July 2002 (Special Issue #20)
by Ray Rogers
She's no longer Scully, and can't quite believe it, as the actress tells Ray Rogers.
Nine years ago, Gillian Anderson was a young unknown who stumbled into stardom when she won the role of Dana Scully on The X-Files, and spent the earliest days of the show in the shadow of her co-star, David Duchovny. But by the show's eighth and ninth seasons, Anderson was carrying much of the load on her petite shoulders.
And now itís over, and sheís not quite sure how she feels about that. "Donít get me started. I donít know why, but I woke up feeling so emotional today. Itís so surreal. I swear to God, itís only starting to hit me over the past couple of days. And it just feels like nine years was so short. You know what I mean? While we were in the middle of it I felt that it would never end, and now itís just all of a sudden... it just feels unfathomable. And thatís all I have to say."
It sounds as if she might be having second thoughts about Chris Carterís decision, but ultimately she realizes this is the moment to call it a day. "No, no, no. I think ultimately that itís good to finish now. Thereís a time for everything to end, and I think this is the right time. I think itís good for everybody and I think that everybody has put in such a huge effort over the years in really trying to keep the quality of the show up and to continue with its integrity as much as it can. Now everybody in their own way is excited about moving on to other things. Both things can co-exist. One can be sad and in the process of mourning and at the same time be excited and hopeful for the future and change."
Certainly sheís happy that she wonít have to see what the series would be like without her. "I donít think I would have known that until the very end, when I would have thought, ĎWell, wait a minute. This isnít right. This isnít right.í Iím very glad that the show is completely ending now because I have a feeling that even though I would have mourned to a certain degree in saying goodbye, there would have been something left undone. The crew would have been continuing and even though I was saying goodbye, it would not have been as clean. I feel like we have an opportunity now to really tie it up in a whole and constructive, finishing and completing way."
Asked what sheíll miss most about the show, Anderson comments, "Oh God, the whole thing, the whole thing of living and breathing it. I mean, there are certainly trees within that forest that I can individualize. Iíll miss [director] Kim Manners and Chris and David and the crew and just being on set." And the craziness of the fans, which started to get to her a little during the media frenzy of the seriesí peak, when she was consistently voted the sexiest woman on the planet? "I havenít been feeling the craziness of it lately. I think weíre pretty well protected from the craziness. It all just feels like thereís another entire entity out there thatís breathing with the same heartbeat as us and they support us, but I donít experience a lot of craziness. We donít get a lot of visitors to the set. Once in a while we do and people burst into tears and stuff, but the crazy period of time was earlier on and I didnít even realize it that, that was crazy until it stopped being crazy. Then I thought, ĎOh God, that was crazy.í"
"My last experience of that was in San Francisco last year. Somebody chased me down on the street and a woman, in the middle of the street, asked if she could have my autograph. I said 'Okay. I mean, she was screaming, really loud and excited. I said, 'Okay,' and she said, 'Do you have a pen?' I said, 'No, I don't have a pen. You're supposed to bring the pen.' She goes, 'Well,, you don't have to be rude about it,' and she walked away and called me a bitch. That happened a while ago, but it's one of those things that make you think, like 'what?" On-set, the biggest change to the show over the years has been the shift away from the Scully-Mulder team of the early days to the ensemble set-up of the later years, with Scully providing the center-point of a large cast including the likes of Doggett, Reyes, Skinner and the Lone Gunmen, to name only a few. "Well, it happened by necessity because of the fact that David was going to be leaving," she comments. "I think that for the first year he was gone the writers did a very good job of keeping him in the public consciousness even though he wasn't around. It was remarkable how if someone is talked about it feels as if they're present even though they're not. So they were very successful in doing that. The show certainly did start out as primarily about not just Mulder's quest, but about his character and his genius and his revelations, an it was Scully's job to kind of help solidify that in the questions she would answer. They created a whole, but it was 70/30 and then 50/50, and I'm not talking financially."
For Scully herself, the biggest development in her life was her pregnancy, which came six years after Gillian herself became a mother during the show's second season.
"That's interesting," the actress comments. "I don't know about this whole baby thing. It certainly adds a level of complication to the filming. I think that it's added an interesting storyline, but it's also complicated things, because how do you involve Scully in cases that they're investigating without the audience thinking, 'Well, where''s the baby and why isn't she home with the baby?' And of course, if she's with the baby the fans are going, 'We want her out in the field. We don't want her home with the baby. It's a very fine balance they have had to play." The actress's daughter Piper is seven now, and while she remains an only child, Scully's parenthood meant she had to get used to seeing her mother playing Mommy to another child, something which can lead to problems with real life siblings. "She thought it was quite funny, actually. She is at a stage right now where she gets it. She gets it for the first time and she can kind of go, 'Oh, that's what Mom does when she goes to work. Okay.' She gets the public aspect of it and the work aspect of it. It's interesting to watch her process and then awaken to that process."
That aspect of Piper's life is about to change though, as the actress has been adamant that she's finished with weekly TV. "I'm just done. I mean, please, it's been nine years. There are so many other things to do, so many other things not even in the business that I want to do and in the business in other ways. For a long while I imagine it'll have nothing to do with TV. Eventually, after I do some features, maybe if HBO asks me to direct something for them I might, but there are so many things that I want to do first." That includes a possible feature film debut as a write and director. "It's a book called Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rossner."
"Hopefully, I can start writing that over the summer. It's a beautiful little book. I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to get to it. I'm looking for different film projects for the summer then I'm going to do a play in London in October. I'm signed on to do a new play by Michael Weller in the West End in London. It's called What the Night Is For - and then maybe the X Files feature will be done after that. Or I might take a little bit of time off."
Transcript appears courtesy Xposť Magazine.