‘The X-Files’: Why Gillian Anderson Had to Stand Behind David Duchovny on Camera

Gillian Anderson had to fight for equal pay when she starred on The X-Files in the 1990s and again found herself being offered less than David Duchovny when the show returned for a 2016 revival. Back in the day, Anderson also was told to stand behind her co-star when on camera, a notion that she soon pushed aside.

Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) on 'The X-Files'
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson on ‘The X-Files’ | FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Gillian Anderson recalled her audition with David Duchovny

In a 2017 interview with The Daily Beast, Anderson recalled her audition with Duchovny for the series pilot, explaining how they read lines in a hallway and she remembered he was “charming.”

“I have only a very vague memory of him,” she recalled. “I remember the hallway quite well! But I don’t know what I thought of him. He was very charming, I do remember that.”

“But I think he’d just been charming to another girl right beforehand,” she added, remarking, “I think I went in a little bit wary of his charm.”

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny Portrait Session The X Files
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny | Deborah Feingold/Getty Images

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Gillian Anderson was required to stand behind David Duchovny

During the interview, Anderson shared how, when filming, she was required to stand a few feet behind Duchovny.

“I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick,” Anderson explained about playing Special Agent Dana Scully. “Or that, somehow, maybe it was enough of a change just to see a woman having this kind of intellectual repartee with a man on camera, and surely the audience couldn’t deal with actually seeing them walk side by side!”

Anderson added, “I have such a knee-jerk reaction to that stuff, a very short tolerance for that sh*t. I don’t know how long it lasted or if it changed because I eventually said, ‘F*ck no! No!’ I don’t remember somebody saying, ‘OK, now you get to walk alongside him.’”

She continued, “But I imagine it had more to do with my intolerance and spunk than it being an allowance that was made.”

Anderson found herself fighting for equal pay … again

Anderson revealed that, surprisingly, she was only offered half of Duchovny’s pay during talks for the X-Files revival. The actor had already experienced a three-years long battle in the ‘90s on The X-Files after she demanded “equal pay for equal work” and found herself having to negotiate yet again for the revival.

“I’m surprised that more [interviewers] haven’t brought that up because it’s the truth,” Anderson shared. “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.”

She continued, “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.

The actor was surprised that she would be offered less money again. “Even in interviews in the last few years, people have said to me, ‘I can’t believe that happened, how did you feel about it, that is insane.’ And my response always was, ‘That was then, this is now,’” she explained. “And then it happened again! I don’t even know what to say about it.”

“It is … sad,” she added. “It is sad.”

Anderson did eventually negotiate equal pay, sources told The Hollywood Reporter.