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INT: Gillian Anderson

Apr. 21, 2008by: Mike Sampson

Read Part 1 and 2 of this set visit!

I'd just spent a few hours listening Gillian Anderson film a scene on THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE. Sadly all I could hear were loud footsteps and a slammed door (which Anderson would later say was just an accident). I thought for sure I could get her to spill the beans. While slightly more forthcoming than her counterparts, Anderson stopped short of telling me exactly what she was doing back there. (Lucky for you, I later was able to sneak a peek at that very scene - more on that to come at a later day...)

Gillian Anderson

Anderson looked as beautiful as ever, years after she was one of the most adored women in the land of fanboys. She was also surprisingly warm, funny and vulgar (she dropped more f*cks than the rest of the cast and crew combined). Here's what she had to say about returning to play Dana Scully after all these years...

Why come back to this after all this time?

Well, I did. And I did. But I think that, ah, Ive always made it clear no matter whats been rumored at various times in the press that were we to come together or were somebody to get it together in order to do a film, I would be happy and willing and hopefully able to participate. And, ah, I just assumed it would be a matter of time. There were a few times there when it looked like it might not happen. But you know there were many times there where I thought even when people were saying it was going to happen I didnt believe it was going to happen. But I was always on board. No matter what else I was deciding to do in my life at the time. So

Whats it like to come back to THE X-FILES? Is it familiar or does it seem strange to be stepping back into these shoes that you left so many years ago?

You know, I was really, um, not so much cocky about it but I was really confident that it would be really easy. You know, on the first day. And I, I wasnt afraid at all. I usually am terrified before I start something for the first couple of days, I get really -- and it sucked! It was horrible. I had a really, really hard first couple of days. I think part of that was that Ive spent such a long time trying not to do anything that even remotely resembled Scully. Or at least you know while Im working. If theres something, a gesture or a way, whether Im successful or not I dont know. But at least in my mind Im thinking that Ive been pushing it away for such a long time that while I was doing it to bring it back, my brain was going, no! No! This wasnt supposed to be happening. And also we happened to start on the worst possible scene that we could have started with, it was probably one of my most difficult days.

Which was?

It was a confrontation scene. So I hadnt been like normal, flat-line Scully. No! I didnt mean flat-line. No, I didnt mean that but [laughs] thats funny. I hadnt even been normal Scully before I had to be upset Scully.

Do you approach her differently? Has she changed a lot?

I dont think she has. Whats been important is not have her change a lot. You know that its been finding who she is again. You know, um, its, ah, I think its important to show somebody thats recognizable to the audience, whos used to that. But you know obviously theres a maturity thats taken place naturally. To hold that and to use that fact to inform how she might be, you know, in this present state.

Are there some references to what happened to her in the last five years?

Not really. I think that it becomes a given. Theres something thats said at one point about the choices that shes made. Which kinda covers that, yeah.

Whats behind your willingness to come back to this? Did you not want to be the one to say no and it fell apart?

No! You know I thought if it was enough of a period of time. It was a, a formidable experience for all of us. Even at the times, you know at various times I was very outspoken about the challenges of it, it was still something that I wouldnt have changed even at the time. Well, thats not true [laughs]. But in retrospect certainly I wouldnt have changed for the world. I was always aware that this was something unique and valuable and precious and doesnt happen very often. We were all incredibly lucky. And even despite my frustration at the hours and the exhaustion and all that kind of stuff, Ive always been grateful on some level. And the idea of us all coming back together again, um, has always been exciting. Even at the very end I knew it would be at least a couple of years. And I had to trust that even after two years Id think, this is a good idea.

You didnt want to be defined as Scully for your whole career?

Well, I think in certain ways sometimes I still am. When people, producers or whatever, you know, see my work, sometimes they go, Oh! She can act! You know [laughs], theres nothing much I can do about that. But all I can do is, one, you know, try and challenge myself. And also continue to try and challenge the minds of people who want to put me in a box.

What do you love about the character and why do you think she has resonated with the public?

well, I mean at the beginning, ah, ah, I guess in looking back, its almost like theres, as well all know, we all know the history of fox being dubious about hiring me and all that kind of stuff, and you know this redhead. You know its almost like Scullys always been, at the beginning she was like this little engine that could [laughs]. She was almost like feisty, fiery, intelligent, um, you know, buster of everything. And you know I think that that was strangely appealing to people. You know, it was just so different from what people had seen at the time. And the show was appealing to so many different kinds of people on so many different levels. And I dont know whether thats still appealing I mean in the old days theres been so much thats tried to emulate that, thats tried to copy that over time, well see with box-office if people care. These were great in the context of the series. But maybe next to Julianne Moore or whatever, its like eh Who knows?

She was a powerful woman, an intelligent woman.

Yeah, absolutely. I think that was primarily Chris [Carter]. He was determined at the beginning to keep Scully, ah, that way. There were times at the beginning, Id done so little work on camera before, Id only done theater, so I wanted to have the it was almost like at the beginning I was in a rehearsal for a play. But the second day I came to work was kind of different. So the second day I remember crying once when I was holding a gun. And I got this phone call [smiles and yells], "Scully wouldnt cry!" He didnt yell like that. But I really had to be molded and reminded, you know, just who this person is. And you know eventually I got it. And she developed and we all grew together.

