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July 1998

Generation X

Young, blonde, off-Broadway stage actress Gillian Anderson made her jump to the movies in 1992 with a film adaptation of the play Home Fires Burning. At 24, she clinched the lead role in an obscure sci-fi drama for the Fox network, created by Chris Carter. During her five years as brainy, henna-headed FBI pathologist Dana Scully opposite David Duchovny's Fox Mulder on "The X-Files," she's earned two SAG Awards, a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination for Best Actress, gotten married, had a baby and still managed to be named one of People magazine's "50 Sexiest People in the World" in 1997. Anderson took a break from filming the Miramax drama Dancing About Architecture, co-starring Sean Connery and Anthony Edwards, to talk to rough cut about The X-Files movie.

Interviewer: You've inhabited Scully for five years now on television. Is there any difference bringing her to the big screen? Do you present anything differently, or is it just a matter of another episode that lasts two hours this time?

Gillian: I have learned that it is just about doing the same thing. I mean, I think in my mind I had to up the stakes a little bit, and sometimes considerably more and certainly in the film the stakes are considerably higher than they have been in the TV show, but it mostly came down to just doing what I was used to doing and not putting any extra pressure on myself for not attempting to do anything bigger and better, simply because when your face is stretched on the screen and you're doing bigger, it shows up 10 times bigger, 1,000 times bigger, and you don't want that. So, it's about finding a happy balance somewhere.

Interviewer: Did you have concerns, though? We had been wondering about whether or not this would be accessible to people who weren't "X-Files" fans.

Gillian: You know, I didn't have concerns, simply because I felt that in the script Chris had worked incredibly hard to make sure that it would be enjoyable for anybody, whether they were an avid fan or had never seen a second of the show in their life. I knew that that was one of his main intentions, and in seeing the movie, I very strongly feel that he has pulled that off.

Interviewer: Scully is such a full-dimensional character. Is there any element of her that you enjoy playing more than another?

Gillian: I feel like I've done a lot of "feeling" stuff lately, which didn't used to be the case. I almost feel like now I just want to do a little more butt-kicking.

Interviewer: A lot of people are looking for a romance. Would you like that to happen?

Gillian: Well, from day one, we've been talking about the fact that it just wouldn't work in the series, but I'm curious as to how, after the movie and the extra zing that's in the film, whether it should or shouldn't influence how we are with each other in the series. If it does, how will it influence the work that we do? I don't know.

Interviewer: You have been, as I said, inhabiting this character for five years. How much control do you have over that? When you see a script can you say, "Well, I don't think Scully would do this." Can you go back to them ....

Gillian: Most of the time, actually 99 percent of the time, that is just not an issue. I don't think I've ever read a script that something has struck me and I've thought, "God, Scully wouldn't do this." I mean, Chris (Carter), I don't know how many zillions of times he goes over every syllable in every script and would not let something seep through that was questionable in terms of their characters. And so I have a lot of trust in that.

Interviewer: Are you a fan of the horror genre, yourself?

Gillian: No, no. I'm not. In fact, I can't stomach horror films, at all.

Interviewer: What about the ickiness factor there?

Gillian: I'm not scared of icky stuff. Like, icky stuff doesn't bother me, but in terms of horror stuff, I have to separate myself completely from what I'm doing and just show up and pretend that it's something else or I'm not affected by it.

Interviewer: You mentioned not having to worry about the script and whether or not you felt it was "Scully" or not, but you also said that you'd like to kick some butt this year. So, how, as an actress, do you persuade them, or do you persuade them?

Gillian: Well, actually, a while ago, I guess, I had made a comment to Chris about the fact that I wanted a scene where I actually had a fight scene. Like a really, knock-down, dirty fight scene, and he put one in. He put one in another show called "Kill Switch" where I end up coming in and annihilating, I guess, a whole bunch of nurse bimbos.

Interviewer: On the show, there's a lot of running through dark hallways and stuff. Do you ever get banged up or hit a wall or anything like that?

Gillian: Have I ever hit a wall? Yeah. I've never, knock wood, really hurt myself badly. I mean, I've gotten banged up, but I'm pretty resilient myself.

Interviewer: Flash back five years, when you first heard about the show and you were going to go audition for it. What was your sense of the show? What did you think of it when you went to the audition?

Gillian: Well, at the time I wasn't in the habit of reading TV scripts, and when I did read the pilot, I was struck how unlike a TV script it was and, also, by how complicated and interesting the relationship was between Mulder and Scully. I think that more than anything, her intelligence and her strength in standing up to Mulder and feeling confident about expressing her beliefs in front of somebody who was touted as being near God in terms of his work at the FBI. I responded incredibly strongly to that and was very intrigued by the character of Scully and by their relationship.

Interviewer: But is Scully a double-edged sword, because she's so well-defined and so many people see her? How does that affect you in terms of other choices that you could possibly be up for?

