‘The X-Files’ Creator Says Gillian Anderson Almost Wasn’t Cast Because She Wasn’t Fox’s ‘Idea of Sexy’

For Fox, Gillian Anderson almost wasn’t foxy enough to lead “The X-Files.”

Series creator Chris Carter called out Fox executives that almost thwarted his casting of Anderson in the 1993 series. Carter told Inverse that they wondered “where’s the sex appeal?” when it came to Anderson in the role of FBI Special Agent Dana Scully. It is a bit unclear there if Carter was referring to the studio, the network, or both. She ended up testing for both.

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“I wanted to take her before the studio and the network,” Carter said. “Even though Gillian’s beautiful, she wasn’t their idea of sexy. First, because they didn’t understand what I was trying to do with the show. And she was an unknown, so that never helps.”

Anderson’s “X-Files” co-star David Duchovny, who played FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, was also a hard sell, according to Carter.

“Casting is a hard job,” Carter said.

Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), who is leading an “X-Files” reboot (not to be confused with the “X-Files” sequel series from a few years back), is about to learn that lesson.

“All the problems that I dealt with are going to be his problems,” Carter said. “No matter what, he’s got a hard job.”

He’s also got Carter’s blessing. Carter added that Coogler reached out to him to pitch the reimagining of the original beloved franchise. Carter said that he had a “really nice conversation” with Coogler, who shared some “good ideas” for the updated show.

The original “X-Files” ran from 1993 to 2002. Two films were later released, leading to two continuation seasons between 2016 and 2018 with both Duchovny and Anderson returning. An animated series titled “The X-Files: Albuquerque” was in the works in 2020 as a comedy spinoff.

A man with psychic powers (Peter Boyle, R) assists agents Mulder (David Duchovny, L) and Scully (Gillian Anderson, not pictured) with the hunt for a killer in THE X-FILES episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" whichoriginally aired on Sunday, Oct. 13, 1995.
David Duchovny and Peter Boyle in “The X-Files.”Fox

Anderson has said through her Scully she “rebelled against” certain stereotypes of the role.

“I was expected to walk behind [Duchovny] when [our characters] walked up to the front doors of the people we were investigating,” Anderson said. “There were things that I rebelled against.”

That included the controversial series ending in which Agent Scully was revealed to be pregnant.

“It just feels like such an old idea. I’ve done it, I did it for so many years, and it also ended on such an unfortunate note,” she said. “In order to even begin to have that conversation [about another season] there would need to be a whole new set of writers and the baton would need to be handed on for it to feel like it was new and progressive. So yeah, it’s very much in the past.”

Anderson added of originally signing on for the character, “I don’t think it was as clear-cut in my mind as being, ‘Oh, this is a feminist character.’ I think that it was more of just, ‘This is a woman that I haven’t seen before on television, and she’s so unique.’”

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