The X-Files DataBase Blog

August 30, 2009

How Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy inspired genius

Filed under: General — xfilesdb @ 10:44 pm

Gillian Anderson got pregnant during the first season of The X-Files, and toward the end of the season it became more and more evident.  Her considerable extra bulk was very obvious as she ran toward Deep Thoat on the bridge after he was gunned down by the Crew Cut Man in “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” the Season 1 finale.  FOX executives wanted the part of Dana Scully to be re-cast, which Carter refused to do.  The obvious thing, the easy way out, would have been for The X-Files creative team to write the pregnancy into the storyline.  Considering that the “Scully has a boyfriend” angle was removed from the pilot episode figuring out who the father could have been an X-File.  Maybe an alien baby would be the story line?  No, that plot would be very “V,” and a few years early.

But Chris Carter decided to be creative to completely conceal Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy.  First, The X-Files were closed and the main characters were separated.  Some believe that the status of the show was unknown when the Season 1 finale was written while  others believe  The X-Files being closed and Mulder and Scully being separated became the plan to ease Scully out of the picture gradually.  It was probably a combination of the two, that a second season was in doubt but that Chris Carter had a plan in place.  At the beginning of the Season 2 opener, “Little Green Men,” we are led to believe that Mulder and Scully had very little interaction since The X-Files closed, perhaps to lay down the protocol for setting up future meetings (Scully putting the picture of Samantha face down on Mulder’s desk.)  Part of the reason for this is that Mulder has little trust to give anymore, which is proven when he cues up the reel-to-reel to a dead spot in the audio intercepted at Arecibo, then listens to the right spot after Scully leaves.  Mulder has been assigned to wiretaps investigating fraud, while Scully is teaching new cadets.  Mulder is later given a new partner, Alex Krycek, which temporarily kills off any chance for a reunion with Scully, effectively keeping them separated for the remainder of Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy.

Secondly, Chris Carter was creative with camera angles and props.  The most obvious was the autopsy table, because not only could Gillian Anderson hide her girth behind the table itself but for an autopsy Scully would wear… (well, they’re not scrubs, right?  If you know what the protective clothing for an autopsy is let me know and i’ll edit this.)  But of course there were other options, like shooting a scene in a dark parking garage, squatting down in said dark parking garage, or squatting down picking up fish food.  Then there were the camera angles themselves, the majority of them being right in Gillian Anderson’s face.

Lastly, and most importantly, there was Scully’s Abduction.  In the 2-part “Duane Barry/Ascension” Scully is abducted and experimented upon, then returned after a one episode hiatus in “One Breath.”  Gillian Anderson was absent for only one episode because of an abbreviated maternity leave of only ten days.  In fact, she was recovering at work, on her back and off her feet.  In the short term Scully was left with branched DNA in her bloodstream and was also in a comatose state.  The long term effects would create storylines for the remainder of the series; Scully’s bout with cancer was first visited in “Leonard Betts” and would be a major part of Season 4, and her miracle pregnancy was revealed in the Season 7 finale “Requiem” and drove Season 8.

So, while most shows would just simply write a pregancy into a show, The X-Files team worked around it and wrote unique developments that may not have been imagined otherwise.  While the first two examples of their creativity were relatively minor, Scully’s abduction and subsequent return was pure genius and paid dividends for the life of the series.



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