Gillian Anderson isn’t afraid to admit that the experience of making “The X-Files” in its heyday was enough to nearly scare her off Dana Scully – and possibly film and television – forever.
Fortunately, time and distance soothed her jangled feelings. Having reprised her role in two “X-Files” films, Andrson has now suited up once more for Fox’s revival of the cult-favorite series.
Immediately after the network’s presentation for the Television Critics Association, Spinoff joined a small group of journalists to hear more from Anderson, including “X-Files” fans, the problem with wigs, and that post-credits scene from “Hannibal.”
What had to be in place for you to want to come back to “The X-Files”?
Gillian Anderson: A lot of it had to be the amount of episodes there were, because I can’t … In my schedule, I’m committed to other things, and I have three children, so it needed to be a small amount of episodes and before last year [broadcast] networks were barely even able to have that conversation about allowing things to be less than 13 minimum. It really wasn’t until that could happen I could even think about it.
Did it the help for you to get away for a while?
I’m sure it did, yes. When I ended the series I didn’t know if I could be on a set again, it was nine seasons and I was exhausted. Everything becomes really kind of intense and incestuous. […] The first thing I wanted to do was theater, and I went to London to do that, then realized this is where I want to be.
Can you talk about Scully’s son and how it affects her in these episodes?
It affects her a lot. It’s a big conversation through the series, and William is very present through these episodes, and it’s emotional for her. So we get to hear a lot about William.
Did you shoot it in LA?
No, we shot in Vancouver.
So the frizzy hair was a problem again?
No, because I wore a wig! And apparently the dead person who owned the hair didn’t have that issue – I don’t know if she was dead, she may have just cut it off. … Wigs are not nice. If you have a choice it would be to dye all the time because they have to be really tight, and it’s a bit like wearing a vice for 17 hours. You get used to it, but you start the first couple of weeks with headaches. But it molds to your head and you get used to it. It feels fake, so I felt a bit fake in the beginning, but it became a part of how Scully now felt.
What do fans tell you when they encounter you these days?
Any fan who has ever walked up to me, every day of my life, no matter what country I am in, up until now, have said, “When is the next movie coming? Is there ever going to be another movie?” And now it’s, “I’m so excited about the new series!” It’s the same thing, but there’s more enthusiasm.
With the blessing of hindsight, what would you tell pre-Dana Scully Gillian?
“Don’t do iiiiit!” No – I don’t know. Just relax, and hang in there. I’d barely had a job before I started the series and I was so … it was really intense. Even before anybody started paying attention to us in the press and everything, just the doing of it and the lines, and I think if I could have whispered in my ear back then I would have just said, “Relax, it will all be OK.”
That scene in the final “Hannibal” episode with the serving of the leg prompted were some interesting fan theories —
Bryan [Fuller] and I have talked about what the possible meanings of it might be. He is very interested in people’s reaction and the fact it’s so broad and that everyone had a different take on what it meant. I think that there’s just an enjoyment in that fact and that there is a huge question mark. And obviously great place to lead the fourth [season] if there were to be any other incarnations.
“The X-Files” returns Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.