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June, 1997

Rookie Days
by Christina Martinez

Has Gillian Anderson finally received the attention she deserves? Christina Martinez explains why Scully's rookie days are over.

The world is finally seeing Gillian Anderson as the "leggy, busty" woman that the Fox Network thought she could never be. Rolling Stone Magazine and a recent X-Files episode, in which Scully gets a Millennium tattoo on her lower back, may be responsible for that. It's too bad they couldn't also convince the public that she's not a half bad actress, either.

After all, she's put in her twelve hour days. She's made her character's expositions. often cluttered with scientific jargon, seem as though they were her own. She persevered through every grueling shooting schedule throughout her pregnancy and up until her daughter's birth - and even then, she only missed one episode, (an alien abduction wasn't the only reason Scully was laid up in the hospital the following week.) Anderson's worked every bit as hard as Duchovny, sometimes more, playing catch-up for all the time lost to the punk lifestyle. And while Duchovny skips many interviews and all conventions, she's always in the front line with Chris Carter, promoting her show with vigor that would make even William Shatner proud. Yet, on pay day, she's thanked only half as much as Duchovny. Exactly half as much.

Does that mean she should do half as good a job?

There's no doubt that Anderson's entrance into the television community was less than spectacular. X-Files was only her second time in front of the camera, and she may not have made it past the network gurus if Duchovny hadn't been so belligerent with her during the audition scene, forcing her into a defensive stance. And so she didn't master the laboratory lingo from the get-go. You might even turn up the magnification on your microscope to scrutinize the effects of her pregnancy - damn that Gillian Anderson, abandoning Mulder, leaving him with nothing better to do than have a fling with a Hollywood vampire!

But the space/time continuum has yet to be exploited. That was then, this is now.

The vampires are gone, replaced with hallucination-provoking dyes, more eminent government conspirators, and the cancer-eater. This monster, Lester, had the munchies something fierce after his head was severed. And it wasn't Doritos he was after, either. It was cancer itself, in a bar dweller's lungs, in his mother's breasts, and - to everyone's surprise - in Scully's brain. Unlike the others, though, Scully was determined to keep her organ - cancer and all. This episode and that which followed demonstrated Carter's faith in Anderson. He wouldn't have initiated a complicated, emotionally exhausting inner journey for Scully if he didn't think Anderson could handle it. But he did, and in the very next episode she was called to bat.

And the crowd went wild. Some cheered her home run, delighted to delve into Scully's inner being (and her diary entries to - Mulder?!). Some welcomed the cancer story for another reason: it makes Scully's exit from the X-Files very possible.

This second group has only one sincere agenda for Scully's dismissal (or death), and that is to get as much of Duchovny in the one-hour episodes as possible. They can no longer say with any justification that Anderson's acting weakens the series. Her rookie days are over. She's established Scully as an integral, indispensable character of the X-Files.

Of course, Duchovny's value goes uncontested, as it should. In a medium that tends to sensationalize, to overdramatize, he's given real passion to Mulder in the subtlest, most effective, way. And, although he's also still technically a fledgling (despite ten features), he's had his share of Hollywood heartache, more so than Anderson will ever see.

This doesn't mean that she hasn't earned her place beside him - not behind him, or at the foot of his bed. X-Files without Anderson? Without Scully?

Imagine that. We don't follow Scully into the basement to meet "Spooky Mulder," we're just tossed down there, with poor Mulder salivating over slides of dead teenagers with huge moles on their backs, alone. Instead of having a partner to bounce his theories off of, he - what - drones into his hand-held tape recorder?

Scully is not only his partner. She's his perfect confidante, available to both support him and challenge him.. Without her, X-Files would be reduced to an hour-long Mulder-monologue on "I believe this" and "I believe that," with a few aliens and the cigarette man, ending with Mulder's report to Skinner. No matter how many plots Carter could come up with, they wouldn't shine with that extra element of drama provided by the give and take between Mulder and Scully. Not to mention the sexual tension. Sherlock needed Watson to mull over the day's findings and tomorrow's plans. Why deny Mulder his Scully?

The Golden Globes obviously wouldn't. They awarded her with the equivalent of Duchovny's prize: Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series. The Screen Actor's Guild went a step further, honouring her as best actress, while her co-star's would-be award went to someone on NYPD Blue. An injustice, but still enough reason for us to take notice of Anderson's undeniable talent; us and hopefully those who decide her salary.

When Duchovny dominated the magazine covers in 1995, she was quoted as saying, "I felt like, this is our show. It wasn't just his [Mulder's] show. But I learned not to care so much."

So much so, that when accepting her SAG award, the first person she thanked was Duchovny, her "cohort in crime," saying, "I couldn't have done it without him." He answered, "yeah, I read your name" - jokingly, of course. Most jokes, however, veil a certain truth, and perhaps this one will steer die-hard Duchovny fans and the Network to a greater appreciation for Anderson's worth. And to a better salary.

She is one-half the thrill of X-Files, and one-hundred percent woman.

Transcript provided by Alfred and appears courtesy of Eclipse.

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