Two FBI agents walk into a room… well that’s not exactly how The X-Files went. Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (the X-Files cast being led by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson), investigate unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena.
This is an unassigned detail of the bureau putting together Mulder, a skilled criminal profiler, conspiracy theorist and true believer, and Scully, a medical doctor and skeptic, but who has been assigned to scientifically analyze Mulder’s discoveries. Combined, they perceive their cases from standpoints of science and the paranormal. With a mix of sci-fi, horror, and reality, this drama satisfies the biggest skeptic.
The sci-fi television drama originally aired from 1993 to 2002 and throughout those nine years, the story lines about mythology, extraterrestrial/conspiracy theories and paranormal happenings evolved. Also evolving was the chemistry and relationship between Mulder and Scully, both of whom were never called by their first names.
Catchphrases such as “Trust no one,” “They’re not out there…they’re here,” and “The truth is out there” have become sayings within the lexicon of everyday conversations, especially of late since there have been credible sightings and reports of unidentified flying objects.
The X-Files cast then and now
While Duchovny and Anderson have gone on to other projects, their friendship has remained solid over the years. Let’s catch up with them and a few other X-Files cast members.
David Dunchovny as Fox Mulder
Born in New York City, David Duchovny earned an undergrad degree from Princeton University and attended Yale University studying for a Masters degree in English Literature. It was at Yale that he commuted to The Big Apple to study acting and soon was appearing in off-Broadway plays. That put the kibosh on his doctoral studies as he began pursuing his acting career full time.
Beginning at the bottom of the Hollywood barrel, David took on several commercials in the late ’80s — a notable one for Lowenbrau beer — and crossed over into films like Working Girls with bit parts, but he now had his foot in the proverbial casting door. His big break came in 1991 when he was offered the role of transgender DEA agent Denise Bryson on Twin Peaks.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the TV show, David got noticed even though he only appeared in three episodes. Beethoven (1992) showed his comedic talents while Kalifornia (1993) proved his leading man status, alongside another up-and-comer, Brad Pitt. That same year was even more celebratory when he was offered the part of Mulder as part of The X-Files cast. And that character has become somewhat of an international pop culture legend.
The show ended in 2002, but the dedicated fans have not diminished over the years. To date, he has reprised Mulder in two X-Files feature films (1998 and 2008) as well as a 2015 six-episode continuation of the series.
Forever ingrained in cultural minds as Mulder, David struck gold again after landing the lead role of Hank Moody in Californication, the raunchy series which became a hit for its sardonic humor and Duchovny’s ability to always turn in a terrific performance.
Away from the bright lights, Duchovny has written books, provided voice-over work in video games and PSA campaigns, made his directorial debut with an episode of The X-files, and wrote, directed, and appeared in the feature film House of D.
But Mulder, the curious, credulous FBI agent he played on and off over a period of 25 years never became stale to the actor. “What was interesting when we went back to do the reboot season, was how daunting it was at first. How do I do this guy again? Who is this guy? But then I thought, well, now he’s older. He’s different and so am I. For me, life is life, and I don’t know anything about what’s coming up. I don’t just say no to things like another reboot. It’s not how I function.”
Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully
Chicago native Gillian Anderson grew up in London and then in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she was noted for her rebellious behavior, shocking hair colors, nose piercing and voted class clown and most likely to be arrested. Even during this defiant stage, Anderson became interested in theatre and began acting in high school productions followed by community theatre. Upon graduation, she enrolled in the Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Of course, as with almost all aspiring actors, Gillian moved to New York City to further her acting ambitions. She began her career on stage in Absent Friends and worked as a waitress to support herself.
Feeling confident in her acting ambitions, Anderson moved to sunny Los Angeles in 1992 and spent an entire year auditioning. “I swore I’d never move to Los Angeles,” she once recalled. “And once I did, I swore I’d never do television. It was only after being out of work for a year that I began going to auditions on some stuff that I would pray I wouldn’t get, because I didn’t want to be involved in it.” It was during her guest appearance in Class of ‘96 that Anderson was sent the script for The X-Files. She was 24. “For the first time in a long time, the script involved a strong, independent, intelligent woman as a lead character.”
Gillian subsequently secured her acting future in the form of Agent Scully, winning numerous awards, including an Emmy, Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Saturn Award. Much had been written about her and Duchovny’s onscreen chemistry over the years and still to this day. “For whatever reason, there was this energy between us when we came together, which is very compelling and curious. Why do we have that?” she once asked rhetorically. “There’s attraction on screen with other actors I have worked with, but it’s not the same.”
