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Gillian Anderson on Her X-Files Return

Gillian Anderson-

Courtesy of Fox.

It’s been 14 years since the finale of The X-Files, the network TV show that presaged the HBO revolution, which presaged, well, just about everything good on TV today. Now agents Mulder and Scully are returning to Fox for “a six-episode event,” premiering January 24. Its star Gillian Anderson takes time to reminisce. 

You’re returning to the stage in March to play Blanche DuBois in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Imagine an episode of The X-Files by Tennessee Williams.  I don’t think there’s enough drinking and on-this-planet historical drama to warrant his direction. 

Speaking of drama, you brought a very restrained quality to Scully. You’re not an actress prone to histrionics.  Until Blanche [Laughs]. I don’t know if it’s a style as much as the way I convey emotions. I’m a quiet person. 

The X-Files was one of the most influential dramas ever. Did you have any qualms about revisiting it?  A couple of people have said, “But you fought so hard to get away from her! Isn’t this going to drag you back?” I don’t see it that way. I see it as a celebration of what we created then and a farewell, giving that fan base another taste of what they claim they’ve been missing. 

Did playing Scully for more than 200 episodes make you a better actor?  I started off so green and crap. I think both David Duchovny (below left) and I at times have come at this with a certain degree of prejudice. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s in the realm of science fiction, or because we had other ideas of what is worthy and meaningful to us, but the work I’ve done since feels more in line with what I’d always wanted to do. I don’t think of that period as being a time of acting. It almost feels like my time of growing up.

Your roles as icy Stella Gibson in The Fall and Lady Dedlock in Bleak House reflect strong women who overcome major obstacles. Was that a conscious choice?  Roles without complexity just don’t interest me. I don’t see Scully as being particularly complex, yet she continues to represent such an iconic female presence in TV. She’s outspoken, powerful — attributes common to women, but that were uncommon in women characters at the time. At the same time, she was just one of us. I don’t think Stella is. I don’t know how normal she is.

I wouldn’t want to have a drink with her. She’d be terrifying.  On the other hand, Scully might be a little boring — it might be a half-hour drink. Whereas Stella could drink you under the table. 

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