June 1996 (Issue #22)
I Shot Scully! - Under the Covers with FHM
By Gary Leigh & Paul Simpson
FHM Magazine achieved a considerable coup with its April issue - not only a probing interview with X-Files star Gillian Anderson but a revealing set of photos which will not be forgotten by many an X-phile for a long, long time. The man responsible for FHM's fastest-selling issue ever is Features Editor, ANTHONY NOGUERA, who not only tirelessly set up the shoot but got to know Ms. Anderson very well, as he recounted to Gary Leigh and Paul Simpson on 24 April...
Anthony Noguera always wanted to be a writer. “I didn't think I was good enough to be a scriptwriter, “ he says, and so he became a journalist in the music press after gaining his English degree at University. He interviewed over 250 celebrities ( “I lost track after that “) for various music magazines before taking on the post of Features Editor at the established men's glossy, FHM, which he describes as a “fun magazine - there's lots of interesting articles but it doesn't take itself too seriously. Some men's magazines like to assume the reader drives a Land Rover, wears a Barbour jacket and has two children at private school. Our reader hasn't, he's just a normal guy. FHM is your mate down the pub. Our agenda is to be entertaining, useful and sexy. “
The magazine's policy towards celebrities is to treat them as human beings, not icons. “We don't worship our stars; we have to bring them down to our level. “ Anthony feels that part of the secret of being a good interviewer is making the interviewee “feel at ease very quickly, and make them feel you're not trying to catch them. They're worried they're going to admit something which they didn't want made known, so my job is not to ruin someone's career, or hurt someone close to them accidentally. I want them to forget the tape recorder's there and have a conversation with them. Part of my job, when I transcribe the tape later, is to recognize that they may have slipped, and act accordingly, although on the other hand they are professional and know they are being interviewed. “ He is emphatic that they are not there to pander to the celebrity: “We don't work for the celebrity, we're a magazine. If someone demanded approval, we simply wouldn't interview them. If we did that, we might as well reprint a press release. FHM is bigger than the celebrity: people buy the magazine because they like it. Okay, there are the floating readers who will buy something like Gillian Anderson, because they buy everything with Gillian Anderson, but we wouldn't be selling what we sell every month if we were doing something wrong. “....
....Although his favorite interview is always the one he currently is working on, not surprisingly he quotes meeting Gillian Anderson as his past favorite. He'd been a fan of The X-Files “since Day One. It was really a case of, Could we make The X-Files fit into FHM? We didn't know if we would just end up doing a set report, which we never do - you can read that anywhere. For us to cover a celebrity, they have to do something really different and fit in with what we do. We didn't want to shoot David and Gillian looking like private investigators or FBI agents - that's been on TV Guide and GQ magazines. They're really nice pictures, but they're not newsmaking. “
The final decision to interview Gillian was taken partly because David Duchovny was getting all the press. “He was getting the covers, she was getting nothing, being sidelined away. “ Gillian Anderson was a commercial risk for FHM: “She hadn't been shot in an interesting way before, only as Agent Scully. She isn't Scully. Our readers want to know what she's like - 'If you went down to the pub with Gillian Anderson, this is what she would be like.' “
The setting up of the shoot took several months, and Anthony is particularly grateful to Melanie Adorian, the Chief Publicist at Sky TV. “She's one of the most fantastic people to work with, one of the best publicists. She had a very clear idea what we wanted and what she wanted right from Day One. We wanted, above all else, to show that Gillian Anderson was sexy. Melanie made the journey such an easy one. She was into it 100%. She wanted it to work. I wish I could tell you what a nightmare it was, “ he laughs, “but it wasn't. She was banging away all the time. “ FHM's approach was simple: “'We think Gillian Anderson is sexy, and we think she can be interesting. We've never read anything interesting about her. All the interviews have been fairly bland and they've treated her like she was Dana Scully. We want to know what she is like as a person; we really don't want to talk about Scully of The X-Files to any great degree.' And I think that's what attracted Gillian. No-one had approached her before as a person. “ Gillian's management were aware of FHM, and it was well known to the people on the X-Files set who approached Anthony during his visit to discuss earlier issues. “She liked it - she thought it was fun and wished more American magazines could be like it. “ Since the magazine came out, Fox have been “inundated - they can't keep up with all the offers she's had. People have suddenly realized that she is interesting, not just as a member of the X-Files cast. She has become a bona fide celebrity, and all we did for her was help open that door. “
Was Gillian Anderson as natural in the interview as she came across? “She had never been asked some of the questions that FHM asked her, “ Anthony explains. “Simple as that. Most celebrities haven't. Celebrities are bored to death with doing interviews. They're asked the same crap questions day in, day out. They don't want to talk any more about their new movie, but people are scared to ask them 'normal' questions - what they believe in, what makes them laugh, what turns them on. We make it very clear to people beforehand that they are going to be treated like a person, and many find that quite attractive. It's often not them who are the problem, it's the management, the people round them who stop you asking those questions. Strip that away and, unless they're completely mad, you're going to have a pretty decent conversation with them and find out whatever you want to know.
“Gillian was very nervous. I think she found it strange we wanted to talk to her. You see, they are cocooned from the outside world: they work five or six days a week, in in the morning and they can be there till four o'clock the next morning. They go home and have one or two days with their loved ones, and then they're back. It's like that for eight or nine months, and they have no idea what's going on or how big the series really is. “
ANTHONY EVIDENTLY ENJOYED HIS VISIT TO THE X-FILES SET. “I flew to Vancouver and met Dorrie Glaser, who is the main publicist for SKY in the States and the go-between with FOX. It sounds corny but when I came back I thought I had never been treated so well on a trip. The people on set made it a dream job: everyone on the show loves it, they care about it very much, and they don't want you to be treated badly. They want you to share in it. Everybody you meet is glad to see you, there's no kind of snobby atmosphere.
