by Deborah Starr (March 1995)
David Duchovny is not happy. He stands behind Gillian Anderson
in a barebones photo studio, resigned to having roll after roll
of pictures taken on what promises to be another 16-hour day. Now
that The X-Files has been crowned with a Golden Globe for best drama
and is emerging from cult status to become a mainstream hit, the
world is descending upon Vancouver, British Columbia, where the
Fox series is shot and in all the X-citement, everyone wants a piece
of the costars.
Anderson, sensing Duchovny's mood, looks down at his hand on her
left shoulder and tries to brush it away, as if it were a mosquito.
Then she turns and jumps into his arms, laughing, looking like a
little girl making trouble for a protective older brother. Startled
to be holding her, the smile on Duchovny's face is forced no longer.
"When we first started X-files," says Anderson, "I was so green.
It was only my second time in front of a camera. I desperately needed
someone to show me the ropes. And he did that. He was wonderful."
Little wonder, then, that Anderson, 25, turned to David again when
she was pregnant. It was last winter, they were still in the thick
of their first season in a series showing real promise, and Anderson
was worried about losing her job. "I went into his trailer," she
recalls, "and I said, 'David, I'm pregnant.' It looked like his
knees buckled. I think he said, 'Oh, my God.' And he asked me if
it was a good thing. I said, 'Yeah, it is.' "No one else knew, and
Duchovny kept it that way for weeks, until Anderson was ready to
tell her producers and deal with the professional consequences.
"We really trust each other," Duchovny says simply.
There is, between these two, a real-life camaraderie born of necessity,
a friendship strong enough to survive too many work hours, and a
chemistry powerful enough to rearrange the atoms on-screen. "Whenever
we're acting together," says Anderson, "it's there." As FBI special
agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, their sizzle packs a wallop not
because of any romantic involvement-which the show carefully avoids-but
because their characters' remarkable brainpower, each is incomplete
without the other: He never tires of brandind the mind-bending,
hair-raising crimes they investigate as paranormal or supernatural.
She insists that he root his out-of-this-world theories in science.
"It's just suddenly dawned on me," says wardrobe supervisor Gillian
Kieft, "that the way Mulder and Scully are on-screen is the way
David and Gillian are in person. They help each other, they respect
"But we don't hang out," cautions Duchovny, 34. "We are very wary
of the fact that at any moment the other can turn into a psychotic
human being because of the demands that are put on us, the 16-hour
days. So I know when she is very tired and irritable, and she knows
the same about me. We have a great respect for the fine line the
other is walking all the time." They are walking that fine line
now, near midnight, at a creepy downtown high-rise construction
site. Chilly and damp, Duchovny and Anderson are exhausted but show
virtually no signs of the usual Hollywood afflictions: no need for
hand-holding by assistants, no entourage, no preening between takes,
no temper tantrums. They don't even seem to understand that they
are, in fact, stars. "One of the things about Vancouver is that
we don't have a lot of people hanging around watching us, "says
John S. Bartley, the X-files director of photography. He reconsiders:
"Or if we do, they don't get too close. There is something about
this city, perhaps a Canadian reserve. They don't seem to bother
people who are famous."
"Did you see when we won the Golden Globes?" asks hairdresser Malcolm
"Gillian stood up, and she was in an absolute daze. She just never
expected it." Anderson agrees. "I had no clue about it. I just don't
get it. And ultimately, I think that's good because it keeps my
That may change. "The other day," says David, "a production assistant
came up behind me and said, 'Robin Williams would like to meet you,
David.' And as I was turning, I said, 'No, he wouldn't.' And he
was standing right there. And he goes, ' Oh, yes he would!' So that
was kind of funny. But you know, it is more satisfying to me to
deal with the people who tried to help me a long time ago, who believed
in me, who told me to just hang in there."
Which is what Duchovny and Anderson are telling each other now.
They have developed a sort of shorthand communication: few words,
very focused, very relaxed. "They both have a quiet side," says
Bartley. "David can be very funny, very sharp. But mostly, he holds
back and just watches and listens to the people around him. Gillian
shows a little more emotion. She laughs just like a little girl.
They are terrific together."
But no one could have guessed from their rocky beginnings in a
tiny audition room at Twentieth Century Fox Television that this
twosome would take off. "I already knew I had the part, so I was
totally loose," says Duchovny with Mulder-esquesardonic humor. "This
was my room, these were my people, this was my part. I was just
fantastic. I wish I'd been that good when the cameras were rolling.
So I played the scene in a kind of sarcastic way-much more sarcastic
then it was written-and Gillian was just completely thrown by it.
I was toying with this person, because Mulder doesn't really care
whether she stays or goes. And she was shock that anybody would
talk to her that way." He smiles at the memory. "That's exactly
how she should have reacted. It was perfect."
Still, the network needed to be convinced. "They wanted somebody
leggier," says Anderson," somebody with more breasts, somebody drop-dead
gorgeous." Even after she got the part, she knew-and the crew knew-that
she was swimming up-stream.
