Film Scouts Interviews

Gillian Anderson on "The X Files"

by Melissa J. Perenson

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Emmy award-winning actress Gillian Anderson, 29, stars as Special Agent Dana Scully, a doctor of forensic medicine who acts as the pragmatic and scientifically grounded skeptic half of The X-Files' dynamic duo. Anderson first gained recognition as a New York theater actress prior to moving to Hollywood. The X-Files has proven her breakout role, for which she's also won two Screen Actors Guild awards and a Golden Globe award. Look for Anderson to appear in this fall's tender Peter Chelsom film, The Mighty.

Q: What's the difference for you between making the movie vs. the show?

GA: The thing that stands out the most is the amount of time that it took [to shoot]. In the series, we're used to doing about seven to nine pages a day. And in the film we did, I think, an average of about two. And that's a big, big difference. Especially where dialogue is concerned. Also, the amount of hours. I think we generally did about 12 hours a day on the movie, whereas we generally do about 16 on the series. But it takes a lot longer to set up shots on the movie than it does on the series. So the breaks in between are longer and I had more time with my daughter. I felt like I was on vacation, even though I was shooting a movie, to tell the truth.

Q: Is the truth as we see it in the film anything like what you thought it would be?

GA: I have never envisioned it. I've just found that it's better if I don't think that way, and basically just show up for work and do what's right in front of me. Because things change and I like to not have any expectations.

Q: What are your thoughts about Mulder and Scully's newfound level of intimacy?

GA: Well, one thing that I was very pleasantly struck by was the love story within the film. Which, to me, just seems so strong, and sometimes is even more strong than it is in the series. It really had a beginning and a middle and an end , [before] leading somewhere else. I thought [the intimacy] really adds a wonderful element to the film, especially in that it's an action/adventure film. And that's something you don't really see very often.

Q: Although Scully is central to the film, the story seems to revolve more around Mulder.

GA: Actually, on paper and in the original script, Scully did not show up that much because of the lack of interaction between the two of them. And in the film, it ended up being Mulder's quest in a sense. Somehow, she seems more present in the film than she did in the script. I'm not sure how that ended up happening, because I'm not actually on camera all that much. But I think because of the fact that people are talking about Scully when I'm not on camera makes you think that she is.

Q: Did you and David want to take more liberties with the characters since it was a movie?

GA: No. See, it's tricky, because we don't really know where ultimately it's going to end up leading back into the series, so we had to stay within a certain structure in order to make it make sense. And always, the scripts end up informing us how to be. It gets somewhat specific how to be in certain situations.

Q: What is your stance on Mulder and Scully's relationship?

GA: From the beginning I've thought that there's just no room in the show for us to be romantically involved. There's just no time, and it would have to be addressed at some point. Also, I think it would ruin the show. I don't think people would be as interested in it anymore if we actually consummated the relationship, because half of the attraction is in the tension that it's not consummated.

Q: The hallway scene was a wonderful moment in the film.

GA: It was a wonderful moment in the film, but if we keep having those, if we did actually end up getting down and dirty on the floor, then it's done. Then what happens? Then the next time we touch hands it's not going to have the same effect.

Q: Can Scully maintain her skepticism now that she's seen what she's seen in the film?

GA: It seems like throughout the season there have been very important moments where she has seen about all she can possibly see and still maintain any modicum of skepticism, and that happens once again in the film. I know that from the beginning it's been important for Chris to maintain some kind of a balance between the two of them in that way, in order to have an interesting way for [Mulder and Scully] to work off each other. And I'm sure he will either find a way to make it work still or he'll go a different route. I don't know what he's planning.

Q: Do you have any preference as to what happens?

GA: If it's possible, I'd rather be less skeptical, but still be able to maintain the relationship with Mulder where we can play off each other. It just seems that I'm open minded about some things, but then I'll see a bug that flies with no wings and it's like, 'how could that possibly be?' It's a little inconsistent.

Q: What were you early thoughts when you first came on the show?

GA: I didn't even really think too much about the fact that it was about aliens. I was intrigued by that aspect of it, but I was even more intrigued by the relationship between Mulder and Scully and how intelligent this woman was--and how she would stand up in the face of his intelligence and feel comfortable with stating her beliefs. I was really impressed by that. As soon as we started the series it became very clear what the show was really about and what I was being called on to do. It's always had an element of fun for me and an element of enjoyment and adventure.

Q: Why do you think The X-Files has been so phenomenally successful?

GA: I think it's a mixture of all the elements of [the show]. And I think that if one of the elements was taken out or lessened in quality in any way, the show as a whole would suffer. I think that it's from the writing to the cinematography to the camera work to the co-stars to the other character actors that we work with. I'm proud to be involved in something that has such high production values and is so intelligent.

Q: How has playing Scully influenced how you tackle other characters?

GA: In the movie that I'm presently doing called Dancing About Architecture, the character is probably the closest to Scully than anything I have done. And she's not like Scully at all, but just in the sense that she's not a caricature, which I am more familiar with doing. The difficulty is in making her not like Scully, even though there are some similarities. So I find that no matter how I respond to something as the character, if it's even remotely like Scully, I freeze. It's even difficult to make the choice to allow myself to be myself--which is a part of Scully--and allow that to come through if it has to, or to get incredibly, incredibly nitpicky about every single second and moment and beat within the character's life. I'd rather be more spontaneous than that. So it's been kind of an experiment in a way, and we'll see.

Q: Are you going to miss Vancouver?

GA: I am, yes. I still have my house up there, so we'll be going back periodically. It was a wonderful place for us to spend the first couple of years, and they were very good to us. I couldn't have wished for a better experience.

Q: Are you flattered or alarmed by the number of fans you have thanks to the show?

GA: The only time I ever think about it is when it's brought up to me. What impacts me the most, what gives me cause to think about it is that so many young women see Scully as a role model. People have said specifically that her strength and her drive and her passion have helped them get through difficult times in their lives.

Q: Are you on the Internet at all?

GA: I would like to be, but I'm not. I don't have the time to be. If I log onto the Internet at some point, it will be to learn another foreign language or to look up a butterfly. It's not going to read my fan pages.

Q: Do you look forward to the opportunity to do another X-Files movie?

GA: If it's successful, I hope we do another one. Hopefully, we're not going to be doing the series for the next ten years, and doing the movies on the hiatus. Hopefully, the film will be so successful that the series will trail off, and we'll just be doing the movies once in a while.

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