Gillian Anderson on CBC's Midday

The following is a transcript of an interview with Gillian Anderson which took place on the CBC TV show Midday on April 13, 1995. It originally appeared in the newsgroup, posted by (Ash). I went through it later and made some minor corrections while listening to the interview, which I also taped. You can see the video by clicking here. -- MQ
[At the beginning of the program we see an excerpt from The X-Files main title.]

Brent Bambury: Don't worry, you didn't forget to set the VCR. That's the opening to The X-Files, which is, I think, the hottest show on television right now, present company excluded (indicating his co-host Tina Srebotnjak, who laughs). It's a cross between the FBI and any UFO program. Quite an interesting blend, and we'll meet the star of The X-Files, Gillian Anderson, today on Midday.

[About 20 minutes into the show, there is a scene from "Dod Kalm" where Scully and Mulder confer on the theory of free radicals causing aging. They're already affected by the premature aging process.]

Tina Srebotnjak: Well, what's going on there? That's a scene from The X-Files, Brent's favorite show, the sleeper hit series which is being called "The Twilight Zone of the 90's", I guess. Shot in Vancouver, The X-Files has grown from a loyal cult following of Internet junkies, to a worldwide audience. Brent will talk to actress Gillian Anderson who plays Dana Scully -- you just saw her there -- in a minute, but first here's a taste of the program.

[Scene from the morgue at Quantico from "Sleepless" where Scully explains to Mulder about her idea that the corpse believed that it was burning despite lack of primary cause (a fire). Krychek can be seen in the background but does not speak. This clip evolves into a close-up of Scully. Voice-over begins while following scenes play: "Dod Kalm" where Mulder points out location of disappearing ships on map back at their office; "Humbug" where Mulder sees the Conundrum on his fishing expedition.; "Dod Kalm" where Mulder and Scully discover the dead crew of the vessel.]

TS: The X-Files is an unconventional branch of the FBI and it investigates strange disappearances and bizarre murders. Its leader, Agent Fox Mulder trusts no one. He believes in alien abductions and government conspiracies. His partner, Agent Dana Scully, is a forensic pathologist who thinks that every case can be explained through science. But when the chief suspect in a series of brutal killings is the Fiji Mermaid, Scully's not sure what to believe....

[Voice-over ends as the scene from "Humbug" begins where Mulder and Scully explain their interest in the Fiji Mermaid to the town Sheriff and Scully indicates Mulder when she responds to the Sheriff's disbelief, by quoting Barnum's saying "You recall what Barnum said about suckers?"]

BB: "There's one born every minute," wasn't it? [addresses viewers] Joining us now from Vancouver on the set of the creepiest show in television is Gillian Anderson, Agent Scully of The X-Files. Hi, Gillian.

[GA smiles, looks around at her locale. It is probably a basement somewhere, with a large boiler-like door in background. She is sitting on a folding director's chair in the foreground. She is in a typical Scully suit with dark colours.]

GA: Hi there.

BB: Gillian, when this show first hit the airwaves, it didn't look like it was going to last the season. [GA can be heard giggling a bit and is seen smiling] Did you have confidence that it was going to work?

GA: You know, at the time, I had no idea what was going on. I was basically here, just doing what was put right in front of my nose, and I had no concept or idea of how long it would run or -- I don't think at the time that I really even cared. I had a job, and somebody wanted me to act and I was happy with that, so I don't think I thought about it that much.

BB: Well there are two things I think make The X-Files a success. One is the writing, which I think is terrific and the other the characters that you and your partner play in this; and I'd like to know how you decided to make Scully and Mulder so deadpan. What was behind that? What kind of conversations did you have to come up with that "X-Files look" and that Scully and Mulder deadpan, quiet, whispered conversations; [GA can be heard laughing again] that way of dealing with things in the program?

GA: I'm not sure how to take that. [still smiling broadly]

BB: It's a compliment. It really is!

GA: Thank you. I don't know how it happened. I think a lot of it comes through in the scripts. Chris Carter, from the beginning, has had a very strong perception of who these characters are, and he has a very specific formula that he wants us to keep to...

BB: Yeah...

GA: ... and he never really talked about a deadpan nature between the two of us and David and I certainly never had discussions about that specifically...

BB: But is that a way of not overplaying the "Gee whiz, it's aliens" thing?

