June 3, 1998
The X-Files Game - Interview with Gillian Anderson
By Charlotte Panther,
Thousands of X-Files fanatics' dreams came true today at E3, when Gillian Anderson, a.k.a. Agent Dana Scully, showed up at the Fox Interactive booth to sign autographs and promote Fox's upcoming title, The X-Files adventure game.
Before she greeted her fans, Ms. Anderson took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her experience working on the game. The project, she told us, was very different from her day-to-day experiences on the television show, which has just completed its fifth season on Fox. When making the CD-ROM game, she found that much of her time was spent repeating the same lines over and over in different ways - saying them with both a positive and negative intonation, for example - so that gamers would hear different responses based on the decisions they make during the game. Although she felt that this method didn't really involve her as an actor as much as the TV show or the movie, the result in the final game is just as impressive.
Her part of the filming for the game, which began on Easter weekend last year, was completed in seven days. Knowing that the film crew had been unable to get all the footage they wanted in the allotted time period, Anderson volunteered to go back and shoot some more so that they could get all the material they needed. As for her initial involvement in the project, she says that she wasn't privy to any of the early discussions regarding her, Duchovny's, and X-Files creator Chris Carter's participation. She was told that he wanted her in it, and agreed to do the game, with little much ado - "I didn't know I had a choice," she told us jokingly.
So does she consider herslf a gamer? Not seriously, but she has played Tetris and Myst.
QUESTION: With your work moving from TV and film to CD-ROM: First off, does it change, and secondly, how does the electronic industry, the CD-ROM industry, change how you are approaching your craft, your industry, your job?
GILLIAN: OK, let's start with the first question. The CD-ROM was very different than anything I've been involved in before. It wasn't really so much about acting, it was about hitting marks, it was about leading the other characters towards an end, and what that meant was standing in one spot saying the same lines in different ways, or saying lines that were positive and negative ends in the middle depending upon what the players response will be. It doesn't really involve you as an actor very much.
But by the same token, I think in the final product, the game, we're not stick figures, we're not animatronic - you feel like you are interacting with us. But it's a very different experience, and in terms of the series and the movie, you know the series when we're doing it, it's relentless, it's nonstop, and it's way too many lines and way too much time; it just moves very, very fast. But at the same time, we have an opportunity to work with some really good scripts and to really kind of buckle down and do some good work, and to learn and to grow. In the movie it was different. The stakes were a little higher because it was so much bigger, and there was so much more money involved, and so initially I felt like the stakes were higher for me, to be better at what I did, and I found out very quickly that that was not necessarily what I need to be focused on. I just need to basically show up and do what I had been doing and hope that it translates some way onto the big screen.
QUESTION: Did you or David ever play video games, and if so, what were, or what are, your favorites?
GILLIAN: I can't speak for David; I imagine that he doesn't play video games. I have played some. Many years ago, I played Tetris, and I've played Myst - just a little bit though. I mean, I've said this a lot in other interviews, but I'm terrified of losing consciousness or delving into some other reality that I'm not able to come out of, and forget I'm a mother and have responsibilities. Tortured Souls - it's like Tetris, but with eyeballs falling down. I really like that. That's a while ago - that was, I think, even before my daughter was born. And now, the only time I really take out my laptop at all is when I take it out and play Arthur Goes to School and Green Eggs and Ham. I have requested a lot of CD-ROMs, educational CD-ROMS, dictionaries, pictionaries, encyclopedias, and stuff that is still in packages. But they're there for a time when I have some time.
QUESTION: How did you get involved with the game itself?
GILLIAN: Hmmm, well, I work on a show called the X-Files... and then, Fox was doing a CD-ROM on the X-Files, and I was naturally one of the people they chose to participate.
QUESTION: According to Fox Interactive president John Richmond, it took some convincing from Chris Carter or someone in the show. Did someone in the show convince everyone else to be a part of the game?
GILLIAN: I wasn't privy to any of that. I was asked when I knew they were doing it, and I wasn't sure that I had much choice. I showed up to Seattle, and we did it.
QUESTION: After the initial filming, you went back to them, and I understand you told them you'd be willing to give them more time. Was it because you enjoyed the experience that much?
GILLIAN: No, it was because I wanted a free ride to Seattle. No, I knew that they didn't have everything they wanted, and I like the Four Seasons hotel in Seattle.
QUESTION: Was the shoot for the show easier? I know that the shoots for the show are quite long.
GILLIAN: I think I worked a total of six days in all, and it was compact. In the end, they got everything they needed. It says in the press stuff that they shot for seven weeks. As I understand it, they may have shot for seven weeks, but they were working on [the project] for months and months and months. My participation in it seems large in the show, but it was actually quite minimal in comparison to what we're used to being involved in, in the series.
QUESTION: Why does it seem there are more male gamers than female gamers, and what kinds of games would appeal to women, in your view?
GILLIAN: Somebody was telling me about a CD-ROM game that's out right now that's really popular amongst men. Something about some guy, and women, and bikinis, saying "Let's go get some." See that doesn't seem like it would be appealing to women to me. I think maybe if more CD-ROMs were invented or designed that appealed to women and didn't insult them, then maybe we might have more of a female audience.
QUESTION: Your motivation for doing a CD-ROM is very different; you're filming very disjointed scenes, you're filming from different angles with the same reactions. How do you get your motivation as an actress to do that?
GILLIAN: I guess in the same way that you do for a [TV] scene. You try to imagine what that situation would be in that moment and try and compound it into the two or three words that you have to say, and hope that it makes sense, and hope that you're not overdoing it or underdoing it, and just trying to give it some sense of humanness.
