December 14, 1996
Hello, this is Jennifer Eno. Thank you for joining us for the Pop Talk interview in Talk.com. Today we'll be talking with actress Gillian Anderson, who plays special agent Dana Scully for the The X-files, which is one of if not the favorite TV show of the Wired Generation. For the next half hour we'll be talking to Gillian about her character Dana Scully, The X-files show, and her recent projects away from the The X-files, including Microsoft's new game Hellbender. We'll be taking questions from the chat room so please send any questions you have for Gillian to the chat moderator.
JENNIFER: Welcome Gillian. Now in its fourth season, The X-files is more popular than ever. People across the globe love tuning in each week to follow Scully and Mulder's exploits into the unknown. What keeps viewers so addicted?
GILLIAN: I think honestly it's mixture of things. On the whole, the show looks so cool. And we spend so much time and so much money to make it look so eerie and mysterious and cool. I think the audience really responds to that, as well as the story lines from week to week. You can tune in and not know what to expect whatsoever from one week to the next. It's very intriguing for audience members.
JENNIFER: Are you addicted? When you get a script are you dying to see what's going to happen next to Scully?
GILLIAN: I am, but you know most of the time when we get scripts we are still working on a previous episode so that's where the focus is. But it is exciting. Sometimes we get scripts that we hear a lot of buzz about from people who have read them or crew members who have already started work on the scripts, and we get excited about the possibilities of the next ones coming up or what kind of work it will entail for David and me on different levels. It's neat. It's a neat process to involved in.
JENNIFER: Do you think the show has changed with its increased popularity? Do you sense different kinds of plot threads in the stories?
GILLIAN: I think the past few years we continue to get better and better, the show has gotten tighter and tighter. I think that the directors and the writers and everyone involved is always trying to push the limits and not do things we've done before, and so in that respect we're constantly pushing the envelope, so that's fun and exciting. It allows for a natural change to take place.
JENNIFER: The production of the show has changed as a result.
GILLIAN: Yeah, I think so. The fourth season we've had some really great episodes. The third season was one of our best too. We're on kind of on a roll and we're getting better all the time. We're finally really comfortable with being a part of this huge animal and everybody is just doing their best and it's working.
JENNIFER: Right. I was also wondering how you have all dealt withthe mega-fame aspect. How did you feel when this show really started taking off?
GILLIAN: It felt to me as if it went slowly. Although in retrospect it didn't go slowly at all. Although it gave us all an opportunity to really find our place before it really exploded in any way. When it did really start to happen it felt like a next natural step. It wasn't too jarring to everyone.
JENNIFER: What about becoming a cult heroine and a sex symbol? Did you expect that to come with the territory? Or does it freak you out?
GILLIAN: No, I didn't expect it. It hasn't really freaked me out. It's a separate entity from who I am. So having it in that reality, in that perspective, I am who I am. When I go home at night, I am with my daughter. There's this whole other being who's perceived of in a certain way, and to keep myself separate from that entity is, I think, essential in survival in this particular type of situation.
JENNIFER: What about Scully? How has Scully changed over the past couple of years?
GILLIAN: I think she's gotten stronger. There's been a natural development and focus of her independence in the show. The writers are primarily responsible for that. I also feel as I have gotten used to the character and grown up with the character and matured in my own life and my own way that it's benefited her areas of strength. This season in particular, from not anything that has happened on purpose, just from the flow of the scripts and the work that I have been doing, she seems has her becoming more and more strong-willed and independent from Mulder all the time.
JENNIFER: Scully and Mulder definitely have an unusual male-female relationship for television. How would you describe her relationship with Mulder?
GILLIAN: I think it's incredibly exciting and alive, constantly changing. But at the same time there are many aspects that are the same, that kind of set out a form of safety for them because they have so much respect for each other, psychological respect and physical respect. And they trust each other immensely most of the time. And so there's a safety net in that, and for the audience, too, to rely on their union in that way. It's interesting to see how they shift and how they relate to each other from one episode to another.
JENNIFER: I think last year's Australian Rolling Stone, the one that ran a cover of Scully and Mulder in bed, sparked a lot of speculation that the characters would get together, and there's been a lot of talk among the fans. But are the writers still holding steadfast that it's definitely a bad idea for Scully and Mulder to get together?
