‘The X-Files’: Gillian Anderson Was Underpaid for 3 Seasons Before Receiving David Duchovny Salary Match

Fans and the cast can appreciate The X-Files for what it was as a tv show. Even though the premise deals with aliens, the show creator tried to keep it scientifically accurate. Viewers saw Scully as an inspiration to women working in science-related fields. 

Despite Agent Scully being an icon, actress Gillian Anderson dealt with inequality in the workplace. For one, she had to stand behind her co-star while filming. However, the unequal pay she received was a bigger concern. The star kept giving her demands to the studio until she got paid the same amount. 

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the "Home Again" episode of THE X-FILES.
THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the “Home Again” episode of ‘The X-Files.’ | FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

‘The X-Files’ is a sci-fi thriller

The X-Files is a science fiction show that aired from 1993 to 2002 on Fox. The series ran for nine seasons and had over 200 episodes. It became a big hit among audiences and was highly influential in popular culture. In 2016, the sci-fi show revived for seasons 10 and 11. 

The premise revolves around the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The main protagonists are two special agents named Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Together, they investigate X-Files, which are unsolved cases that have a paranormal phenomenon.  

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The characters uncover government conspiracies and raise questions about possible extraterrestrial involvement. Throughout the series, viewers wondered if there were truly aliens or not. The storyline kept the audience filled with suspense each season. 

The show contains an overarching storyline as well as “monster of the week” episodes. Ironically, one of the most popular ones is a banned episode. The characters investigate the death of a disfigured infant. The amputee mother living under the bed horrified viewers, but they still enjoyed the episode. 

The cast of ‘The X-Files’

The primary antagonist is the Smoking Man, who is played by William B. Davis. The Smoking Man holds a high position in the government and plays a key role in some of the conspiracies in the show. He tries to stop Mulder from discovering the truth about alien involvement. 

After the creator fought against Fox’s wishes, Anderson got cast to play Scully. The character is a medical doctor and scientist. She is a skeptic of the paranormal, unlike her partner, but she becomes more open to such explanations later on. 

David Duchovny portrayed Scully’s partner, Mulder. Mulder has been a believer ever since he was young. Part of his character is trying to find out what happened to his missing sister. He takes the X-Files seriously and considers them his main purpose in life. 

At first, Anderson and Duchovny did not get along well. There was some chemistry between them, but the actors would not talk to each other for long periods. Today, they are great friends and have a lot of respect for each other. 

Gillian Anderson demanded equal pay

According to The Daily Beast, Anderson received a smaller check than Duchovny during The X-Files‘ original run. It took three years for the star to negotiate equal pay. When the series revived in 2016, she had to assert her authority on the matter once again. 

The studio attempted to undo her efforts when they offered to pay her half of what her co-star made. Anderson did not accept the wage gap after all the work she had done. Eventually, the studio gave in and provided her with the same pay for the new episodes. 

“Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it’s important that it gets heard and voiced. It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly. I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it,” Anderson stated in an interview.