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How Gillian Anderson Ended Up Starring In The X-Files

David Duchovny Gillian Anderson The X-Files

The X-Files was a show that changed what could be done with sci fi on the small screen on a major network, and series ranging from Fringe to Supernatural to Bones have drawn inspiration from what worked on The X-Files. As much as the plots of The X-Files were about monsters and aliens and conspiracies, however, the show itself was really about Mulder and Scully. Without David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson clicking onscreen as the lead agents, The X-Files almost certainly wouldn't have lasted for nine seasons, two movies, and one revival. According to Gillian Anderson, clicking with David Duchovny is what actually won her the role of Scully.

In a chat with Deadline, Gillian Anderson had this to say about being cast on The X-Files:

In the beginning of the casting process, when we were at network, David was cast and I was among a number of actresses being tested alongside him. They were looking for a match of which two looked right together, who worked best together, et cetera. We didn't know each other at all, but for some reason there was something in the room between the two of us that wasn't there with the others. To a degree, you can manufacture that as actors, and you have to most of the time, but for some reason there was something tangible and palpable that existed between us, right then.

Mulder and Scully became legendary for their chemistry, to the point that fans today still bond over fury at the bee that interrupted hallway time in the first feature film. The fact that their chemistry dates all the way back to the casting process goes a long way to explain how the show survived some of the uneven first season. The mythology may not have made sense and the monsters may have been a bit silly, but those agents sure did know how to gaze.

It's no real surprise that David Duchovny was cast before Gillian Anderson. Although Anderson was the one of the two to win an Emmy for her performance on the show, she was only 24 years of age when she auditioned for The X-Files. She had minimal work experience in showbiz, whereas Duchovny already had a decent resume. It's a lucky thing that Anderson and Duchovny clicked enough to win her the part. The dynamic between Mulder and Scully is what made the show, but Anderson is responsible for turning Scully into a female character that hadn't really been seen on television before.

Fans were also lucky to see Gillian Anderson reprise the role of Scully in a 2016 TV revival. The Season 10 miniseries was such a ratings success that Fox is up for more, and David Duchovny has revealed that he's all in to come back for a potential Season 11. Anderson has expressed reluctance about jumping back into the role of Scully in an ongoing capacity, but she also hasn't said no. Hopefully, the schedules and inclinations of everybody involved will match up enough to bring the series back at least to resolve that painfully frustrating cliffhanger. Maybe Fox should offer Anderson equal pay right off the bat this time.

Only time will tell if we get more of Gillian Anderson as Agent Dana Scully. Check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what you can catch on the smallscreen now and in the near future.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.