The X-Istnetial Files
Would Duchovny and Anderson like Mulder and Scully?
By Louis B. Parks
June 2, 1998
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Imagine an X-Files episode even stranger than usual, if that's possible, in which the FBI heroes and the actors who play them end up in the same alternate universe.
David Duchovny thinks he would enjoy hanging out with Fox Mulder.
"One of the things I like about Mulder," Duchovny says of his X-Files alter ego, "is his ability to make fun of himself.
"I find that to be what I like in a person, that they have a perspective to step out of a situation and see how ridiculous they are being.
"Even though he's utterly committed, Mulder is always the one who steps back and makes fun of himself or Scully or the situation. Then to be able to jump right back in and be ridiculous again."
Gillian Anderson is not so sure about befriending Dana Scully.
"I could be friends," Anderson says, pausing a long moment to think about it, "but I'm not sure if she would be able to engage in the same kind of conversations."
In her hotel suite, Anderson sits by a window. The bright California midday light on the side of her face makes her blue eyes seem almost transparent. It reflects off the silver bracelet of her large watch, her only jewelry, as she raises a coffee mug to her lips.
Earlier this morning, at a group interview, Anderson was cutting up and laughing. Now she seems a bit more reflective when answering questions. She looks you in the eyes but somehow seems far away.
"Scully has pigeonholed herself into her career to such a dramatic degree," she says. "It's hard for her to philosophize. It's hard for her to have any in-depth conversations about life, about relationships about anything."
It seems ironic, given those two attitudes, that it is Duchovny who most often speaks out about wanting to escape from playing Mulder while Anderson seems more content.
"I think I will miss her, not having her in my life," Anderson says of the day - perhaps even further in the future now that The X-Files movie is a hit - when she no longer portrays Scully.
"I'm not bored with Scully," she says. "I am at times frustrated with not having the freedom to do other projects. I go through stages where I can hear Scully say the same things over and over."
She even credits Scully with helping her grow as a person.
"She's taught me a lot about humanness," Anderson says. "She's very responsible, she's very adult, she's very mature, she's compassionate. She has a lot of qualities I haven't been but always wished I could be, and have started to pay attention to a little more."
Despite her admiration for Scully, Anderson does get peeved at her constant skepticism.
"It gets a little frustrating sometimes. There have been times when I felt like, how could she be in the room without believing what is going on? It's hard to know how to play that sometimes.
"She's gotten much more open-minded over time, but still she continues to show her disbelief in many things where you say, `Oh, come on, how can she not believe when she saw that?"'
Anderson 's frustration probably stems from not being so skeptical herself.
"My belief about extraterrestrials boils down to a belief that we are humans on a planet in the midst of so many planets that we can't even fathom it. To think we are the only life forms is somewhat egocentric of us."
And Duchovny? He, not surprisingly, wishes Mulder were sometimes more skeptical.
"I find it exhausting, as a performer, to have to `believe' in so much. Sometimes I would like not to believe in some things. I believe in aliens, I believe in vampires, I believe in it all."
His own personality, in direct contrast to Mulder's, causes him not to believe in the conspiracy-think that makes The X-Files run.
"I can't imagine something as large as the Kennedy assassination or contact with extraterrestials being covered up," he says. "I don't know if you've ever tried to keep a secret. Imagine trying to keep this one."
An actor-meets-character plot may be too bizarre for even The X-Files, so faithful X-philes will just have to be content with waiting each week to see how Mulder and Scully get along with each other.
For some romantically inclined viewers, the identity of the show's aliens or the meaning of bees are secondary to whether the world's most obsessed FBI agent will fall in love with the universe's most skeptical FBI agent.
In The X-Files movie, it can now be revealed, since every hard-core fan has seen the movie three times already, that Fox and Dana show hints of romantic interest, however brief. That can only add black oil to the flames of viewer interest.
Duchovny believes that what happens in the movie, though it is only the slightest of fan teases by X-Files puppetmaster-writer Chris Carter, has to change the characters' relationship when the TV show resumes in its sixth season. Duchovny figures that more obsessive watchers, wide-eyed for every nuance and detail, will make much of what little the movie tells.
"I would imagine the fact that Mulder goes for a kiss . . . that's big because (before) you wouldn't have known who would have initiated it," he says.
Duchovny, who is staying in a suite just across the hall from Anderson 's, seems laid-back now. He has an air of boyish amusement, which is only accentuated by his hair, which on this day is cut so short it stands up all over.
"I'm not a fan (of the show)," Duchovny says, "so I don't know who (Scully or Mulder) likes who more. Fans probably do. So, that Mulder initiates that kiss is interesting and definitely something more than happens on the TV show."
For her part, however, Anderson thinks the basic relationship will remain in a state of tantalizing suspension next season. But she would not bet against Carter writing something to totally surprise her.
"In the series we need to do a constant pulling away and coming together," Anderson says. "That happens in the film, but there's a heightened level of intimacy and care that sometimes you don't get in the show, (but) which I thought was played very well in the film.
"One of the things I was most struck by that I didn't get in the script is that it's a love story. That was a strong through-line.
"I'm curious myself how the relationship is going to shift in the series, wondering how we can go back to playing the series after feeling something on the big screen that felt so important and so momentous. I think Chris will make sure that will happen.
"I really have no idea. I am kept wholly in the dark. I can't speak for David. And I don't ask that many questions. Mostly because I don't expect to get any answers."
What may be more remarkable than Scully and Mulder not getting together is that Duchovny and Anderson have managed to work together in the pressure cooker of an hourlong series and still seem to get along.
Actors on a series often see each other more than anyone else in the world, and usually under considerable stress. But Duchovny and Anderson seem to make it work year after year.
"You don't have other examples of a two-person show that comes back five seasons," says Duchovny, who found love in his personal life, marrying actress Tea Leone last year. "You have ensembles, but two-person shows explode, because it's tough to work like that. It's an arranged marriage.
"Obviously we're not as close as Mulder and Scully. We don't hang out. We've got a good working relationship. The fact that we are still doing the show speaks for itself.
"I feel fine going to work and seeing Gillian , and I feel fine when the day is over. We're friendly, we're friends, but it's not more than that. It's not less. It works."
Anderson doesn't seem surprised to hear that Duchovny has compared working together to a marriage.
"We spend so much time together that it's like we were married," says the now-single actress. "I would hope that a marriage was a little more intimate than our relationship.
"We have a strong working relationship, but our private relationship isn't very strong. We share some things sometimes with each other, but we have that separate outlet through other people in our lives."
Of course, to X-Files fans, it's not really important how Anderson and Duchovny get along. Just as long as Scully and Mulder don't become alienated from each other.
Transcript appears courtesy of Houston Chronicle.