Gillian Anderson & David Duchovny (The X-Files')
'Buckle Up ... Here We Go Again!'
On Sunday, the FBI's Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will once again start taking on unsolved cases of the paranormal kind. That's right: 'The X-Files' is back.
Actors Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are reprising their roles of Scully and Mulder in six new episodes. The show is being revived under the helm of its original creator, Chris Carter. Duchovny and Anderson tell NPR's Scott Simon how their characters have changed in the years between the original X-Files and this reboot.
I sat down with both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny at a recent round table press conference and first asked the burning question on all our minds - Why is it a good time now for an X-Files reboot? Gillian Anderson: "I think it's the right time in terms of political climate. But I also think that people are ready for this. And the only way that David and I were able to make it happen was if it was going to be in a short amount of episodes, and networks have only just in the past couple of years become willing and able to do shorter stacks."
David Duchovny: "When the show was ending back in the early 2000s, it was right after Sept. 11 and I do believe that, even though that's still ripe for conspiracies, I think it was all too real at that point. And now, you know, somewhat removed from that, I think in a way we're back to a time where there's a lot of speculation over world events. But I think that's just in human nature to be drawn to conspiracies. People want answers. Sometimes things happen without a reason; sometimes chaos happens — that's not satisfying to people. People want a villain. They want a reason; they want a cabal; they want a conspiracy."
What is Mulder like now, years after he and Scully parted ways? Duchovny: He's not in the FBI; he's not working; he's not gainfully employed. All his leads seem to have dried up; whatever he once believed seems to have been proved false. And he's a man without a mission, also without Scully. So you know, where we find him is where you want to start ... a journey, which is near or at the bottom."
What is Scully like now? Anderson: "I think she has refocused herself and her wants and her desires. She is tired of hearing the same things over and over again and chasing things that never seem to pan out or materialize. And she has seen Mulder become extremely impassioned and risk his life and risk their lives and I think that she's decided that she can't do that anymore."
"And even though she's kind of getting on with getting on, there's a certain sadness there. When we used to see Scully in her apartment and she was reading Breakfast at Tiffany's or whatever, there was a sense that she was OK, that she was fine with her alone time. ... You kind of get the sense from her now that as she goes about her life that there is a hole there. And so I think there's a certain sadness."
What was it like to revisit the role of Mulder all these years later? Duchovny: "It's daunting at first, but then when Gillian and I kind of started working together just on that first day, it's really something that is kind of unspoken and unconscious and intuitive in many ways. We did it for so long that there is something that just kicks in. I wouldn't know how to define it in any other way but just to say it's almost like instinct at this point. As well as the fact that we are older than when we started, and that we get to play with as well. That's an interesting thing for us, as actors, to play these same characters but in a much later part of their lives, which you don't normally get to do as an actor. It's very, very rare."
How has the show changed over time? Duchovny: "The frame of The X-Files, which started out as a pretty much straight-ahead thriller/mystery/horror genre science-fiction show, kind of started to mold and get more flexible as writers like Glen Morgan and James Wong and then Vince [Gilligan] and then Darin Morgan took it into a more comedic area, sometimes into a more horror area.""And the show started to bend and it never broke, and I think that's a testament to the vision that [showrunner Chris Carter] had in the beginning, which I don't think he had consciously. But he created a show that could bend and could grow, and he had the luck or the foresight to hire writers that were going to take his baby and turn it into something else from time to time."
Please tell us more about the whole romantic tension between Mulder and Scully, and how it isn't really what the show is about, perhaps?! Duchovny: I think [Carter] made two characters who were complementary to one another, and kind of completed one another in the romantic comedy sense. You know, they had aspects of a personality that the other was lacking, and I think because it took so long for them to be physical in any way there was a certain ache to the show."
"That wasn't what the show was about. The show was about the cases; the show was about the quest. Whatever the show was about, it wasn't about this relationship. That's kind of, I think, the magic of the relationship and the show, is that it was never the point of the show — it always happened in the spaces of the show."
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