The cosmos aligned for Mulder and Scully to return to TV, and for a show that's about alien conspiracy and the unexplained, do you think that's a coincidence? Yes, against all expectations (and even some of their misgivings) Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny suited up once more for six episodes of The X-Files. It took Mulder (and fewer episodes) to get Scully to sign on.
"The episode count had probably the biggest influence on my final decision," Anderson told E! News on set in Vancouver, Canada about returning to the franchise. "I wasn't interested in it. What doing it for TV meant in the olden days was such a massive thing…I think the most we ever did was 24 [episodes], but still, I'd be in my grave if we continued to do that. So it was wrapping my brain around the idea that it could exist on TV and not be that. And also, I've been doing a lot of TV and didn't want to commit to yet another TV thing."
Anderson said she struck a balance in her work with film and theater, in addition to her commitment to the BBC drama The Fall, but Duchovny also played a big role. "And also David saying, 'But it could be fun!' [Laughs.]" Reprising the roles required a little more than just signing a contract and strapping on a wig. For Anderson, there were a few hurdles she had to get over to become Special Agent Dana Scully once again.
"I think there [were stumbling blocks] more than I allowed myself to admit there might be at the time…Maybe I thought it'd be easier, but…I suddenly realized that I had successfully pushed her so far out of my mind to do other stuff, that finding her again with that thing…whatever it was, that made me feel like her again."
However, Duchovny said he "didn't experience much difficulty." "Maybe a little, but I—it seemed very familiar when I started working with Gillian and getting on set. You know, the first couple of days—this guy is hyper verbal. There's a lot of kind of technical dialogue," he said. "If it's not smooth, it doesn't work. It only took me a couple of days to get that flow."
Working with Anderson is something Duchovny has been doing for close to 23 years. The two actors have been tethered together since before the show even started production.
"We met at the testing for the network. That was the first time I met her and we just ended up running lines together…I think three or four other women there to test—we just kind of paired off for some reason and just started running lines with one another. And that was it. Then it was in the hands of Fox, really, who they were going to decide who was it," Duchovny told E! News.
Anderson said she remembers the exact moment they met, even if she disappointed Duchovny. "I remember him sitting in the hallway, talking to him. He was very disappointed—he said where are you from and I said New York because I had lived there for a year, but he's actually from New York, so he said, 'Where are you from?' and I said, 'Well, I've been living for a year in Greenwich Village' or whatever, and his disappointment was palpable," she said with a laugh. Since then, the two have become quite close, despite some stumbling blocks while the show was on the air.
The chemistry between the two has become a defining aspect of The X-Files. There's the believer, Mulder, and the skeptic, Scully, tied together by their desire for the truth and belief in one another. Fox riled fans when it revealed Mulder and Scully were no longer together romantically. All the attention to those aspects of the series doesn't seem to affect Duchovny.
"That doesn't enter into my head at all, it's just trying to do the scripts as well as we can. Since I'm not writing the scripts, no I don't have any real interest in that kind of stuff. I find the less I involve myself with stuff outside of the creation of what we're doing, the better my work is," he said of the new dynamic between Mulder and Scully. "It's just better for me. That's the way I've always done it. I didn't start out being an actor trying to listen to 5 million people."
Anderson admitted she heard rumblings of the displeasure of the relationship status change. "Even though I knew that they were devoted and passionate, I still get shocked by it sometimes," she said of the fanbase. But the new dynamic was almost necessary for the show to work again.
"Part of what is enticing about the duo is the fact that they are against each other [Laughs.] at the same time they are for each other," she said. "It's just too domestic a scenario to have it being that they live in the same house, and they go home every night to the same house while they're doing The X-Files during the day. It leaves a much more intriguing and interesting dynamic to have us still maybe be in love and have that spark going, that question mark."
While they may be broken up now, all hope should not be lost.
"I think at the end, I think at the very end they absolutely belong together, but it's a long road," Anderson said.
But is this the end? At the end of the six-episode series is it goodbye or see you later?
"I don't know, I've learned not to say goodbye at this point," Duchovny said. Would this be a fitting end? "Well, yes and no. It's never a fitting end unless you die. And I don't think I'm dying yet, although we'll see. There could always be rewrites," he joked.
At the time of the interview Anderson said she hadn't read the finale (we were on set for episode five of six), but said, "From what I hear it's a good beginning [Laughs.], which I guess in the end can be an equally good ending. You know, if the question mark is so big…"
The X-Files returns for six-episode event series debuts on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. with another episode on Monday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. on Fox. Be sure to come back to E! Online for more on The X-Files' revival from David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.