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Australian Rolling Stone Magazine
July 1996

by Andrew Denton

ANDREW: So how have you found big fame?

GILLIAN: Oh, I don't think I have found it.

ANDREW: You don't think so?

GILLIAN: It's found me, but I don't think I've found it. Fame at the moment feels like a lot of hard work.

ANDREW: This is the thing that keeps coming through from everybody, that you guys are just stuck in this insane shooting cycle.

GILLIAN: We are. Actually the last two or three episodes, except for this one, have been a little lighter. We've had a couple of days off which is pretty rare.

ANDREW: When you say that you haven't really experienced fame yet, are you glad to have that cocoon or curious to find out what it's like?

GILLIAN: No, I am glad to have it. I don't know, it's a very weird thing. I get a few tastes of what fame is supposed to be I guess. The only time I really get an opportunity to participate in it in that way is when we do something like the awards ceremonies and everybody's there. I don't go to the parties. The fame thing that you see once in a while is the hype based on these ceremonies. It's become this huge beast that is influenced by so many people. Some people who are in it perceive it as the greatest thing on earth. Being the centre of attention is, for some, a fabulous thing, and you can see others wincing when the camera goes on.

ANDREW: I've read that you used to be rather wild in your youth, with purple hair and a pierced nose or something like that. I would've thought you'd go for the potential party life that fame offers you.

GILLIAN: I'm actually a very private person, very quiet.

ANDREW: Very quiet. Okay, well I want to ask you about your acting style. After all, your background is largely theatrical, right?


ANDREW: So, was there a part of you that thought initially, "working in television, it's a bit of a step down in class"?

GILLIAN: Absolutely. When I first thought about doing films I swore that I was never going to move to Los Angeles, and then once I moved there I swore that I was never going to do television.

ANDREW: So what changed your mind?

GILLIAN: Things have changed quite a bit in the past few years in terms of the crossover between television and film actors, and the level and respectability of television shows. Television scripts started getting better and the actors who would do parts as well. It's a very different medium than it was 15 years ago.

ANDREW: Can you look your theatrical friends in the eye now? Was there a period where you felt, not so much ashamed, but concerned about their reactions to you working in television?

GILLIAN: Well I don't really have any friends.

ANDREW: Ohhh Gillian.

GILLIAN: So I didn't really get any reaction. I'm very proud to be on a show that is so highly respected and has such high production standards and also to be involved with two very intelligent characters. That's the best possible scenario. I still feel on some levels like I'm waiting until I can get into some real meaty stuff - when the show's over or during the hiatus in summer. I'm involved in something I care a lot about, but it's a step towards doing something like film.

ANDREW: Does it worry you that you might be typecast in the role of Dana Scully?

GILLIAN: No. The scripts that people have been giving me are a far cry from my character so I'm lucky in that way.

ANDREW: Where did this low-key style of acting come from? Is that your actual style or was that what was required for _The X-Files_?

GILLIAN: It's not my style, and it wasn't necessarily required. It became evident to David and I in the beginning; it was never something that we actually discussed, it was something that just happened as we worked together. It was hinted at in the scripts. The scripts basically tell us everything, and guide us everywhere with each episode. The lines are written very deadpan, and there's not a lot of room for over-expression. Or you could go the complete opposite way with this genre and overplay it because of the nature of that medium. I think we both somehow settled on the underplaying of it which has become a part of the show.

ANDREW: It's incredibly refreshing. Do you sometimes look at the scripts and think, "What are these people on?"

GILLIAN: Sometimes I look at them and think, "How the hell are we going to pull that off?" We've done so many of them now I don't think anything shocks me anymore.

ANDREW: Were there things that shocked you along the way?

GILLIAN: I don't know about shock me, no. There are things that I consider less believable than others that have been written about.

ANDREW: I presume everyone asks you for your beliefs now?

GILLIAN: It's actually been talked about a bit too much.

ANDREW: Well, I won't push you, although I am curious to know whether people try to push their beliefs on to you, such as "I've seen UFOs, they're out there, or I was abducted by the Internal Revenue Service" or something like that?

GILLIAN: I actually haven't had that experience. One guy approached me once in LA. He was part of a UFO organisation and had written me a little note that said he wanted me to get back to him so he could tell me the real story about things.

ANDREW: How can Scully, after so much evidence, still be sceptical about UFOs?

GILLIAN: The answer has become the game. I have to ask that question of every script: "How is she skeptical in this episode?" She can admit to herself, to a certain degree, that something has taken place that is not explainable via science or medicine. But that doesn't mean that she can automatically accept everything as being paranormal in nature. Each new situation that she comes across she has to - for her own sanity and also because that is the way she has been brought up and trained - automatically go back to science before she can jump to any philosophical conclusions.

ANDREW: Have you actually become a good amateur scientist from doing this series? Have you picked up the jargon?

GILLIAN: Not at all. I have a tendency to forget everything that I have memorised once we move on to a new episode.

ANDREW: Is that a good tendency?

GILLIAN: I wish that I could retain the information, it would be very beneficial for certain things, but it's just not happening that way and I just have to kinda go with the flow.

ANDREW: Your character, Dana, is very straight-laced. Wouldn't you like her to let her hair down a little, have a relationship, not with Fox, but with someone else?

GILLIAN: I think at some point in might be interesting to see her battle with that, not necessarily something that is successful, but something she is trying to work on at some point. It would be an interesting obstacle for her, but I don't think it's necessary. It would also be a very touchy situation, because the show is not about our personal lives, it would take away from what the show is really about which is the paranormal experiences and our investigations into them.

ANDREW: That's true. David says that the episodes he most enjoys are those where he gets a chance to explore his character a bit more, would you like that opportunity?

GILLIAN: Absolutely. I mean there are [episodes] every once in a while that we get to dig our teeth into, which really offer us the opportunity to to explore ourselves as actors and explore the characters a bit more and to express some semblance of emotion other than shock, fright, fear.

ANDREW: Do you have a personal favourite?

GILLIAN: I have a couple of favourites: "Beyond the Sea" and "Irresistible". They were the first ones that really dealt with Scully questioning her beliefs in some way, and also going through the death of her father, so there was some emotional stuff to explore.

ANDREW: It seems to me that it's a very '90s show, but the roles are still quite traditional in some ways. Mulder is always the naughty boy having the scrapes and you're the mum who looks after him and cleans up. Does it seem that way to you?

GILLIAN: It's interesting, because so many people have commented on the fact that Scully is such a modern, strong, independant, '90s character, which, on the one hand, is very correct and I'm grateful for that, but on the other hand, it is traditional in some ways. Traditional in the fact that Mulder's always the one that's right. The audience is on his side, he's the hero, he's the one who gets hurt, he's the one who is brave.

ANDREW: Have you attempted to alter that balance at all?

GILLIAN: I've talked about it before in interviews and I have heard other people bring it up with the writers so I haven't actually broached the subject myself. The dynamic between the two of us keeps the drama interesting and alive, and the easy and stereotypical way is with the male and female roles.

ANDREW: Do you ever have moments on the set where you crack up over something? Do you ever get that sort of release or is it always very serious?

GILLIAN: It happens all the time... Both David and I have mischievous streaks in us and we're constantly up to no good.

ANDREW: Such as?

GILLIAN: There was one night this season when there was a fire extinguisher in the corner on the wall and David and I spent the whole evening soaking down the crew as they walked by. When we mess up lines, unless it's a serious situation, something that is dead ends up being very funny - you just laugh and you can't stop laughing.

Transcript appears courtesy of Rolling Stone Magazine.

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