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January 1998 (Issue #40)

"Not So Clueless"
By Marc Shapiro

In the first of several exclusive DREAMWATCH interviews with the X-FILES' GILLIAN ANDERSON, Marc Shapiro asks the triple award winning actress what keeps her interest in FBI Agent Dana Scully alight after four years in the show...

There are no bad times to interview Gillian Anderson. Well, maybe there are.

"Right now I'm very tired and my brain is a little dead," chuckles a sleepy-eyed Anderson as she settles into a chair in a far corner of a Fox Studio soundstage where the last days of The X-Files movie are being shot.

“We'll be finishing the movie in a week, “ she reports. “Then we'll have two days to get back to Vancouver for the start of the fifth season of the show. There's not a whole lot of time to be a mom. “

Anderson, this day, is, owing to her exhaustion, a bit cutting when it comes to discussing The X-Files and, in particular, what keeps her going after four seasons on the show, now the movie and, according to published reports, at least three more seasons of The X-Files to come.

“What keeps me going? “ retorts Anderson. “Hell! I don't know! I'm under contract. I like the character and I like the idea that there's an audience out there that is really devoted to the show. I guess I feel kind of responsible for all the fans who would probably kill themselves if we went off the air. I'm definitely signed for more seasons. I won't tell you how many. Let's just say, enough. the show will go on for a while. “

Anderson's response, stated in very matter of fact, Scully-like tones, indicates that she is basically happy to continue playing her prim and proper FBI alter ego.

“I'm very happy with Scully at this point, “ she opines, shifting uncomfortably in her chair. “I'll play Scully as long as the character is good and continues to spark new interest for me. Once in a while, a really good script will turn up and there will be a new motivation for me to do good work. Sometimes I really enjoy playing Scully. In fact, these days, I enjoy her company quite often. I like her very much and, most of the time, playing her is a joy. “

And, she explains, the continued joy comes from the fact that Scully has continued to develop over the seasons. “I think she has definitely evolved. Scully and Mulder's relationship has become more equal. At the beginning, Scully was tentative and, to a degree, more pliable. Now she's less the follower, and more willing to be stronger and more independent. We've seen episodes, especially in the last couple of seasons, in which Mulder has ended up taking Scully's lead. Scully is definitely in a good place at this point. “

Anderson laughs at the notion that it takes some special talents to exist in a world where scientific jargon, disbelief and general paranoia are the order of the day. “I pretend. I act. The ability to pretend is a strong element to doing The X-Files. I was a good liar as a child and that talent has sure helped me as an adult. “

The laugh turns slightly annoyed when the inevitable question of how much Anderson is like Scully comes up.

“I tend to get very focused and serious when I'm tired and so at this moment I'm probably acting more like Scully than I normally do when I'm not in character. When people meet me, they always say 'Oh my god! You're so different from her! You're so different from her!' I really don't know what to say when that happens. I'm basically a goofball who is, like, a zillion times less intelligent than Scully is. She's also a lot taller than I am or haven't you noticed? “

Anderson glances absently around the soundstage and in the direction of a particularly dark corner where the cameras are being prepped for a mysterious bit of business to be shot later in the day. She sighs, complaining about the long hours and the load of takes. “You know, “ she chuckles, “It's like an X-File. “

The show, she says with awe, had no business getting this big. “It was so different from anything that was being done on television at the time, I don't think any of us expected it to go past a single season. We all thought, 'This will be fun. It will last 12 episodes and then we'll all go home and start making movies.' Little did we know. “

The laugh returns when Anderson is asked to address the seemingly ongoing tabloid reports of discord between Anderson and co-star David Duchovny regarding topics as diverse as equal pay and Duchovny's new wife, Tea Leoni, being on the set.

“All those reports are so insane! In terms of the pay dispute, that was all handled by the people at Fox. I don't think there was ever more than a one minute discussion about the money between David and I. There was a story about me slamming my trailer door and not talking to David because of the salary thing, and that was just ludicrous. If I'm angry at him about the money or anything else, I'll tell him. “

“But the money thing is not about David. It's about paying two people who are doing the same job, the same amount of money regardless of sex. It's not David's fault he's making what he's making. There's never been a reason to take it out on him. “

And the blowup with Tea Leoni? “I'm not the person who kicks somebody's wife off the set. At the point that supposedly happened, I hadn't even met her. “

Anderson swings the conversation in the direction of her recent extracurricular projects. She proclaims that her upcoming film roles in The Mighty and Hellcab will show “a definite non-Scully side of me. “ She laughs off her recent music video experience.

“It was not a singing career. It was just a one off, fun thing. It wasn't about putting out a single. It was about me having fun. I was hoping people wouldn't think I was taking it all too seriously. Trust me, you don't want to hear me sing. “

Anderson's assistant comes over with the news that the actress is needed back on the set. In an attempt to gather some movie anecdotes, we ask Anderson what her favorite scenes in the movie are. Anderson laughs one final time and proves, finally, that she is not that tired.

“My favorite scene? If I told you that, it would mean telling you about the movie. And you know I can't tell you that... “

Transcript provided by Alfred and appears courtesy of Dreamwatch.

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