In 2016, The X-Files’ Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will return to the small screen, delighting many fans—including Gillian Anderson. The actor who inspired innumerable little girls to think about forensic science is grateful to be back in her old F.B.I. suits and sensible pumps.
In a chat with New York Magazine’s Gaby Wood, Anderson admits that she personally believes in ghosts, and possesses a genuine enthusiasm for returning to her old alien-filled stomping grounds in a “post-9/11” age.
“It was on the one hand obviously familiar territory,” Anderson said about the mini-series, “and on the other hand it felt like it was a completely foreign land. Things have changed so much since we did it—politically. I mean, the climate is such that it makes it possible. The show has always had a political element to it—we often speak about the government being dishonest.”
During the X-Files’s original five seasons, Scully transforms from a trusting, by-the-book F.B.I. agent to actually believing—thanks in part to Mulder—that there is a cover-up to hide the existence of extraterrestrials. But once George W. Bush became president, theorizes Anderson, the show’s central theme of government conspiracies became less fashionable as the political climate changed. The state overreaching its boundaries, a common theme on the show, began visibly happening with legislation like the Patriot Act, and few wanted to talk about it.
For fans like me, the early X-Files were camp and cheesy—but believable if you wanted to believe. For Anderson, it’s like looking back on her adolescence.
“We were so young! What’s interesting is that I kind of knew that at the time,” Anderson admits with a laugh. “I was as inexperienced as Scully was. I didn’t feel grown up in my body.”
But as the show was renewed repeatedly for ten seasons, Anderson developed a rhythm for playing Scully and working with Duchovny as a castmate, which was interesting. Rumors swirled that the pair were lovers, or hated each other; perhaps the truth was inflated to keep viewers turned in, but Anderson skirts whatever tension (sexual or otherwise) she and David Duchovny, the actor who plays Mulder, might’ve had in the past.
“We’re probably closer today than we’ve ever been,” Anderson told me. “It’s just the two of us that have had this particular unique experience. I don’t think that was necessarily important enough an element to draw us together [but] I think we’re old enough to realize that there’s value in our staying onside and supporting each other.”
As for the new miniseries that began filming in Vancouver in June, the storyline reappears in the post-9/11 present, a “heavily surveilled America,” writes Wood. “Dana Scully has retired from the FBI and become a successful surgeon; Mulder, also having departed the agency, appears to be deep into a midlife crisis. She is sleek and competent; he is falling apart.” But, of course, a conspiracist brings the pair back together to solve a mystery.
For what it’s worth, as a fan who believes great things should be left alone after their first run, Anderson’s enthusiasm for returning to The X-Files is infectious, and I’m excited to give Spooky Mulder and Practical Scully another chance.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.