Gillian Anderson reveals how changes have affected ‘The X-Files’

January 2, 2018

by Carla Hay

Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson at 2017 New York Comic Con in New York City (Photo by Carla Hay)


The next mind-bending chapter of “The X-Files” is a thrilling, 10-episode event series from creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson re-inhabiting their roles as iconic FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Mitch Pileggi also returns as FBI assistant director Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully’s boss, who walks a fine line between loyalty to these investigators and accountability to his superiors.

This marks the momentous return of the Emmy-winning pop-culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history. In the U.S., “The X-Files” revival (the show’s 11th season) premieres on Fox on January 3, 2018. The upcoming event series will encompass a mixture of stand-alone episodes and those that further the original show’s seminal mythology. Picking up after the last event series’ cliffhanger, Mulder and Scully learn that they aren’t the only ones desperately searching for their long-lost son, William. The very fate of the world may depend on it.

“The X-Files” originally premiered in September 1993. Over the course of its original nine-season run, the influential series went from breakout sci-fi favorite to massive global hit, and became one of the most successful television dramas of all time. The show—which earned 16 Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes and a Peabody Award—follows FBI special agents Scully and Mulder as they investigate unexplained cases—“X-Files”—for which the only answers involve paranormal phenomena. The show was revived for a 10th season, which aired in 2016. The all-new episodes for 2018 will feature appearances by guest stars, including Joel McHale, Lauren Ambrose, Haley Joel Osment and Robbie Amell. This what Anderson said in a roundtable interview that he did with me and other journalists at 2017 New York Comic Con.

Scully has changed so much since the first season of “The X-Files.” If you could give Scully from that season any advice, what would it be?

“Relax! Nothing is that important to get your knickers in a twist about.”

Do you feel Scully has lightened up?

I think she’s more relaxed than she used to be, potentially. I think it’s something that happens with age, in general. I think maybe because they were off the X-Files for a whole, and she got some time off, she’s just relaxed her grip on things.

How is any humor in “The X-Files” different this time around?

Whenever you have a [screenwriter] Darin Morgan episode, there’s a pretty sharp left turn that happens. We’ve definitely got one of those, and it’s funny. I don’t think the humor is different. I think it fits in the realm of what’s expected of us and what we’ve always done. I don’t think it would get as far as the shooting script if it was completely uncharacteristic.

When is the Season 10 cliffhanger addressed in Season 11?

It’s approached immediately. The human race still exists. Mulder and Scully are still alive and still working on the X-Files. I’m still a mortal. How we get there is the question mark I can’t answer.

William reportedly plays a big role in Season 11. Can you talk about that?

I’m very excited. It was nice to meet our son. He does show up. It’s nice to have a face to the child that we always talk about.

You’ve publicly said that you want female writers and directors involved in “The X-Files”? How do you think female writers and directors will affect how the stories are told?

The fact is that Scully was created by a man, and I would say that Chris [Carter] did right by women in creating Scully. I haven’t read one of the [female-written] scripts yet, so I don’t know how that will translate, in terms of Scully, but I am interested in other voices pitching in for the storyline.

How has today’s political climate and the proliferation of “fake news” conspiracy theories affected “The X-Files”?

I don’t know if it has. It’s hard to parody a parody. There’s not much we can do that hasn’t’ already been done. All bets are off. On the one hand, it’s exciting. On the other hand, it’s tedious.

An interesting challenge for the writers is to create something that is poignant and has something to say that doesn’t have to be derivative. It’s a challenge more for them than for me.

In the past, you’ve said there were times that you didn’t enjoy working on “The X-Files.” How do you feel about working on “The X-Files” now?

I think before, we were trying to do 24 episodes in a year. And for a show that’s predominantly led by two characters, that’s pretty intense. I certainly couldn’t do that today. This is nothing compared to that.

There have been a couple of production [crew member] deaths recently, and I think production is much more mindful of the hours that are being worked on by the crew, and that has an impact on everything and everyone, especially when you travel a lot and are on location. It feels like a kinder, gentler version of what we used to do. That in and of itself makes it more manageable. I think we’re appreciative and having fun and enjoying each other and not taking it too seriously, but hopefully taking it seriously enough that we’re doing good work. And hopefully, the fans will feel rewarded.

Is there an aspect of Scully’s personality that you really enjoy playing?

There is, but I don’t know exactly what to call it. It’s the “eyeroll” element of her.

Is there any element of Scully’s personality that you’ve discovered that isn’t written in the “X-Files” scripts?

I think one of the things that has been interesting to figure out is how a person ages. It’s one thing to do that in a condensed scenario, where you play a character in a biopic, and you go through hair and makeup, and you’re 20 years older.

But it feels different somehow … because I don’t look a lot like I did back then. My facial features are quite different. My face is much narrower, and obviously I’ve aged. So figuring out what elements of her personality are appropriate in a mature woman, it’s been an interesting question to answer.

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