Her character initiated a phenomenon referred to as “The Scully Effect” — as the medical doctor and FBI Special Agent, she inspired many young women to pursue careers in science, medicine and law enforcement.
During 1996, Anderson narrated two TV documentaries and hosted a BBC series Future Fantastic. The following year, she starred in the film Playing by Heart and also took part in The Vagina Monologues.
Her starring role in The House of Mirth won critical acclaim and numerous awards. But when The X-Files ended, the actress ended her stay in Los Angeles and moved back to London in 2002 with the opportunity of returning to the stage. Besides the theatre, Anderson also racked up film after film – both big and small – including Great Expectations, The Crimson Petal and the White, Moby Dick and Any Human Heart. She also returned to television in The Fall for BBC Two, a role that garnered her more critical acclaim and awards.
Anderson reprised her role of Blanch DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire in 2016 back in Brooklyn. Then in 2019, she portrayed Margo Canning in a stage production of All About Eve, for which she received her third Laurence Olivier Award nomination. She secured an Emmy and Golden Globe for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown.
This decade has been a hectic one for Anderson. She launched her own audio show in 2022, What Do I Know?! on Curio. She also signed a first look deal with Netflix and, in April of 2022, she portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in the TV series The First Lady on Showtime. Last year on Netflix, she starred in The Pale Blue Eye alongside Christian Bale. In 2023, she was cast as Emily Maitlis in Netflix’s Scoop, and is going to star in The Salt Path, a film adaptation of a bestselling memoir.
Away from TV, theatre, and film, Anderson is a committed feminist. “I have feminist bones and when I hear things or see people react to women in certain ways, I have very little tolerance,” she told Glamour.
Other starring X-Files cast members
Robert Patrick as John Doggett
Robert Patrick joined The X-Files cast in season eight and made his first appearance in the episode, “Within.” After his son’s death, he left the NYPD and joined the FBI’s Criminal Investigations Division. He was then assigned to the X-files unit as Scully’s partner after the task force could not find Mulder. Patrick did not reprise the role of Doggett for the 10th season due to his work on the TV series Scorpion. He’s probably best known as the evil cyborg in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner
After n incident during his time in the Vietnam War in the US Marine Corp where he shot and killed a young boy carrying explosives, Skinner was scarred for life. First he is Mulder and Scully’s direct supervisor, later serving the same for Doggett and Reyes. Mitch Pileggi appeared in both X-Files films.
Annabeth Gish as Monica Reyes
Reyes didn’t come to the X-Files until season 8. Her first assignment was serving on a special task force investigating satanic rituals. She is a good friend of Doggett’s and becomes his partner after Scully’s departure. In real life, before entering The X-Files cast, Annabeth Gish wrote a letter to famed actress Lillian Gish about her interest in pursuing acting. Lillian wrote back: “There’s too much talent and not enough work in the movies.”
The X-Files cast fun facts
Gillian Anderson was too young for the part of Scully so she lied about her real age when she auditioned, saying she was 4 years older than she actually was.
In the first few seasons of the show, Mulder is a firm believer in ET’s while Scully is skeptical. In real life, this is the exact opposite — Duchovny is the skeptic and Anderson is the believer.
Even though Scully was a tried and true redhead, in reality Gillian is a natural blonde.
Duchovny was much taller than his co-star, so she used to stand on a box dubbed the “Gilly Board.” Anderson said sometimes she used to forget about its presence and trip over it.
Lucy Lawless’ season 9 character was meant to become a major recurring character in the show’s final season, but a high-risk pregnancy forced her to leave The X-Files cast after only two appearances.
The famous “I Want To Believe” UFO poster from Mulder’s office continually had to be replaced as copies kept disappearing from the set. The poster, on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, is one of the last available copies of the original set-used posters.
Duchovny provided the voice for a parody of his Mulder character in “The Springfield Files” episode of The Simpsons.
The father of Scully’s baby, William, was thought to be Mulder, but in season 11, the big twist revealed it is the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis).
There were many stars who appeared on The X-Files before they became famous: Jack Black, Lucy Liu, Ryan Reynolds, Felicity Huffman, Michael Buble, Terry O’Quinn, Bryan Cranston and Luke Wilson among them. The series also had famous actors appear in the series: Jodie Foster, Peter Boyle, Burt Reynolds, Minnie Driver, Garry Shandling, Lily Tomlin, Ed Asner and John Neville.
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