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Gillian Anderson on Scully's Transition
to a $60 million+ saga.
May, 1998
By Douglas Eby and Jeanne Rohrer

For Gillian Anderson, working on the X-FILES MOVIE compared with the series has some advantages, she has found: "Physically, it's less. The hours have been shorter working on the film, and there are longer waits between set-ups, so there's more rest time, and time to do other things. Be a mom, that kind of stuff. But I don't know what keeps me going after four years of the series. I'm under contract, and the knowledge that there's an audience out there that's really devoted to the show, and maybe there are some people who would kill themselves if we went off the air "she says with a laugh. "My character in the film is not really new compared with the series. I think most of the expansion has gone into what we can do in terms of special effects and stuff like that. Scully isn't really doing anything different. There is more action, more stunt stuff. But this is a big version of an episode, which I think is necessary at this point, because we're drawing in not only people who have seen the show before, and are devoted to it, but people who have never seen it before. And if the film were too different than the series, people might be disappointed, or they might have some kind of adverse reaction."

At the beginning of developing the movie, she admits, "I would rather have been working on something different, as opposed to being twelve months a year instead of ten months on this show. But I started to get excited about it as the discussions were getting more intense, and the script was coming along. I'm basically treating it as something in and of itself. And we have [TV] episodes that have nothing to do with something that's happened in previous episodes, or comes after. It kind of feels like one of those."

Anderson has found that over the course of the series, the relationship between Scully and Mulder "has become more equal, and she has become stronger and more independent. And in the film, there's a bit more romance. We find ourselves in a situation that draws us closer together." Even though the movie may have more action than the series, she points out "There are no fight scenes, and I don't think either of us draws a gun for the entire film."

After shooting the movie, the schedule only allows about two days off before they start shooting the series again. Not much time for her to engage in the work she does with NF Inc., which is striving to research and cure neurofibromatosis, a progressive genetic disorder her brother Aaron has. She's also done some work for the Women's Feminist Majority, and Proposition 209. One of her other creative projects was the recent single "Extremis," a collaboration with British techno group HAL. But, she says, it was not the start of a new career: "The singing I did was fun for the time it took, but it was just a one-off, and it's over. I purposely didn't do a lot of print publicity around it, because it wasn't about me putting out a single, it was about me having fun. I was hoping people wouldn't think I was taking myself too seriously. You don't want to hear me sing."

She notes that filming on the Fox lot in Los Angeles is working with "a whole different crew than the one we have for the series. But there is a continuity with Rob [Bowman] and David [Duchovny] which helps. It would be more difficult to make the transition if it were a new director. I actually don't have any major scenes with other characters from the series. But it's an X-FILE, and so everything about it feels familiar. I'm still playing Scully. There haven't been any rude awakenings or awkward moments." And she's continuing to get fan and critical acclaim for playing the FBI agent, having won a 1995 Screen Actors Guild Award, a 1997 Golden Globe, and two Emmy nominations, wining one.

Earlier in life, Anderson had some dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Her family runs a film post-production company and her mother Rosemary is a computer analyst. But Anderson, although she hosted the scientifically and technically oriented BBC TV series "Future Fantastic" says she doesn't have to keep up with everything she talks about: "I pretend. I act. I was a good liar as a child. Scully is very little myself. But I'll keep playing her for as long as it's good, hopefully. As long as the show keeps the audience's attention and the quality remains as it has been.

It does get tiring, but once in a while a new script comes along and there will be new motivation for doing good work. And sometimes I really enjoy playing Scully. Often I do. I like her very much. Right now I'm very tired and my brain's a little dead, so I tend to get very focused and serious, so I'm actually acting more like Scully at this moment. But most of the time, people say 'Oh my God you're so different from her.' So when people ask me [how we compare], I don't know what to say. I'm a goofball, and I'm like a zillionth as intelligent as she is. And she's taller than I am" she ends wryly. Like the tone of the durable series itself.

Tracking down Anderson, 30, for an interview proved a little harder. She seems to spend most of her off-camera time in her trailer in the company of her daughter, Piper.

Before being cast in the role of Dana Scully, Anderson's hair was long and ash-blonde, but the present sleek red bob suits her ivory complexion and bright blue eyes. High-heeled pumps add inches to her petit stature and she wears them as casually as tennis shoes.

Anderson, who looks even younger than she is, hikes her small frame up onto a cement railing on the front porch to begin the interview. While the demands of a hit TV show and her daughter may be overwhelming, she feels lucky. How does she balance both?

"One godsend is that I have an incredible nanny," said Anderson, who is able to have both Piper and nanny on the set with her most of the time. "It has been hard, but if you're ambitious in your career, you can't [not do it]."

And how does she react to the new-found fame? "It's weird. I went to an audition in L.A. I got up in the morning and the first thing I saw was a TV guide with our picture on it," said Anderson.

Actually appreciative of the press coverage, she wants more. "It's pretty neat, but at the same time, there are so many magazines we haven't been a part of and that's always on my mind."

And one last question that must be asked. How about a romance between the two FBI agents? Fans speculate on every look and gesture the partners trade, some hoping for a full-blown romance and others demanding the friendship remain pure.

"If it ever happens, it would be the last show," said Anderson. "Writers are adamant about keeping it platonic."

Both actors say they would like to do feature films, but for now, they must often contend with grueling 16-hour days for 10 months each year. But on this particular Monday evening, the filming schedule is actually light - a wrap-up is expected before midnight.

With that, Duchovny and Anderson rush off, trying their best to make the transition from paranormal, to just plain normal.

Transcript provided by Alfred and appears courtesy of Femme Fatales.

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