Scully no more: Gillian Anderson has had enough of The X-Files
Actress has played FBI special agent Dana Scully since the television series began in 1993, and says after the latest season beginning in March she will be taking on new roles and challenges
The truth is out there regarding the future of The X-Files, and it is not good for fans of the Fox show. Unless aliens kidnap Gillian Anderson and probe her into changing her mind, the current batch of 10 new episodes will be her last playing Dana Scully.
Back in October when Anderson suggested at the New York Comic Con this would be her last season, there was scepticism. Both Anderson and co-star David Duchovny had already come back for one short season of the series and were headed toward making another. Anderson has become so identified with the role the idea of her leaving seemed as realistic as a vampire, werewolf and a blood-sucking chupacabra walking into a bar.
It’s time to accept the truth. When the last of the 10 episodes in this latest season airs in March, Anderson will be moving on to other roles.
“It’s just that there’s lots of things that I want to do in my life and in my career, and it’s been an extraordinary opportunity and an extraordinary character, and I am hugely grateful. But there’s lots of other stuff I want to do, and I don’t really want to be tied down to months and months of doing any particular one thing that I feel like I’ve done,” Anderson says. “I like to be challenged as an actor, and I like to do many, many different characters, and that’s why I got into the business.
“I’ve done this now for decades, and it’s time for me to hang up Scully’s hat. It just is. The next couple years are quite full, and there’s lots of different things that I want to do and I’m being asked to do, and I want to be able to explore them without being tied to a series. It’s really quite simple.”
That other stuff Anderson wants to do started after the original run of The X-Files came to an end. Since then, she’s starred in Hannibal, The Fall, American Gods, Crisis and War & Peace. Anderson has two movies, including Andorra, scheduled to be released this year.
Deciding to leave the world of the strange and supernatural didn’t just hit Anderson the day before filming of the current season started. Anderson went into the previous six-episode season fully believing that would be the end.
The problem was the six episodes didn’t feel to her like the right way to leave the show. As soon as the discussion of making another season of 10 episodes was floated, Anderson knew that would be the way to finish her long run as Scully.
When she was asked to do another season, Anderson agreed, but it never occurred to her or was it discussed or suggested this 10 would be the start of a new series.
“So I said, ‘Yes, I will do this.’ But in my mind, it had always been that it would just be one season. So when it was brought up, that was new information to me, or my reaction to it was, like, ‘What are you talking about? This is the season that I have agreed to do’,” Anderson says.
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She’s been playing the character since The X-Files debuted on Fox in 1993. The Illinois native was 25 at the time, and her credits were extremely limited. Fans immediately locked on to the chemistry between Scully and Mulder (Duchovny), and the role became the defining job in her acting career.
Anderson had no idea what to expect when she signed on to the series. She quickly learned what it meant to be on a series as popular as The X-Files.
“It was all such a big whirlwind. At the time that we became as popular as we became, it was intense for a period of time. I feel like every time I’m asked to reflect, I have a completely different and new perspective on what it was and what it meant and a new understanding of what it might have meant for other people,” Anderson says. “And this year, I feel like for the first time I truly understood how special and unique the dynamic was between Mulder and Scully. It’s taken me a while.
“I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for the uniqueness of what people always ask me about and referred to, ‘What about your chemistry’ and ‘You got chemistry’. It’s special. I feel like my feelings about it have changed drastically over the years. But I’m so grateful. Some actors get stuck with characters that they could take or leave or they’re not that crazy about. To have the opportunity to play somebody as extraordinary a character, as iconic a character as Scully and to be in this duo is a very special thing, indeed.”
The love fans have shown to the character is one reason series creator Chris Carter and Fox have both stated they would not want to make any additional episodes of The X-Files without Anderson. That means Duchovny will have to say farewell to Mulder.
Duchovny jokes he’s tried to say goodbye to Mulder many times and failed. Anderson points out Duchovny left the series after the eighth season (appearing in only two episodes of season nine). Instead of the show ending, Robert Patrick stepped in to take on the X-Files duties.
“They all went, and they did the show without me. So how do you like that?” Duchovny says. “I’m good. I’m good either way. I’m good with this being the end. I’m good with it not being the end. You know, as I said, I can’t see the future. I don’t know. Whatever comes across my desk, I take a look at.”
Anderson left the character behind for 14 years when Fox cancelled the series in 2002. But, that wasn’t the end as Fox brought the show back for that six-episode season in 2016. And, Anderson has played Scully in movie versions of the TV show. That could be seen as a sign that in a decade or so, Anderson could have a change of heart.
But don’t count on it.
“No. No. This is it for me. I’m really serious. I have so much respect for these guys, and I have respect for Scully, and I have respect for David, and it’s really sad. But I’m finished, and that’s the end of that,” Anderson says.