GILLIAN: As far as I know.
JENNIFER:> Do you think Scully is a good female role model?
GILLIAN: Absolutely. That's what's one of the most amazing and beneficial aspects of the show and the character. She's so honest and so strong and independent and strong willed and intelligent. Young women around the world have attached themselves and been attracted to that, to those aspects of her personality. They're all positive. They're all very strong and beneficial personality traits to have as a woman in this world. That young women are responding to that and trying to behave or act in the same way could only be a positive move forward.
JENNIFER: What do you think Scully communicates about what a woman can be today?
GILLIAN: I think she's respected in her field, respected by the men that she works with. She's heard. When she has something to say she's heard and people respond to her in that way. And I think its very important for women to see that, to see that they can be strong in themselves, and speak up about what they believe in and their opinions about something or what they are knowledgeable about in their field of work. And that it is possible to be considered an equal in a work and in a life environment. That's possible and attainable and something to work toward.
JENNIFER: As far as other projects go, you recently finished working on a game called Hellbender for Microsoft. What was your role in that?
GILLIAN: I played the voice of Eve, which is the Enhanced Virtual Entity and the voice guides the Hellbender players through the course of the game. As the Hellbender pilots battle through the game, Eve is the player's companion and tells the player the status of their craft and what they've destroyed and when they've completed a mission or an objective. She's like a co-pilot, I guess in a way, a vocal co-pilot.
JENNIFER: Why do you think Microsoft was interested in you for the voice?
GILLIAN: I think there's some thing, there's some great sci-fi synergy between The X-files and Hellbender in a way. It deals with technology and a very eerie environment. I think they approached me because their goal was to create a compelling and wonderful sci-fi environment, and my connection to The X-files in that way achieves that balance. They thought my voice could enhance the game. There were many other people and talent on board to write the story lines and design the sci-fi worlds in Hellbender. It's a great world to enter into as a player if you like that kind of game.
JENNIFER: There seems to be a definite link between Wired culture and The X-files. A lot of people see Mulder and Scully as heroes of the end of the millennium working with science and technology. What do you think that says about today's times?
GILLIAN: I think it's kind of scary as a human being to be alive at this time but at the same time very exciting. We are moving forward so dramatically in so many ways in the world of technology. From one moment to the next you don't know whether, for example, if CDs are going to be around much longer. They have a small version of the CD you can record on. Little things like that. Things are changing constantly. I think the world, and myself included, don't necessarily understand the changes that go into enhancing our world in that way. So that's kind of frightening but I think there's something inherently exciting about not knowing which direction we're going to go, or how far we're going to go, or are we going to self-destruct. We're definitely moving forward very quickly. The show kind of hits on that, especially with the conspiracy plot lines. And we also do a lot of stuff with computers and there's a lot of gadgets always, and there's a lot of things that are out of our control, and I think that speaks to the fear that a lot of people have in this society about where we're going and what's going to happen to us as a result of this new technology.
JENNIFER: The X-files has a huge following on the Internet, I believe it even surpasses the Star Trek following at this point with countless number of fan - created X-files homepages and news group discussions related to the show. Are you familiar with any on-line groups like the "Gillian Anderson Estrogen Brigade?"
GILLIAN: Yes I am familiar with them and have been handed at times different copies from interesting stuff that's been downloaded from the Internet. It's interesting, but I don't log on myself. I try to separate myself from that world as much as possible. I have trouble with computers, and because of the lack of time I have I'm afraid of sitting in front of one, that I'll get sucked up and three hours will go by and I haven't worked on my script or something. There may be a time in the future when I'll be able to play "Mist" for hours at a time, but that's not now.
JENNIFER: That's kind of ironic, given the techno-prowess that Scully.
GILLIAN: I know. Scully types like a maniac and I type with two fingers. (Laughter)
JENNIFER: On that note, we have some questions from the Internet audience. "Nim" wants to know how acting for the television compares to the stage, and which do you like more?
