This weekend’s London Film and Comic Con had three cast members of one of the most enduring and beloved sci-fi series of recent times, The X-Files, in attendance: Mitch Pileggi who played Mulder and Scully’s boss Walter Skinner, Nicholas Lea who played turncoat nemesis Alex “Rat Boy” Krycek and Agent Dana Scully herself Gillian Anderson. The show ran nine seasons and spawned two feature films: Fight the Future and I Want to Believe. Fight the Future did alright and was OK (that’s insightful criticism for you) while I Want to Believe didn’t do very well but hey, I really liked it. But will there be another movie? Read on.
Pileggi and Lea did a separate panel to Gillian but I am sticking them together so don’t worry – Scully is in here, just halfway down.
When Mitch Pileggi entered the room he was wearing a cap and no glasses but any sense of unfamiliarity disappeared when he opened his mouth. I’d forgotten that voice, he’s got a great voice. Nicholas Lea seemed cool and awfully candid, but I suppose getting killed off with no chance of return if there’s another series or movie kind of grants you the freedom to say whatever you like.
The pair began by telling a story about being over to the UK doing X-Files press and getting so hammered that they couldn’t hack playing golf at St. Andrews the next morning. Life is hard. They then took questions until the sound went. After a few minutes technical struggle they gamely yelled out their answers.
Looking back on the show now, what do you think?
I still think it holds up. I think there’ll be a piece of this show in The Smithsonian one day.
I’ve been rewatching it with my daughter, who’d never seen it before, and it is really, really good.
What was it like to see Gillian again?
I haven’t seen her for a long time and we met up earlier in the Green Room, I wanted to say, and I didn’t, but I’ll tell you now. I wanted to say to her “I just wanted to ask… just one more time… could you call me Sir?”
What was your favourite episode?
I think the best episodes were the ones when we didn’t have much money. I think the show worked best when you had to use your imagination and that as it got a bigger budget it lost something.
My favourite is Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. My favourite episodes are probably the ones that I’m not in!
(To Mitch) What was it like narrating Breaking the Magician’s Code (a show Mitch narrated that spilled the secrets behind lots of magic tricks)?
I regret it. I lost a lot of friends because of it. I had magician friends and you know… I don’t really want to talk about it and I didn’t really want to keep doing it, but money’s a drug.
Who were the best of the show’s directors?
The late Kim Manners and Rob Bowman.
They were a large part of the heart of the show and just like two big, talented kids.
Were they sad when the show ended?
Every show has a shelf life and must come to an end.
The show ended at the perfect time.
You know, when characters start to die and get pregnant the original formula and what made the show special gets lost.
That ended on a bit of a downer. Sorry about that. Don’t worry, here’s Gillian “Scully” Anderson – she’s pretty funny. Definitely not the sort to take any guff, Gillian was happy to respond with one word answers, sarky remarks and not afraid to call people out for silly questions, repeated questions or in one bizarre sequence, have a go at an audience member upon remembering them stalking her while in Russia! She’ll also give us the odds on another X-Files movie…
Gillian Anderson Talk
It takes a couple of goes to get the first question conveyed, the acoustics and roving microphone volume are questionable, but it’s rubbish anyway – something about how she feels seeing all her fans at stuff like this.
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve gotten used to the fans now … (holds her microphone to her ear, then realises what she’s doing) I keep thinking that I’ll hear you better if I hold the microphone to my ear! I’m such an idiot!
Is there a role she’s always wanted to play?
Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.
In a heavy Russian accent some woman asks if she remembers when she was in a hotel in Moscow and someone gave her a white rose.
Were you the one who was stalking me?! NEXT! You guys would not leave me alone! It was unbelievable!
Yikes. Busted. The next WTF question was some bollocks about what her travel plans were and I became very glad that I had not paid the £25 this talk costed. If you’re charging people money to attend panels, you really have to have a moderator to ensure people get some value from some proper questions and responses. That’s not a pop at Gillian herself – you can only answer what you’re asked and try and be patient. On that note she was then asked “can I have a hug?” Brilliant. She diplomatically turned that down, but it’s a shame that stuff like that gets through and wastes her and the rest of the audiences time, as well as making her feel awkward. Anyway. Next question: any chance of a tenth series of the show?
No. I’m here. I’ve just signed up for twitter for the first time.
Bit of an odd response that, but I guess she’s sick of the question. A film is more likely though, so will there be another movie?
I’d do another one. The question is who’s going to write the script and when? I’m up for it.
So at least we know one half of the team would sign up. I guess it just comes down to David Duchovny also being up for it and Fox thinking another jaunt for Mulder and Scully is financially viable. To be fair, I think a reboot is more likely. Christ. I wish I hadn’t said that. It’d be awful but now I can’t stop trying to recast it. Let’s forget all about it with a nice story about the best on-set practical joke Gillian was a victim of.
There was this one episode where there was a dead body with maggots all over it’s head and it was a real guy, not a prosthetic. Between takes I was picking at these maggots and pulling them out of his eye sockets. Then right at the end of the last take David (Duchovny) threw rice at me.
What a joker. You thought the “body” was gonna grab her didn’t you? Me too. I like the next question: do you believe?
We followed that with three separate people asking one after the other if she planned on returning to the stage. After the second time she was worried her microphone wasn’t working. After the third she was worried she was losing her sanity. I was just losing my patience. By the way, she would like to get back on the stage and wants to do something funny, hopefully in New York. This next question’s another doozy: will you ever do a film with Meryl Streep? Which is possibly the most ridiculously specific thing I’ve ever heard a star asked.
Fair enough. If someone asked me if I’d like to down shots with Jason Statham I’d opt for “hopefully” too. Don’t worry, this is nearly over.
What’s your favourite X-Files episode?
(very long think) Gillian Anderson:
Bad Blood is my favourite episode.
Are you interested in directing and who would you like to work with?
I am. But I think anybody I liked enough to want to work with would be too intimidating … maybe Ryan Gosling. He’s really … a good actor.
What’s her favourite X-Files story arc?
I can’t remember any of them. I liked the funny episodes.
Me too. Me too. Wow. So that was all the things what the X-Files people had to say. The boys, Pileggi and Lea, were fun and brutally honest and Scully herself was pretty aggy – but is up for another movie if a script materialises. I’ve already mailed Fox a piping hot copy of mine: The Xtreme Files, it’s radical. Channing Tatum snowboards to the deadly and terrifying heart of a government conspiracy.