GA: I guess so, I guess it was both of our..., you know, as we were exploring our characters, exploring the feel and the mood of the show as it was first starting, we kind of settled into that rhythm. I guess in knowing that we would have to investigate and react to so many different, unbelievable situations, that we kind of settled into this.... We didn't want to take it too far all the time. And I don't think that it was a conscious thing that happened. I think we just ... you know, with feeling the mood of the show and how the characters were written, and the fact that we're exhausted half the time [laughs slightly here], it just kind of came out that way.

BB: Now, at the beginning, before they cast you, didn't they have in mind some sex bomb, like a Sharon Stone part, or something like that? [Looks off camera now as if he's wondering if he's goofed.]

GA: [responds in a Southern drawl] Somethin' like thaat.... [still smiling]

BB: [chuckles] What makes you think they decided to go with you instead?

GA: I think it was, I guess, Chris Carter. When I actually first went into the audition, I haven't actually talked about this, I borrowed -- I didn't have any money, I didn't have any clothes, other than "vintage stuff" and I borrowed a suit from a friend of mine. I don't know if she was bigger than me but she looked very good in oversized suits and clothes, so I walked into the first audition for The X-Files in a very oversized suit and looked somewhat "frumpy" in that way. So that's how the Fox executives first saw me and it was hinted to me that I come in with a *little bit* of a shorter skirt and something a little bit more form-fitting, and I think I kinda took a middle ground there. But I think ultimately it was Chris Carter who felt that I was speaking to the character that he had written and he really pushed for me to have the role.

BB: And she is... Scully is a complex character. She understands a lot of scientific theory, she has a mind that works in extrapolating ways.

GA: [self-deprecating laugh] She's much more intelligent than I am.

BB: Oh, I doubt that. But don't you think that she's a great role model for young girls?

GA: Oh absolutely. I think it was pretty early on that I began to get a hint that young girls, and actually girls of all ages, were considering Scully as a role model. And I just... I really enjoyed that and I thought that it was probably one of the most wonderful things that can happen, in that Scully is very intelligent, she went ahead with her education, she has a very moral mindframe, she's honest, she's in pursuit of justice... you know ... all these very positive, very strong elements and qualities in a female. And so I was very delighted to hear that women were responding to those attributes.

BB: Now I hate to ask this question but I know that a lot of people are wondering about it: Will Scully and Mulder cross that professional line and become romantically involved?

GA: I've been asked that question before and I've heard Chris respond to the question and the fact is that Mulder and Scully are two very dedicated people who are obsessed with their work. And in that, come the stories, and the episodes that we shoot every week. And were we to veer away from the spine and the true line of the episodes which is about a professional relationship, it would tip the balance in an unfortunate direction, I think.

BB: But Scully is a skeptic, but in real life you're kind of a believer aren't you? That's what they're saying?

GA: Yeah. More or less.

BB: Tell me about what happened in your house in Vancouver.

GA: Oh God.....

[Both chuckle]

GA: [laughs again] This has come back to haunt me....

BB: Sure has.

GA: Nothing! It was actually blown into something a lot bigger than it was. It was just a feeling that I had when we first moved in, within the first couple of weeks that we moved into this house, I just started having a feeling that... it was just a strange feeling that I had, that someone was literally sitting on my shoulder. I talked about it with my husband a few times and I talked about it with some people at work, and somebody recommended that I have a Native American Indian come in and, uh, what's the word?

BB: Exorcise?

GA: No, that's not the word.

BB: Cleanse. Cleanse?

GA: Yeah, I guess "cleanse" is one of the words. Basically cleanse the house of anything that might be lingering from the past.

BB: And did it work?

GA: It seemed to. It seemed to work. I didn't have that feeling anymore afterwards.

BB: Well it's the kind of feeling that maybe millions of people have after they watch The X-Files, Gillian. I'd really like to thank you for talking to us today.

GA: Thank you.

BB: And thank you for showing us what television can be.

GA: Thank you very much, I'll spread that around the crew.

BB: All right, take care.

GA: Thank you. Bye Bye.

BB: [almost an afterthought] Trust no one.

GA: [off screen] OK! Bye!

TS: I guess it's time I started watching this program.

BB: It's a marvelously done program. It's so well acted and written, it doesn't really matter how crazy the scripts are, and they get pretty crazy...

TS: OK, I'll watch it!


* The X-Files Corner.