Fans know that although Gillian Anderson plays strong, thoughtful and introverted very well, she’s actually, in real life, quite extroverted. It was that tendency that was most on display when Anderson took the stage at Fan Expo Sunday afternoon for a Q&A that would cover equal parts X-Files lore and her legacy and inspiration as Special Agent Dana Scully on the seminal sci-fi show. Of course there were also a few tidbits about the upcoming reprise of the X-Files too, in the upcoming limited series return of the show this January.
Anderson gave a breakdown of the six episodes saying the there were going to be two mythological episodes, two monster of the week episodes, and two that will showcase the more comical side of the show.
“We were at the forefront of new era in TV back then,” said Anderson of the show’s original run. “It was the first TV show to have that much money on the screen, and we wondered did that mean what was expected was for us was to come back and match that with the new version of what TV should be today.
“The expert in all things, Simon Pegg, said to me what they want is what they got from the show in the beginning,” she continued. “It’s comfort food, and that’s what you’re going to get in all respects. Hopefully you guys will be happy with it.”
Any specifics? Well, when one fan asked whether she thought Scully was really abducted by aliens or the government in season 2, Anderson answered by saying, “She had been abducted by the government,” before shrugging and adding, “We might find out in season 10. Might.”
The new season came together pretty quick earlier this year, so did that mean everyone was eager to get onboard with more X-Files tales? “It was kind of like they were thinking about it and my reaction was ‘What a bad idea,’” she said. Her concern was not wanting to be bound to doing 22 episodes of a network series again considering that she already had two TV shows – Hannibal and The Fall – and is currently living in the U.K.
“In my current life, it’s not a doable thing,” she said. “I was doing a lot of TV at the time and I like to shake it up. But it’s a whole new idea for networks to do short stacks, and it wasn’t until they did that that David [Duchovny] or I could commit to that.”
Commitment was never a problem for Anderson, she was a part of The X-Files from beginning to end. She was an unknown actress when she auditioned for Scully in 1993, and she remembered some pretty surprising details about the day The X-Files came into her life. “I remember I was in flannel pyjamas when I read the episode, and the walls were lime green. Not my choice,” she recalled.
She was also up against other actresses that later enjoyed their own success on TV, albeit quite differently. Anderson said that she was auditioning for Scully before network brass with Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) and Jill Hennessy (Crossing Jordan, Law & Order). Apparently, as the story goes, “[creator] Chris [Carter] wanted me from the first day for Scully and the network did not,” she said. But at the final audition, the casting agent pulled her aside and told her she had the part, but not before she offered Hennessy what ended up being a very awkward drive back to her hotel.
One fan, a microbiologist by trade, said Scully was the reason she started studying science. “They hire very, very smart people for that kind of stuff,” she said of her own science acumen. “There’s a lot to do with hospitals in season 10, so there’s a lot of medical jargon, and a lot of doctors there to tell us what the heck we are doing.”
Several women that asked questions wanted to ask Anderson about what become known as “the Scully effect,” that is Scully being an inspirational figure that taught young women that they too could be strong, smart and independent.
“It’s not me it was Chris Carter that had the foresight and the genius to come up with this character when there was such a need for it,” Anderson said humbly. “I often get hired to play either the boss or the smart woman, but my brain is very small,” she joked.
The fans persisted in their gratitude for Anderson’s portrayal, and she did end up agreeing that she might have played her part. “In the olden days, when all this started, there weren’t any and I’m serious. There was Baywatch,” she noted. “I feel proud and grateful and have since then been cast as sometimes even stronger and more independent women than Scully was.”
“I have to imagine that at some point someone else would have done it along the way and saw the gap and the need, but I can definitely see the trajectory there,” she added in response to a question about the connection between Scully and her The Fall character DSI Stella Gibson. “[Fall creator] Alan Cubitt wrote that with me in mind, and if I hadn’t done the The X-Files, he wouldn’t have done that.”
Before ending the Q&A with the auction of a limited edition X-Files production hat signed by herself, Duchovny and Carter, Anderson the actress did address her latest role on The Fall. One fan wanted to know if Anderson thought that Stella and Scully would be good partners.
“I think that maybe Stella would have a few things to teach Scully about drinking,” she joked before clarifying whether the fan meant partners in crime fighting or life partners. “They actually might make good life partners,” Anderson said “I’d like to see someone do an after dark sketch about Stella and Scully living together.”
Fan fiction writers are probably working on that as we speak.