X-Files: Gillian Armstrong on the New (and her Last) Season

New Season: Topical Ideas

Gillian Armstrong: I don’t know if there’s anything really different with Scully. I wasn’t paying that much attention to the news about the research facility and I don’t know whether that necessarily has any influence on the series other than the fact that it’s obviously topical and a series about extraterrestrial life on other planets.

The show has always been about current events. The writers have used what’s going on currently both in the government and historically the government, as part of the story lines and current events and science and medicine.  So I feel like we are still true to form, that we are still doing all of that. There’s nothing different in what the focus of the episodes are about.

Last Season X-Files

GA: I won’t change my mind. It is it the last for me, and was always going to be it for me. One of the things that we spoke about when it was over after the third season was that she’s the kind of character that one could come and visit again. Not necessarily pick up where we left off but maybe five years on. If everybody felt like they wanted to dip into it again, we could see where she was five years on in her work.

It is part of what was so freeing about it ending because was that I then got to do all of the things that I wanted to do when I got caught in doing a series that I couldn’t leave, that I was contractually signed up for. And so now I’m in a position where I am offered different kinds of stuff and get to challenge myself in different ways on a regular basis. It feels like it would be counterproductive, or counterintuitive to sign myself up to do something that doesn’t allow me that freedom.

Reunion with David Duchovny
GA: It was great to reunite. Not much of the crew was the same, there was some of the same crew that we had, not all that we had originally, but had for one or two of the films. It’s always wonderful to work with Chris, and Glenn, and David and Jim, and so that’s fun to work with people that you know and have a history with.  And it was nice to shoot in Vancouver. It’s a city that I’m very familiar with. It feels very safe, gentle and it’s a pleasant place to spend time and be focused on one thing in particular.

Being Role Model for Younger Women

GA: It’s become more and more important as I’ve gotten older. I certainly inherited with Scully a certain responsibility, in terms of because of who she was and how at that particular time in television, in the 1990s, she was a singular representation of the greater percentage of women who existed, just in terms of her focus and her strengths of character, and her independence, and her free thinking. I think that because the reaction to her was so strong it became necessary for me to be really mindful and careful with how I spoke about her and how I myself went out into the world. Over time, as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more of the trajectory of women in their work, and what their choices are, and the kinds of freedoms that they may or may not have and how they are treated, and how they are respected, and how they are interacted with in the workplace has become obviously a much hotter topic. Because of the fact that I had the opportunity to play somebody like Scully early on, I think it’s been important for me to stay vocal in that conversation.

Conspiracy Theory

GA: It is timely again because it is more in the forefront than it ever has been. I mean, as it has been proven and has been proven time and time again, whether it’s with the Vietnam War or the Bay of Pigs, or whatever it is, the government has not been forthright about all the information.  And so it’s nothing new, in the 90s it wasn’t anything new, it just so happens that it’s daily.  As the show has always been very upfront about current events, it’s continuing to do that, and to address issues that perhaps other shows wouldn’t address in the same way.

Show: Up to Date

GA: Over time, when Chris and the writers were coming up with storylines, very often the seed of the story was based in what they are finding in Scientific America.  There is always an element, some element of truth in a handful of the episodes. That’s always been a part of the show.

My Living Room

GA: That is very funny, because my living room is under construction at the minute.  It has no floorboards and it’s covered in dust. And that’s basically all that is in there, beams and dust.  But normally there is a comfy sofa to watch, but in this particular moment, no.

Approached by People on the Street

GA: I don’t think that anybody, in the history of doing the show, has actually approached me as if I actually were the character of FBI agent. People have approached me ironically as if they could hand me a letter about something from outer space and that I would believe it. You would normally think that they would hand that to David because Mulder is the believer. But I don’t think anyone’s mistaken me for Dana Scullyhink.

Getting Close to David Duchovny

It’s funny because I was doing an interview this morning and I realized that we are close but we’re not close. The interviewer had said to me that I had once said that we were closer than any marriage or any relationship that I had ever been in. And actually I clarified it to say actually that it’s more that we’ve spent more time together than any other relationship, it’s not necessarily that we are close. Very often when you’re working these long hours you may have a little bit of chit-chat between scenes but you’re not really standing around talking about personal lives necessarily or very often you don’t have meals either at work or outside of work together because you’re in each other’s company all the time. So I actually don’t know very much about David Duchovny, (laughter) but we love each other, we are very good together and we appreciate and respect each other. But you could ask me, probably 9 out of 10 things you could ask me about him I would get wrong.

Recalling First Day of Shooting Season 1

GA: I don’t remember that. I’m sure because of the fact I was completely naive about the business and very green. I had never, I didn’t have much experience on a set at all. I didn’t know what marks were or what a season of television was.  I’m sure at the time where my head was, was just kind of flying by the seat of my pants and trying to learn and not mess it up and not be fired. I’m sure I thought David was very cool and seeing that he had so much more experience than I did and seemed to know what he was doing.


Reaction to Sexual Harassment

GA: I’m mixed. I mean on the one hand there does seem to be, as this overcorrection taking place, there does seem to be a lumping of responses to the accusations. But I think that what’s happening right now that I think is really commendable, is that the commissions that are being put into place, whether it’s the commission on harassment, or whether it’s the legal defense fund, there is a real aim to get clarity around it and to create an environment where the right kind of change can take place, so that there is accountability, and that there is fairness. It it’s also not just about harassment, it’s not just about abuse. It is also very much about equal representation and equality. And it’s not just about Hollywood, it’s about all industries. And that is one of the things that was the point being made about women coming together to wear black was that women in Hollywood were saying that we are here because we have a platform but we are speaking for all women who have ever experienced any form of harassment or abuse and we are just encouraging you, and encouraging people in whatever industry you are in, to start putting the best practices in place so that it’s safe for people to come forward and talk about it, so that it’s not a blanket reaction to something. So that it’s not one reaction to the myriad of different things that could take place, and I think it’s a learning curve right now. But it seems like with Kathleen Kennedy at the helm of that Commission and some really good activists and advocates out there who are trying to make sure that what you are talking about is just this small moment in time where people are trying to find their footing.  But from here on out, there’s actual policy and legislation and a shift in the social consciousness.

French Reaction to Issue: Catherine Deneuve

There’s an element of what she said about men having the right to hit on women that I have to say I agree. I like being hit on.