Yeah, I think that was, that her resilience and her strength and her intelligence and her determination and everything was fortunately appealing for lots of young women. And you know I still get you know theres a whole new group, I dont know, I dont pay attention [a laugh] but apparently theres a whole new group of people who are discovering the show in reruns for the first time. Which is awesome. I dont really get letters but if anything comes through to me, its from grandmothers to four-year-olds. Which is really cool. And I think I over time as Im rambling now get some.. You know its easy talking to Chris or David to get very melancholy and wistful. And when I see stuff, when somebody sends something, you know, something that somebodys put together, moments of Mulder and Scully. We were watching something, actually I pulled something on YouTube, and, um, we kissed a lot in the series! I just remember how everyone was complaining how there was no and there were millions of kisses! I didnt remember kissing so much.

Is there some of that in the movie?

Like Im going to answer that question!

Is the intimate relationship between Mulder and Scully more important in this movie?

Um, oh, I dont know. I think thats whats remarkable and I find it more remarkable today after working with many other actors just what kind of, um, energy there is between [us]. You know it just kind of happened. Weird. And I dont know why this chemistry. Yeah. Its cool now, once Ive seen things in the past and gone, where the fuck did that come from? Its still there and of course thats going to be appealing to people. I now see what the appeal is. In the old days I was, yeah, so what? Yeah we get along. Theres chemistry. I was just using that word and now I see, you know, there really was and there still is and I think thatll always be there.

How much easier is it working David again now that youre not on top of each other for 16 hours a day?

Its great. It was great then too. Its all its just like a sibling relationship. You know. And I never had siblings. I had brothers and sisters that started when I was 13 so I was out of the house and didnt have that experience. There was always this natural love-hate hates too big a word but you know what I mean? There was always something. Whether it was us coming together or us keeping our distance, whatever it is its just a natural relationship. In the history, over a period of time. And I think that now weve grown up and were older and, um, I think were more appreciative of, um, the relationship period. And the unique experience that we had together. And we have an opportunity to continue that and foster it and, you know, weve always loved each other and were always going to be at battle sometimes. Its just, you know --

Scully started out as a skeptic and later became the believer to the new characters. Are you going back to the skeptic/believer relationship?

I think we have to. Thats part of one of the big premises of the film, the relationship and what makes the relationship work is this constant, you know, fight to be right in some way. I think no matter what film or what episode, you have to maintain an element of that. To make it interesting. This isnt a love story. It can be and there are elements of that in the intimacy of the relationship and everything. But its that cant be in the forefront. What is in the forefront in these two peoples minds and their passions and naturally theyre going to swing in the direction theyre built for. Thats going to cause tension between them and issues.

Were there things about being back on an X-Files set that took you back ten or 15 years ago?

Well, I was actually looking around on the set for more things than were there. At the beginning I was actually surprised that more things werent brought out of somebodys got to have them theyve got to be in some storage space Ive gotta surmise


How comfortable are you now with this role that you once sought to distance yourself from?

Um, it feels, um, I feel very fortunate. You know. I think my desire to distance myself you know I started when I was 24. I told them I was 27 to get hired. But I was 24 and at the time, yeah. Somebody sent me an interview I did on I dont know some cheesy TV station and I was so, just like so sure of myself. And the way that I was talking and everything. I think I had to surround myself with so many survival mechanisms to just survive. As a 24 year old to be thrown into that when all Id done was a little bit of theater really was intense. People would say to me, in interviews, what a whirlwind life youve had, and I didnt even have enough of a perspective to be able to stand back and go, yeah man! My response was like, yeah. and I think, but in a sense to a detriment at times because I assumed that I should be able to deal with stuff, I should be able to just press on and buckle up and you know go on. To a disservice to myself. I cant remember what your original question was [laughs]!

Survival and distancing yourself

So I was just in it for such a long time that when it ended you know there was a part of me that one, didnt want to see a set. I didnt know if I was going to go back and ever be on a set again. It just got really intense. I didnt do that much on my hiatuses. I did a couple of things but I didnt really go after that. Between exhaustion and being a mom and stuff. I just wanted to do something different, for fucks sake. So I needed, I just really needed that. But I found a place again of appropriate perspective and great appreciation and gratitude for just being allowed and invited to such an extraordinary experience.

Because Chris fought for you in casting?

Fuck yeah! Hes the godfather to my first-born child!

Is it a relief to get away from that complex mythology and keeping track of

Who kept track? Definitely the fans know so much more about the episodes than I did and what happened. I mean I practically forgot I had a baby when we started this which is really sad. Im exaggerating a little bit but its kind of true.

Whats the biggest difference between Scully now and the last time we saw her?

I think shes more relaxed. I think shes made some choices in her life that have allowed her to do what she most wants to do. Thats mellowed her a bit. She hasnt lost any of her determination and passion about things by any stretch. But shes mellowed a bit.

Having done and survived "The X-Files" would you ever do another TV series?

Ill never say never because things change so much over time. But it would have to be something pretty extraordinary to take that kind of time and move back to Los Angeles where its likely to be shot. But you know Im 40 this year and I hope to still be working when Im 60 so maybe as a 60-year-old Ill come back and do a comedy for NBC or something.

Do you get to do any fun stuff like that in this film?

Fortunately David gets to do all of that [laughs]. Im serious, I should feel really sorry for him. I do. Thereve been a few times when Ive come to the set to do some dialogue where hes been scaling cliffs and all that kind of stuff. So did I say too much?

Do you feel that X-FILES can go on now, as a movie series?

I dont know. I think thats something thats been discussed for a long time. Its something that we have all been interested in. If we are able to do one that is, um, that can appeal to a mass audience and its, ah, successful, in the right ways. Um, that perhaps we might do another one after this. But thats --



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