"Gillian Calls The Shots"
By Ian Spelling
Gillian Anderson is a Leo.
As such, the actress says, she's "good at being bossy." And that came in handy after she convinced creator/producer Chris Carter to let her make her writing and directing debuts with "All Things," an episode of "The X-Files" that will air April 9.
"What happened was that I sat down right after a conversation with my manager and started writing an outline for the entire episode," Anderson says. "I didn't plan on that all the characters came out. All the beats came out, and everything just flowed onto the page. I guess it was needing to get out there somewhere.
"The next day I went in and pitched the idea to Chris Carter," she recalls, "and I told him that if I were going to write it I also wanted to direct it. He said, 'Great. Begin, and show me what you have when you have it.'
"And I kind of started from there."
Anderson's story -- which writer/producer Frank Spotnitz helped give that "X-Files" touch -- finds Scully (Anderson) grappling with sins from her past when she encounters Dr. Daniel Waterston and his daughter, Maggie. It seems that Scully and Waterston had an affair years earlier, a dalliance that wrecked WaterstonOs family and compelled Scully to join the FBI.
As the hour unfolds, it explores issues of fate and faith vs. unpredictability and doubt, love of family vs. emotional escape into loneliness and the clinical vs. the beautiful. Amid all of that, fans of the relationship between Scully and Mulder (David Duchovny) are in for a tasty treat. There's even a visit of sorts from God.
"One of the concepts I wanted to imbue the script with is the idea that we are guided, in a sense, through our lives," Anderson says during a conversation from her "X-Files" trailer on the Fox lot in Hollywood. "There are reasons for so-called coincidences."
"That was the initial concept behind the script," she says, "and it's hard to say where all the other aspects of it came into being, from Scully's relationship with a man from her past to the man's relationship with his daughter."
"I can't even say how those came up," she concludes. "I don't know I just don't know."
Anderson overcame serious jitters to discover that directing wasn't quite as tough as she had anticipated.
"I was terrified beforehand about how I was going to figure stuff out in terms of what shots I needed and how one melded into the next, what lenses to use and all of that," she says. "I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much had just sunk in over the last seven years.
"I also had one of our regular directors, Kim Manners, as my right-hand man, to lead me through it," the actress adds. "I was able to prep, do shot lists and then show up and actually know where we were going to go, how many shots we needed to do, how I wanted to see it visually and everything like that."
Directing her co-star worked out perfectly well, too.
"David only worked a day and a half on the episode," Anderson says. "It went fine. He showed up and he was prepared."
Anderson believes she got the episode she sought to achieve, but will reserve final judgment until after she completes the editing process.
By that time, however, another unknown -- the future of 'The X-Files' itself -- will likely have been decided, perhaps distracting from "All Things."
The actress reiterates that she does not want to return for an eighth season, but has two new points to add: She wouldn't be interested in forging on without Duchovny, nor in playing Scully as a recurring role on the possible Lone Gunmen spinoff, the pilot of which recently wrapped production in Vancouver.
"The dilemma we're in right now is we've got four more episodes to shoot, and we may not know if it's going for another year until we've got two more episodes to shoot," Anderson says, sounding both forceful and sad. "For them to suddenly come and say, 'You know what? You're not going to do this anymore,' would be a blow to the stomach.
"That would give us two episodes to go through a mourning process that we should have had at least six months to go through," she says. "At that point, when it becomes, 'Oh my God, do we let this go or do we go on?,' of course we're going to not want to let go of it.
"We'll feel, 'We've been doing this for seven years, and we've only got two more to do together,'" she says. "We'd want to extend it a little bit more."
Anderson pauses for a moment, searching for the right words.
"It's kind of an awkward and unfortunate situation that everyone is in right now, not the least of whom is Chris Carter," she says. "If this is the last season, he has to wrap it up in two episodes. "It's going to be insane."
Transcript provided by The Haven and appears courtesy of The New York Times.