief that she'd be living there. At the same time, the young mom figured she'd be more of a full-time mother than she is.
"Fortunately, they [Fox] have been very generous and have been trying very, very hard to make it possible for me to spend more time with Piper," she admits. "As much as anyone can say, 'Oh well, she can be on the set with you,' it's not the same. It's not the same as having quality time with a child, and they've been really wonderful about it.
It's a challenge, though, she says. It's challenging because Piper started first grade and I think it's important that she be in one place instead of traveling back and forth. So she's going to school in Canada this year and I am going up there every few episodes to be with her."
She admits the arrangement is inconvenient, but says, yes but theres a lot of things that would be more convenient but they're not, It's just basically trying to find the best scenario for the situation at the moment. And this is the situation that we're in right now and this is the best way to handle it."
There is a hint of sarcasm to her voice, and she won't deny that committing to the show and being forced to be separated from her daughter was something she simply had no choice but to accept. "I was over a barrel," she says, in referring again to her negotiations with Fox Television.
"There's no two ways about it. I was over a barrel, a very big barrel. And it was uncomfortable, you know, to be in that position. Here's a company that I had worked so hard for for so long and I put a lot of time and energy into doing the best work that I could.
"For them to come to 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. This is what we need in order for you to be compensated,' it was unfair," she says without hesitation. "We worked it out in the end but it was incredibly uncomfortable and unfortunate."
Nevertheless, with the contractual issue behind her, she's now committed to the series and its new look. "I think there's a new energy," she says of the show without Duchovny. "It's just something has shifted, and there's just an overall sense like, 'Okay, we've got another year, maybe even two years, to keep going, so how are we going to make this okay and not be resentful that we're doing the same damn thing for the eighth and ninth year in a row.'
I think everybody has really kind of pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and marched ourselves forward in a very positive light and in an energetic and enthusiastic way.
"So this season feels good, it feels fresh," she says. Robert's come in and he's glad to be here. He's done, like, 55 films and I can imagine that it's nice to have the security of the show for at least as long as it may run.
"So he's got a very enthusiastic energy and that enthusiasm and the opportunity of creating a new character for the writers I think has given the show new energy. And it gives the actors something new to work with, and that's also true for the writers.
"So there's a kind of a feeling of starting over in a sense." she suggests. "Ut's like a new beginning. Keeping in mind where we're come from, who we've come with and everything, it feels good." Of course, there is the concern that the long-time loyal audience might not embrace Patrick in his role, to which Gillian is philosophical. "Well, 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.
However, if they accept him and they get in step with this new and interesting character, then we can move things forward in its own direction. It's going to be what it's going to be she offers. It will be nice if people keep an open mind and not be too afraid or judgemental, initially, about what it's going to be. I just feel like we need to give the guy [Robert] a break.
One of the obvious questions for the series fans is what the relationship is going to be between Gillian's popular character and Robert's new one. The actress doesn't hesitate when asked and she says, "I think it's a different kind of dynamic that these two characters have. There's defiitely a very strong personality attraction between the two of them. I think that you can feel that on film. There's an intensity between the two characters that I think will be very provocative.
Of course, there is 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, and there is respect there from both parties towards that relationship.
Part of that relationship has been the difference in opinion the two TV characters have had about the supernatural and psychic phenomena. Ironically enough, in her private life, the actress confides that she has been to a psychic several times. I've been to many psychics in my life, she says and had wonderful experiences, I usually will seek out a psychic at a time when I feel like I'm at an impasse. When I am feeling stuck in some way either emotionally or spiritually.
Or, she exclaims, when I can't seem to figure out wha'ts going on and i need some guidance or I need some hope to lead me in the right direction. No, she won't share whether she sought such help in dealing with her return to The X Files However, it's obvious that while making the agreement to do so wasn't the most cherished decision she's had to make, she's back. And she's determined to make the best of it.
Transcript appears courtesy of Xpose.