QUESTION: You've already got quite a large following on the Internet. Are you anxious or perturbed that by participating in the game you're bringing a new paternity of unwashed geeks to your fan base? How do you feel about your fans and specifically the large Internet following you have?
GILLIAN: I haven't actually had that concern - unwashed geeks - or adding to the amount of fan base. I don't have much interaction with them. I don't log in to any of the web sites about me or the show or Scully's dog or whatever is out there. And obviously, as far as I'm concerned, you know, it's a safe realm. Most of the web sites are safe realms for people to communicate about something that they have a mutual enjoyment of. And it's not harming anybody. It's certainly not harming me.
QUESTION: Are there any images of yourself that you've absolutely hated?
GILLIAN: Oh yeah. They're out there all the time. I mean, sometimes, when I do signings, like at the Expo signings, these pictures will come across, and I'll just look horrified. "Where the hell did you get that from?" And actually, sometimes guys come up on streets outside of hotel rooms and want you to sign stuff. Then, they go off and make a million dollars. There are some that I will not sign just because they are not legal. I don't know where they've come from, and I certainly don't want to see them. I don't know why anybody else would want to see them!
QUESTION: What was your reaction at the X-Files Expo in New York when you saw 6,500 people all there to see you?
GILLIAN: The thing is, I was in a very bizarre situation, which spoiled me for that in a way, being in Australia a couple of years previously, because of the fact that Australia is literally the end of the earth. Usually bands go to Australia either at the beginning of the tour when they're still pretty green or at the end of the tour when they really do not give a damn about being there or just want to go home. People get the short end of the stick a lot. So anybody who shows up who is a celebrity - and especially because the show is so popular there - they just take advantage of it basically. So I showed up in Sydney, and Brisbane, and Melbourne, and there were about 12,000 to 15,000 in each place. That had been my previous experience, so having had that experience, 6,500 people, you know, just didn't cut it [laughs]. That's a joke. It is overwhelming, but, also, I have to think of it as myself being a representative of the show, and it's great for an afternoon, a couple of hours, then you go home to real life.
QUESTION: In terms of your character, Scully, Leonard Nemoy wrote a book saying, "I'm not Spock" and years later wrote "I am Spock." Do you see yourself going through a similar process?
GILLIAN: I'm not familiar with that, so I don't know exactly what aspects of the disclaimer you're referring to.
QUESTION: Not wanting to be identified with the character, and then later, wanting to.
GILLIAN: Well, I hope to God that I'm not in a position later in life where I'm like praying for people to recognize me as Scully. I mean, I hope I never find myself in this situation. I mean, I'm not Scully, and years from now, I hope I have had time to do as much studying and reading to have even half the brain that she has. I don't think that I, on the other hand, could ever be her, in many respects. I mean, I like my conversations with my friends, which she has few of, [and those] in and of themselves are very different from the type of conversations she might have with her friends. And, in that respect, I tend to approach life in a much more spontaneous and intuitive way than she does, and I doubt that that will decrease in any way as I get older.
QUESTION: Did you get a chance to look at the X-Fools parody that was done as a CD-ROM last year, and if so, what was your reaction?
GILLIAN: No, I didn't, so I have no reaction!
QUESTION: Do you think that the X-Files game does anything new for the character of Scully - develops her in some way or shows a new side of her?
GILLIAN: No, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
QUESTION: Did you get to play the game?
GILLIAN:> No, I haven't yet.
QUESTION: Will you?
GILLIAN: Yes. I will probably play it for about maybe 15 or 20 minutes.
QUESTION: The soundtrack for the X-Files movie is a pretty hip collection of bands. What are your favorite three bands right now or three CDs?
GILLIAN: My favorite three bands right now? I go through stages. A couple of weeks ago it was Propeller Heads. And then it was this CD I found called Rococo, which is... Latin - it's really beautiful. Oh, and then Yo-Yo Ma's Bach suites and Jeff Buckley's new CD that was just released. Just a whole wild assortment of stuff. I love world music.... I love jazz.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite X-Files episode?
GILLIAN: Every season, I usually have one of that season, but I think one of my all-time favorites now was from this past season, called "Bad Blood," which was an episode written by Vince Gilligan. It was Mulder and Scully's individual versions of an episode and basically our recounting of that. It was fun and challenging to film, and even funner to watch.
QUESTION: Are you going to miss Vancouver?
GILLIAN: I am, yes. I am. I still have my house up there, so I'll be going back. It's a wonderful place for us to spend the first couple of years, and they were very good to us.
QUESTION: Have you thought of doing any writing for the show or for anything else for that matter? As you get to know your acting craft a lot more, do you have ideas that you bring up?
GILLIAN: I usually don't have that many ideas for the show - I just kind of stick to my own stuff. I have had a couple of ideas that I've broached to Chris, which were good. He never really used them as a whole - he only used parts of them in different episodes of his own. I mean, I haven't written a whole script, but I have ideas and write in other ways, and might eventually do something.
QUESTION: That would be a function of time, I would imagine?
QUESTION: Would you do a game again if Fox was interested in doing a sequel?
GILLIAN: If it was a sequel of the X-Files. I mean, hopefully they would only do it if this is successful, so if this is successful, I'd be more than happy to.
QUESTION: What about the movie?
GILLIAN: If it's successful, I hope we do another one. I mean, hopefully, we're not going to be doing the series for the next ten years, and doing the movies on the hiatus. Hopefully, the film will be so successful that the series will trail off, and we'll just be doing the movies once in a while.
Transcript provided by Alfred Tow and appears courtesy of GameSpot.