Fresh from wrapping filming of “The X-Files” revival, Gillian Anderson appeared at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto to discuss reprising her role as Dana Scully, the end of “Hannibal,” and strong female characters.
Asked by a die-hard “X-Files” fan whether she thinks Agent Scully was actually abducted on the cult sci-fi drama or whether the government was behind her disappearance, Anderson replied, “Could she have been abducted by the government?”
“That’s all I’m going to say,” continued the actress, who played the skeptical Scully on all but four episodes of “The X-Files.” “We might find out … in Season 10. Might. A little bit.”
That long-awaited 10th season, which premieres Jan. 24 on Fox – nearly 14 years after the end of the original series – reunites Anderson with co-stars David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi and Annabeth Gish, and “X-Files” creator Chris Carter. Although few details have been revealed, we do know the six-episode miniseries involves Mulder and Scully investigating a possible alien abductee (Annet Mahendru of “The Americans”) at the behest of a conservative talk-show host played by Joel McHale. And, somehow, the fan-favorite Lone Gunmen return.
Another fan stepped up to say, “’The X-Files’ started airing when I was 13, and it was the first time there was a strong, independent, intellectual woman – “
“In the entire universe,” Anderson interrupted, sending the crowd into a frenzy of laughter.
The fan then continued, explaining how Scully inspired her to study science and led her to become the molecular biologist she is now.
“Hot damn. Go, girl!” Anderson exclaimed. “Congratulations! I bet you get paid a shit load for that.”
Regarding the scientific accuracy of the show, Anderson joked, “It’s just because my education was so good that they always just came to me. They’d say, ‘Gillian, is this right?’ I’m kidding. … I always get picked to play these strong, independent, smart female characters, but my brain is very small. Other things are big, but my brain is small.”
When a young girl asked about her impact as a strong woman on television, Anderson replied, “I feel pretty cool about it, actually. In 1993, there weren’t really any strong, independent female characters on television. I’m serious. There was ‘Baywatch.’ There weren’t many then, and there are a lot now. I think Scully was the first to be that character, and I think women appreciated that. It started a trend, so I feel very proud and grateful to be one of the first on television.”
With only months until “The X-Files” revival, many fans were eager to hear about Anderson’s reaction to the series’ return, and what they can expect to see in January.
“They came to me and said they were thinking about [bringing ‘X-Files’ back], and I thought, ‘This is a bad idea,’” Anderson joked. “It is not [one continuous story]. It is exactly what you used to get, so there’s a couple of comedic episodes, a couple ‘monster-of-the-week’ episodes, and a couple mythological ones.”
“When I watched the first episode, my reaction was, ‘Man, is this enough?’” she continued. “And then the expert in all things, Simon Pegg, said to me, ‘What they want is exactly what they got to begin with. It’s like comfort food. They want what you originally gave them and that will be enough.’ And that’s what you’re going to get. Hopefully, you guys will be happy, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Another fan asked about Anderson’s favorite “X-Files” episode, “Bad Blood,” and whether she thought Taylor Swift’s song was worthy of the same title. Anderson was unfamiliar with the song, which led to a group of girls singing the chorus at the top of their lungs. “That was good! But no,” Anderson laughed. “And that’s because it just wouldn’t be appropriate for the episode.”
Written by future “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, the humorous fifth-season episode finds the two FBI agents recounting wildly different versions of the events that led to Mulder shooting a young man he believed to be a vampire. Luke Wilson played a Texas sheriff whom Scully found harming, but Mulder remembered as a buck-toothed bumpkin.
“So I watched the episode recently,” Anderson told the crowd. “I wanted to show my kids an episode that was remotely appropriate in any way, shape or form. So I thought it would be good. Nightmares for a fucking week. … I literally tormented them. They are not a fan of ‘X-Files’ now. They will be 21 by the time they watch the series again. Completely backfired. Still my favorite episode, though. I mean, fucking Luke Wilson!”
The relationship between Hannibal and Anderson’s character Bedelia on the recently canceled NBC thriller is so complex, and fans wanted to know how the actress viewed the duo.
“They were an electric couple,” she explained. “It was duplicitous, it is disturbing. There’s a great deal of fear, and attraction, and sensuality. … I would imagine that they probably had separate bedrooms. The intimacy they had, though dangerous, it filled in so many of the blanks, and the question marks, in the fact that she stayed and he let her stay.”
When someone asked about the final scene of “Hannibal,” Anderson tried to gauge what the audience thought happened, and then gave some information.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” she said, “the fork was not to eat the leg. But hopefully, I hear they are investigating other ways to be seen.”
The panel ended with Anderson auctioning off an exclusive “X-Files” hat signed by her, Duchovny and Carter for $1,000. The proceeds were donated to a charity to be selected by Anderson and the winner.