“The X-Files set has three or four permanent sets inside this great hanger, and it looks like people doing a school play: bits of cardboard, bits of set. One moment you're in a very realistic emergency ward in a hospital, the next you're in a corridor. Then you walk into Mulder's apartment and its just one room. There's no other room off it, and there's no bed. The people on the show know the fans are picking up on these things, and instead of solving them, they like to tease. Every inch of the inside of the apartment is filled with polaroids of these most grotesque, disgusting shots: autopsies, car accidents, alien pictures, the kind of stuff you'd imagine Mulder would collect. You walk out of there and it's a street scene, which is so realist but it's just a painting.
“I had a whole day there - I saw Gillian Anderson running into a wall more times than I care to remember. Talk about being a trouper! The scene I saw filmed (from Pusher) had this guy with brain cancer who's developed extra sensory powers playing Russian Roulette with Mulder and Scully, forcing Mulder to shoot Scully. It was very draining for the two leads. Gillian and David were very serious that day. “
“When they are ready for filming a klaxon goes off round the whole studio, then a bell, and that means silence. David's dog, Blue, lies down, and doesn't move till she hears two bells. She's not been trained to do it but she's been brought up on the set. She runs up and down the corridor, getting in people's way... but as soon as that klaxon goes, she's motionless. “
Anthony didn't find any egos getting in the way. “People are very careful around David, “ he adds. “David. from what I gather, is quit a serious individual: you are warned not to get in David's way. I met him and he struck me as a pleasant guy; I spoke to him for maybe one minute. He is very quiet and very intelligent. He doesn't give off an air of approachability. I think he was curious as well: if a stranger is watching you when you work, you feel uncomfortable. “
Afterwards, Anthony toured the studio where different episodes were in various stages of production, such as the filming of special effects work on Piper Maru and Apocrypha. He also gathered that the movie, if and when it happened, would be the final X-File. “I think it would be fair to say that neither of the leads want to be trapped into doing the show for much longer than five years. It's stopping them from doing anything else. They also want to keep the show fresh. At the time I spoke to Gillian and her manager the movie will come right at the end, because the movie on its own won't make any sense without the series, or coming in the middle. As far as I know they weren't contractually obliged to do a movie so they would have to be tied into it. They wouldn't do a series of X-Files movies with these characters. “
Talk of other X-Files regulars led to Anthony revealing an upcoming scene with Krycek. “There's this great big silo with an alien craft in it, and Krycek gets in there. He doesn't know what's there and an EBE comes out of the ship. You see Krycek banging on the door, screaming to be let out... “
THE FHM COVER SHOT SAW GILLIAN ANDERSON AS NEVER before. “We did five or six different set-ups with Gillian, and the one where she was in the lingerie is the only one that is 'scantily-dressed'. More people like the shot of her in the blue catsuit. She was actually forty feet up on a ledge for that with everybody down below petrified! The lingerie shot is just one of a whole set of pictures: there's a section of the shoot we didn't use at all, where she's wearing a man's shirt and nothing else. You can't see anything of her body, but she just looks fantastic. We could have done a whole magazine with the photographs we've got and the whole interview: I wrote about 11,000 words which went down to 3,000. It would be cheap to cash in on ourselves. “ Anthony explained that due to contractual reasons the pictures will be unavailable for other publications to use for some time, but he did reveal that some of the unpublished shots are on SKY and FHM's sites on the Internet together with unused sections of the interview.
Anthony felt it would be a shame if anyone got the wrong impression of Gillian Anderson from the interview. Although there was a section regarding swearing, this was in direct response to his question to her about her favorite swearword: “She was one of the most down to earth, approachable people that I've had to interview. She's a very famous woman, but she is a woman. She's not Scully. Scully doesn't swear, Gillian Anderson does, not a great deal - she had a very tough upbringing. There are things that people aren't going to like. She wasn't what the studio wanted - they wanted a leggy blonde type. Gillian felt so guilty when she found out she was pregnant that I think she felt she had betrayed them. They did try Mulder's ex-girlfriend in an episode [Fire] and I gather the idea was to see what the chemistry was like between that actress and David Duchovny, but there was none at all. “
What was Gillian's reaction to the printed article? “I think she was possibly initially a little surprised. She had never seen herself in this way, and to be a cover star probably took her back a bit. I know she loved it, and the reaction has been brilliant. It's a shame that some of those people who take The X-Files a little too seriously don't like it, but, out of hundreds of letters and e-mails, there have only been two who didn't like it. We had more people trying to get back copies than any other and we had probably printed 10% more than our normal print run, although we would have done this anyway as the magazine has been selling out every month. We have had no returns. Literally, we have had people ringing up from Hawaii after issues. “
What were the negative comments? “There was one person who posted on the Net who thought I had either made up part of the interview or that Gillian was a bimbo, simply because of one section on the X-Files site on SKY TV about Gillian's dog farting. Because Gillian had said 'Pooh Pooh!' to her dog she was a bimbo, an airhead. You can't please everybody! You'd have to be pretty anal not to like it. People just don't want her to have a life. “
“I can't stress enough that Gillian was great. “ Anthony concluded. “People should accept that she's just like you or me - she's not Scully. “
Transcript provided by Alfred and appears courtesy of Dreamwatch.