Nov. 6, 1999
Gillian Suits Up For Scully
For Season 7: Scully Loosens Up
By Kate O'Hare
"Today I do a major fight scene, which should be fun, big-time fight scene, kick somebody's a--"! That's Gillian Anderson talking on the phone, taking a break from filming "The X-Files" to place a call. "We got some good episodes under our belt," she says.
Scully, slugging someone? Absolutely. Says Anderson, "The last thing I said was, 'I'd like a really good fight scene,' and I'm not even sure anybody was listening. But today I've got a really good fight scene." about her character, "The X-Files" finally makes its seventh-season bow on Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. (Eastern) on Fox, with an episode called "The Sixth Extinction," a continuation of last season's finale, "Biogenesis." The storyline wraps up on Nov. 14 with "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati." But just because the show hasn't been airing new episodes doesn't mean it hasn't been in the news.
In an August lawsuit, that seems in keeping with the "X-Files" theme of conspiracy and secrets, Anderson's co-star, David Duchovny (a.k.a. FBI Agent Fox Mulder) claimed that 20th Century Fox Film Corp., which produces the show, reduced potential profits by selling "The X-Files" at below-market rates to its affiliates and its cable network, FX. Duchovny - who has a share in the show's profits - further claimed that "X-Files" creator Chris Carter conspired with the studio to keep mum about the syndication deal.
Not long after this suit, Steven Bochco, the creator of "NYPD Blue" - another 20th Century Fox production, which also airs in syndication and on FX - filed a suit that made similar claims about the studio's selling practices.
"It hasn't affected (the mood on the set) at all," says Anderson, who is not involved in the lawsuit. "It's very, very separate, and nobody talks about it. We just show up, and we do the work."
These events coincided with ongoing debate over whether or not this is the final season of "The X-Files." Both Duchovny's and Carter's contracts run out at the end of this year; Anderson's reportedly goes for another year, but "it's complicated," she says.
While Carter has not completely closed the door on an eighth season of "X" - and the possibility of more feature films remains alive - the speculation has had its effect. "It is strange, not knowing," says Anderson. "The big fact is that David's not interested in coming back, and Chris' contract is up, and I'm spent, so it seems like the wisest thing for us to do would be to stop while we're ahead. "But it is weird. It's weird because it would be nice to know whether it's time to start mourning. It's hard to allow the emotional aspect of it to kick into gear when there is an aspect of up-in-the-air-ness."
Earlier this fall, a rumor, begun by news from a tipster published at the Ain't It Cool News website, stated that Irish actor Stephen Rea would be brought in before season's end in a new role, perhaps to be spun off into a series. Rea is best known to American audiences as the IRA man who falls for a transvestite in "The Crying Game"; he also starred in this summer's May-December romance "Guinevere." "I did hear the thing about Stephen Rea," says Anderson. "Apparently that's not going to work out, though. It looked like it might be a possibility, but I don't think it's going to happen."
But news, rumors and lawsuits aside, Anderson - the lone Emmy nominee from "The X-Files" this past season - spent her summer taking a break from Scully in a big way. She played the starring role in "The House of Mirth," based on the 1905 novel by Edith Wharton, who also penned "The Age of Innocence." Anderson plays Lily Bart, a social-climbing orphan in turn-of-the-last-century New York, who may lose her true love (Eric Stoltz) in her quest for wealth and social position.
Filmed in and around Glasgow, Scotland, and due to be released next year, the film also stars Dan Aykroyd, Terry Kinney ("Oz"), Anthony LaPaglia ("Murder One," "Summer of Sam"), Laura Linney ("Tales of the City"), Johdi May ("Masterpiece Theatre: The Aristocrats," "The Last of the Mohicans") and Elizabeth McGovern, seen most recently in A&E's "Scarlet Pimpernel" movies.
"The project itself and the character were so unbelievably challenging," says Anderson, "in a wonderful and creative way. Whenever I do something else, just in the few things I've done, there's always a period of time before I feel that the character has solidified in me, where I'm so terrified of doing anything that's even remotely Scully, any kind of mannerism or look or move."
While it helped to trade in Scully's tailored business suits for Lily Bart's period costumes, Anderson says that's not all it takes. "Costumes are very important for me, but it's got to feel that way from the inside out, too." Does she think her "X" fans will be interested in seeing her in such a different setting? "I have no idea. I hope so. I hope that it will attract Wharton fans, and I hope that it attracts (the fans of the other actors). I hope their fans will come, and people just interested in seeing a really good, hopefully strong, beautiful film."
Speaking of costumes, after turning out in a ravishing, long-skirted, pale suit in the season finale (not the most practical wear, though, for walks down the beach on the coast of Africa to find alien artifacts in the sand), Anderson isn't especially happy with how she looks in "The Sixth Extinction." "We went back to Africa, and I got these linen pants, which I hated. It's one of those things where you're going through tons of stuff trying to find something, and you settle on something, but it's God-knows-what time of the morning. Then you realize on the first day of shooting that you actually have to wear it for the whole episode, and it's like, 'What was I thinking?' "That's what happened in the season opener. It was impossible, very unattractive outfit. But things happen."
Transcript appears courtesy of UltimateTV.com.