September 11, 1999
Emmy Countdown: They're Not Nominal Nominees
By Greg Braxton
What, me worry? Gillian Anderson leaves the angst to her 'X-Files' character.
Fright. Terror. Frayed nerves. Jitters.
These feelings are all too familiar to the determined scientific and pragmatic FBI Agent Dana Scully in her investigations of the X-Files, unsolved cases characterized by their unexplainable and paranormal nature. But Scully's alter ego, Gillian Anderson, who has portrayed Scully in the hit Fox drama "The X-Files" for the last six seasons, is the epitome of calm and peace just days before the nighttime Emmy Awards, even though she might be excused for engaging in some nail-biting and worrying due to her nomination as best actress in a dramatic series. Oh, sure, Anderson--who won an Emmy in 1997 for the series--says she is almost sure to have some butterflies floating in her stomach on the limo ride to the Shrine Auditorium where the event will be staged on Sunday. But for now, there are no pre-Emmy shakes, no anxiousness over what to wear, no lip-biting about preparing an acceptance speech, no worrying about the competition.
Even the near-disaster that erupted two years ago when she drew flak after winning the Emmy and forgetting to thank the cast and crew of "The X-Files" in her acceptance speech doesn't bring back anguished memories.
She has dealt with the snafu and moved on. For the actress, this year's nomination represents more than just a glitzy evening of camera flashes and glamour and a possible return to the winner's circle. There is more heartfelt significance and satisfaction this time around, and she is more appreciative of the honor the nomination carries. There is also a bittersweetness, for it is arriving during what she declares is her last season on the series.
"As my experience with this adventure comes to an end, I am appreciative of all aspects of it," says Anderson as she relaxes in her large trailer on the 20th Century Fox lot where the series is headquartered. "It's all much more important to me. I feel more grateful. And in some ways, it is more difficult. We have established a family here. We have an incredible history that can never be duplicated in any way. And my gratefulness for everyone involved has been heightened."
Anderson added, "Aside from the fanfare, what it really comes down to is the work. This is a celebration of the work. The essence of the fanfare and the hoopla is good--it's important to connect with that. When you're asked time and time again, 'What does it feel like to be nominated?' it's important to have the right answer, and that it be meaningful. But when it comes to the core of it, it really is a celebration of the work."
She has special praise for her co-star David Duchovny, who portrays her partner Fox Mulder, and series creator Chris Carter, saying that her excitement at receiving the nomination was diminished when she heard moments later that Duchovny and the series had not received nominations.
"I wish everyone involved could be celebrated and honored for their hard work," Anderson says. "I celebrate their hard work."
And she is hoping that the focus remains on the work, despite the controversy currently surrounding the series as a result of the lawsuit filed last month by Duchovny against 20th Century Fox Film Corp., the producers of the series. Duchovny alleges in the Los Angeles Superior Court suit that Fox gave its broadcast stations and FX cable channel sweetheart licensing deals for "The X-Files" rather than seek the highest bid in a competitive auction.
Says Anderson: "I haven't thought about it, and I honestly hope the questions I'm asked don't go that way. Because I have no comment."
Encountering Anderson outside the frantic shooting atmosphere and schedule of the series is to be reminded of how much she has accomplished with the role of Scully. Unlike the FBI agent, Anderson has a delicate and soft air highlighted by an unexpected and stunning beauty. Her red hair and blue eyes also hint at a sensuality that is largely absent from Scully, despite the occasional flare-ups of sexual tension between her and Mulder.
Scully is the less flashy and more grounded member of the Scully-Mulder duo. In theory, the role has less "meat" and less range than Mulder. But Anderson has overcome the restrictions.
"Oftentimes Scully was the straight man, the fuddy-duddy, the stick in the mud," Carter said. "It took away the opportunity to lighten up. But Gillian has made sure that the character is not rigid by her approach. She has proven among other things to be a wonderful comedic actress. What she has done is expand the character by her strength, using qualities that are so unlike Scully."
He added, "It is unreal to me that we are heading into our seventh season together. I've seen Gillian grow in so many ways. She has from the beginning shown unfailing instincts about Scully. Her notes and ideas and questions--and her objections to some of the ways that the character has been written--have always been smart. What you see is a person that completely assumed and became a character, and has been a part of the impetus of that character's growth."
Anderson says: "In the beginning, I was fine with being just two-dimensional. I didn't know any different. But then [former writers and producers Glen Morgan and James Wong] wrote a script in the second season that was Scully-based, and it was really exciting. It was my turn to step up to the plate. Since then, the writers have started to concentrate more on her, giving her more feeling, instead of just following in the footsteps of Mulder."
She grows more reflective about the historic impact of "The X-Files." "From the get-go, we were doing something that had never been done before, that set the tone for a new wave of television," Anderson says. "It was a huge risk for Fox to take us on, because at the time we were unlike anything that came before."
She is also grateful for her own personal growth, using the occasion to compare herself to her co-star. "David looks at the whole picture," she says. "He sees himself and everything, and how it affects him. He can foresee where things are going. As for me, I show up and just assume that everything is OK. Part of that was because of my exhaustion level moving between getting married, having a child, getting divorced. I didn't have the time or energy to think about what was happening on the show. Only now have I finally found a balance in my life. Some peace has been made."
Still, Anderson insists she will not come back next season, even though she had earlier agreed to return if Fox brought the show back next year. "As far as I'm concerned, it's time," she says. "I know it's lucrative for Fox, but we have movies we can do," referring to last summer's "X-Files" movie that Fox hopes will become a valuable film franchise. "It would be great to come back every few years.
"I want to focus on films, maybe do a play in London. I don't know if I will ever do a series again. I'm really not interested in that. I just want to feel the gratitude for what is happening now."
Transcript provided by Alfred Tow and appears courtesy of Jane Magazine.