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Gillian Anderson Prepares to "X-It"
March 2002
by Ian Spelling
(Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.)
The truth is rattling around Gillian Anderson's brain.

On May 19, after nine triumphant years, "The X-Files" will close its final dossier. No more government conspiracies, no more guys named Deep Throat and gals named Bambi Berenbaum, no more supersoldiers. And no more Scully and Mulder.

"It's very strange," Anderson says. "It's very surreal. You know, I've been looking forward to this for a long time, and now that it's here it just feels like time has gone by so incredibly quickly.

"It doesn't feel like it's been nine years," she says, "and yet it feels like it's been 29 years. I need to allow myself to have the juxtaposition of moving on to things new and also the mourning of things old. And I need to not think one over the other is better or worse."

No one knows for sure whether Fox would have renewed "The X-Files" for a tenth season had creator/executive producer Chris Carter not pulled the plug on the show, but it didn't matter as far as Anderson was concerned: Her contract was up, and she had no intention of returning for another year.

As Dana Scully, she spent the better part of the current season praying for the safety of the in-hiding Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and providing guidance to Agents Doggett and Reyes (Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish). Many a Scully scene also focused on the character's maternal side as she tended to baby William, Mulder's son, a miracle child Scully delivered despite the facts that she was barren and that she and Mulder, so far as anyone knew, had barely even kissed.

"From the very beginning I've just kind of gone along with whatever they've put in front of me," the soft-spoken Anderson says during a conversation on the 20th Century Fox lot. "I've focused my energy in other ways in my life and not really gotten involved in the (creative process).

"Chris has been pretty good about trying to figure out exactly what it is the audience needs, what it is that needs to be told in terms of all the characters," she says, "and I've just trusted that. First of all, you can't fight Chris, and second, it's just what it is.

"So it's been a challenge to work with babies," she adds, "and it's been an interesting sideline to have to be constantly with child or putting a child into the crib, scene after scene. But then there's been some great stuff I've gotten to do that I wouldn't have if I were more mobile. And it's been great for the other characters, too, to have me out of the way and be able to just kind of do their thing."

The Scully-Mulder saga will return to the fore soon enough, however: Duchovny will appear in "The Truth," the two-hour series finale set to air on May 19.

"I think it's great," Anderson says. "I didn't realize how important it would be for that to happen. When I heard, I was very excited _ he called me, and we had a conversation about the fact that he was coming back and possibly going to be directing.

"I guess I didn't realize how much I was missing him and how integral he was," the actress says. "I mean, I understood that, but I guess I didn't realize that we needed his presence to make a necessary closure."

Duchovny's return will enable Carter to wrap up much of the show's legendary mythology and set the stage for a second "X-Files" feature. If all goes according to plan, the second film, likely to be released in 2004, will be more of a stand-alone story.

Though Anderson says that she's "definitely" up for a series of "X-Files" features, she also wants to distance herself from Scully. As soon as production ends, she intends to spend some time with her 7-year-old daughter, Piper, and then dive into several projects. She's signed to star in "What the Night Is For," a new play set to open in London's West End in October, and is looking for a movie role to fill her summer. She will eventually write and direct a film version of the Elizabeth Rossner novel "Speed of Light."

Back in 1993, when she first stepped onto the "X-Files" set, Anderson was single and childless. During the course of the show's run she has married, given birth to Piper and divorced. Professionally she arrived as a virtual unknown, with only an episode of "Class of '96" and the low-budget film "The Turning" under her belt, and has evolved into an award-winning actress with such substantial films as "Playing By Heart" and "The House of Mirth" to her credit.

"The fact of the matter is that I grew up during the course of this show," Anderson says. "I started when I was 24 and am ending at almost 34 _ that's almost a third of my life. I was so young and naive and impressionable and didn't have a clue about the business or anything at that time.

"To grow up and to make mistakes along the way and to experience my life while trying to be somebody else 18 hours a day has been an interesting task," she concludes. "And I also did it very publicly.

"So it's ... as I said, it's been surreal."

Transcript appears courtesy of The New York Times Syndicate.

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