Marsden chopped the long, wavy, ashblond hair that reached to the
middle of her back and turned it into a sleek, strawberry-blonde
bob. But that was just a surface alteration - Anderson ,an award-winning
Off-Broadway actress, also had to learn how to move, how to speak
scientific jargon with ease, and how to cope with the crushing demands
of an hour-long series.
"In the beginning," says Marsden, "she had trouble with her lines,
and I think it kind of upset David because he is so accomplished.
He's worked in feature files. He's worked with Brad Pitt. And he
can learn his lines"-Marsden snaps his fingers-"like . But I know
he appreciates how hard she works."
Then came the emotional roller-coaster ride of Anderson's life.
Within six months of starting the series, she met and fell in love
with Clyde Klotz, then the production designer-a man crew members
describe as "very talented, very gentle"-and married him on the
spur of the moment on New Year's Day, 1994, on the 17th hole of
a magnificent Kauai golf course ("because that was the most beautiful
place we could find on short notice," says Anderson). Even her hairdresser
didn't know what was going on. "I didn't have a clue she was getting
married," says Marsden. "It just really stunned me."
Anderson was a little stunned herself. Unbeknownst to her at the
time, the happy couple conceived their daughter, Piper, who is now
6 months old. on their wedding day. When Anderson got back to the
mainland, she says, "I was at a party that Fox gave for at a Burbank
Airport hangar, and there were fortune-tellers. So I sat down, and
the fortune-teller said to me: 'You are going to have a little girl
soon.' And I said, 'I am not!' A month or so later, I started feeling
nauseous." And happy. And very, very worried. A pregnancy would
mean limitations on her work schedule and missing episodes - no
one could predict how many - in the second season. "I knew I needed
to make my decision about the pregnancy first, before broaching
the subject with the producers," says Anderson. "I couldn't be wavering.
Having this baby was the right decision for my husband and me. But
it was like, 'Oh, my God. They did all this for me and now look
what I'm doing to them.' So many things go through your mind. So
yes, I was worried."
Apparently with good reason. According to several sources, executive
producer Chris Carter was not pleased. "He went ballistic," says
one source. "He wanted to get rid of her." Two other insiders back
up that claim. "They were considering recasting," confirms Anderson.
"I heard a lot of stuff through the grapevine, and it was not comforting."
Not so, says Carter. "I never, ever considered replacing her. It's
a lie. If anything, I was the loudest voice saying: We have to protect
this show and this person. Scully and Mulder are two characters
that the audience has invested in, they are the secret to the success
of the show, and we have to find a way to make this work."
How did all of this affect Anderson? "She's grown up," says wardrobe
supervisor Kieft. "Getting married and having the baby has matured
her, I think, and given her a bit of stability. When she was pregnant,
we did have a bed standing by, and whenever we could, we would get
her to lie down. But she is quite a strong little person." In fact,
Anderson missed only one episode and was back to work - after an
emergency C-section - in just 10 days. "I was getting restless,"
says Anderson. "I wanted to get back to work because it was really
hard on David, and it's the two of us up there, you know?"
In the meantime, Duchovny - whose pre-X-Files career included the
feature films "The Rapture," "Chaplin," and "Kalifornia" - had his
own crosses to bear. For this sometimes homesick New Yorker, the
idea of living in Vancouver for at least five years is not heaven
on earth. "There are some days," says Duchovny, "when it is really
a terrible prospect to me. I never imagined myself on a television
series because I always imagined hopping from one glorious movie
to another. When we were signing contracts to do the pilot, my agent
said, 'You really have to think about what you are getting into.'
And I said, 'I have thought about it.' But I never thought about
it. Because I didn't know how hard it would be."
Making matters worse is the fact that his girlfriend, actress Perrey
Reeves, still lives in Los Angeles - "although I'm not sure I'd
see any more of her if she lived up here," he says. Duchovny, who
dreams of one day "having a wife and three kids," consoled himself
by becoming the proud owner of a fluffy Border collie/terrier mix
he named Blue - for the Bob Dylan song "Tangled Up in Blue." "The
idea was that she would help me with my blues," Duchovny says. "People
think that you listen to the blues when you are sad, but actually,
the blues kind of help alleviate sadness. It was a totally selfish
Did it work? "Oh yeah," he says, as he pets her and her tail goes
crazy. "She's a living thing. And training her is like training
for being a dad. I see aspects of myself in the way that I handle
Blue that I would want to curb a little bit when I have a child.
I don't get fed up, but sometimes I don't want to give her all the
time that she needs, you know? I've got a dog staring at me every
morning saying, 'Let's go play Frisbee.' And I have to say, 'Don't
you know who hard Daddy works?'"
Mommy's pretty busy, too. Anderson heads back to her trailer immediately
after each shot to check on her baby girl, who's now sleeping. "I
have had the best over this past year," whispers Anderson. "And
, I am beat. I have thought that all of was too much. But having
Piper has saved my life." How? "It took the focus off of me and
put it on something much more important."
A knock on the door and it's time for another take. Anderson hurries
back to the dank basement of a high-rise, where Duchovny is waiting.
"You OK?" he asks her. "Fine," she smiles. Just like Scully and
Mulder. And the camera isn't even rolling.