Gillian: I have not had a problem with that so far. Most of the scripts that I get range in everything. What I've done so far has been very different. I played kind of a southside Chicago chick, early 20s, in a movie called Chicago Cab and then a middle-aged vintage biker-alcoholic in a movie called The Mighty. I tend to steer away from those that are similar to Scully at all and, hopefully, will pull it off. I mean, everybody may say, "Ah, didja see Scully in there?" "Uh, I don't know." But, I haven't gotten any indication that I'm being typecast at all.

Interviewer: I have to ask you a question about some of the dialogue in some of the shows and in the movie. As I'm sitting there and I'm listening to you guys spew this scientific stuff and these philosophies, I'm wondering is there ever a point where you go, "What the hell am I saying here?"

Gillian: Oh, yeah. All the time. And that's what dictionaries are for, and thesauruses.

Interviewer: Do you really look it up?

Gillian: Yeah, I do. Not all the time, but I do.

Interviewer: Do you have a doctor that you turn to perhaps to get ...?

Gillian: No, there's really not any time for that. Most of the time that I'm looking at dialogue for the next day is at two in the morning, so there's not really a doctor that I can call up. There's really no need to at this point, but, yeah, I constantly wonder what I'm talking about.

Interviewer: Can you talk about working with David (Duchovny). It's been talked about for five years now, but just sum up...

Gillian: Summing up working with David? In what respect? I mean....

Interviewer: You kind of get a feel for people. You've known him enough time now, so when you work intimately with him non-stop, is he that great a guy?

Gillian: Um... let's go on to another question.

Interviewer: One of the things that's been very surprising in the last couple of years, is young, really young, fans of "The X- Files." Your daughter. Does she watch it? Have you been approached by very young fans, and what are they saying to you?

Gillian: It's usually parents who have young kids who will come up and say, "My son, my four-year-old, is such a big fan," and I don't know how to perceive that, really, because it's so scary and I couldn't imagine my daughter having a show that she had to see every week, especially one that scared the heck out of her. I don't even know how to quite take that in. I mean, what's amazing about the show is that it reaches so many different audiences, so many different ages, so many different races, so many different cultures, so many different walks of life, and it's truly phenomenal in that way. That it touches people.

Interviewer: What do you attribute that to?

Gillian: I really don't know. A lot of people have asked me why I think the show is so successful, and I have my pat answer for that, but in terms of why it appeals to so many different ages, I could hypothesize that a lot of young kids like scary stuff and monsters and ghoulies and stuff, and so that's why it appeals to them. You know, the teen-age crowd really likes the characters and the romance between the characters and the intelligence of the characters, and it gives them something to look up to in a sense. And the older crowd, the mature crowd, the adult crowd... I think the intelligence of the scripts really appeals to them. I think that the look of the show and the appreciation for the production value is intriguing and important to some people. They're also interested in the relationship and the sexual tension, and a lot of adults have kids inside of them. The element of ghoulishness really appeals to a lot of adults, too. I don't quite understand the wholeattraction to horror films, but that's just what I can imagine.

Interviewer: You just said the key word: "intelligence." How satisfying is that to you to play an intelligent woman, something that we don't see every day on television?

Gillian: It's incredibly gratifying, and I don't think that I would have been able to stick with it as long as I have been. Not that I would have had a choice, but it would have been harder to stick with it were I not playing such an intelligent, such an interesting and multidimensional character as she is.

Interviewer: Can you talk about the sexiness for a moment, because I think you've managed to create a character, and I realize that the writers are part of this, but your physicality in the character has tremendous sex appeal without being overt or provocative.

Gillian: Isn't that bizarre? I mean, when people first started saying that Scully was sexy or that they thought that Scully was hot, I just didn't get it, but now I do. My concept was that what men specifically found attractive was what they were used to seeing on TV, what they were being fed year in and year out: blonde and chesty and leggy and skimpy clothing, and that's what men found attractive. When people started saying that Scully was [sexy], I just didn't understand it. I just didn't get it. I guess, now, I'm starting to. It seems to be like a sleeper fantasy in a sense of the same thing as the schoolgirl thing. Not that Scully's wearing these little skirts, but there's something about the mixture of intelligence and "What does she really look like underneath that suit?" kind of thing. I mean, I'm not saying that that's what's going through men's minds and that's all they can be attracted to is what's underneath, but I was just trying to fathom in some way what it was that men found attra ctive in Scully.

Interviewer: What about the other side of that, though, because the person that we're seeing here today seems like a pretty funny woman. You seem like you have a good sense of humor. What about taking a funny comedy or something like that?

Gillian: Well, I have great interest in doing that. I have gotten an opportunity to be funny in certain "X-Files" episodes. I don't know if you're familiar with them, but there's this one, especially, called "Bad Blood" that we did this last season, and a lot of the Darin Morgan scripts, and we've had lots of opportunity to play comedy in the show. I enjoy it. Most of the theater that I've done has been British farce so that's where my background is. And, so I will again.

Transcript appears courtesy of TNT's Roughcut.

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