GILLIAN: I don't know which I like more - they are two very, very different media. I don't necessarily have a preference. It was definitely difficult at first to make the transition from theater to television. In theater you have the time, the luxury to explore a new character and tons of rehearsal time to really dig into the motivations behind the characters. It was hard to make the transition from that to having to make quick choices. You know we get a script and you usually have to go over it the night before we're going to shoot with the dialog and have to make very quick acting choices as to how the character will respond to these new situations. On the one hand there's the benefit of having lived with a character for such a long time - you automatically start responding as she would. It was a hard transition to go from having the luxury of time to having to make quick decisions.
JENNIFER: Another question, from "Spooky Natasha," ... (laugh) I know, some of these names are great.... Did you always want to be an actress?
GILLIAN: No, I don't think so. I think that there was some part that knew I might, but in the front of my brain I was thinking about other areas of occupation, like marine biology and archeology...I was fascinated by the concept of going on digs, in the far reaches of the universe, or not the universe, but the earth. The progression to acting was not something that was planned, but I wasn't shocked into it - it was something I was comfortable with.
JENNIFER: When you were working in the theater in New York you used to write plays, right?
GILLIAN: Well, no.
JENNIFER: You didn't? You've thought about writing an X-files episode, though.
GILLIAN: I thought of a few story lines, although I'm not exactly writing them myself, that's not something I'd wish on my worst enemy. I have thought of a few story lines and shared one of them in particular with Chris. I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen with that information. It was fun to come up with something. We'll see where it goes.
JENNIFER: What are some of your favorite plot threads you'd like to follow up on? Or some favorite episodes?
GILLIAN: That's a secret. (Laugh) That's a secret.
JENNIFER: The story lines and the subplots and the methodologies running through The X-files are not only intriguing but very intelligent. The best part of it for me is that it doesn't talk down to the audience at all. Do the writers have science consultants?
GILLIAN: Yes, I think they have consultants from every walk of life. There are a couple of people in particular who do a great deal of research for each episode and there are people on hand who are specialists in fields who can give us medical and scientific factual information when needed.
JENNIFER: What plots have sort of opened your eyes to telecommunications and medicine? What have you found most intriguing?
GILLIAN: Little bits here and there in shows. When Scully spurts out information, like recently there was an episode where I was talking about pica, which is a disorder or some kind of deficiency in the body where somebody gets cravings for wood and metal. Little stuff like that is interesting information that you can use when you're playing Scrabble. I have a tendency not to hold on to a great deal of the information I put out. In general I think my brain goes into some kind of overload.
JENNIFER: Okay, another question from the audience, "Geebee" wants to know how long do you plan to stay on the show?
GILLIAN: For as long as it runs. I hope we have a long, healthy run. At the same time I hope we don't go beyond a point when it is time to end, or a good environment for closure. But I'm dedicated to Chris and to the show.
JENNIFER: Does it still feel really fresh to everyone?
GILLIAN: Yes, most of the time it does. You know when you get new episodes all the time and things are constantly shifting or there are things to look forward to, then it feels fresh. Sometimes in the middle of winter when you've been shooting outside for hours and hours and your body's exhausted you wish you could be doing something else. But then that passes and something else shifts and you recommit yourself and it all balances out.
JENNIFER: There was talk of an X-files feature length film. Has anything moved on that? Is it still in the works?
GILLIAN: I think it's still in the works. I don't know when it's going to take place and I think it's something we can all look forward to. I don't know when that would be.... I have a funny story: I was at a party the other night and someone walked up to me and said, "Hey! I bought this computer game today and I was playing, and I was thinking 'Who is this voice?' and I looked on the box and it was you!" It was so wild because I had just received my own copy of Hellbender that day and it was so wild to meet somebody I'd never met before who heard my name through a video game! It's pretty cool.
JENNIFER: What about future projects for yourself? Are you pursuing anything?
GILLIAN: I'm looking at some stuff. I have a period of time between the fifth and sixth season. It's not a great deal of time but I'm pursuing some projects. Trying to find something that might fit into that time that I would be interested in working on.
JENNIFER: Do you see yourself going back to theater, doing a stint there?
GILLIAN: Definitely. But not while the show is running. I definitely want to go back and do theater.
JENNIFER: Well, thank you, Gillian.
GILLIAN: Well, thank you.
JENNIFER: With that I think we'll be wrapping it up. This is Jennifer Eno for Talk.com and it's been wonderful.
GILLIAN: Thank you very much I had fun.
Transcript appears courtesy of Club Wired/Pop Talk.