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The X-Files Creator Reveals Execs Want Someone Else for Gillian Anderson’s Scully Role: ‘Where’s the Sex Appeal?’

The X-Files Creator Reveals Execs Want Someone Else for Gillian Anderson's Scully Role: 'Where's the Sex Appeal?'


  • The X-Files
    creator Chris Carter had to push for Duchovny’s casting as Mulder due to his obscurity at the time, but saw potential in Anderson as Scully.
  • Executives wanted a “bombshell” for Scully, like Pamela Anderson, but Carter believed in Anderson’s unique qualities for the role.
  • Duchovny and Anderson’s casting proved crucial to
    The X-Files
    ‘ success, leading to a cultural phenomenon and future spinoffs.

The X-Files series creator Chris Carter recently shared how David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson landed the iconic roles of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.

In an interview with Inverse, Carter shared some behind-the-scenes insights from the casting process that brought us the unforgettable tandem of Duchovny and Anderson. He revealed that while he was confident in Duchovny’s suitability for the role of Mulder, the actor’s relative obscurity at the time meant that Carter had to advocate strongly for his casting.

The X-Files poster

The X-Files

Release Date
September 10, 1993


Chris Carter

However, it was the casting of Anderson as Scully that proved to be the real challenge. The network, Fox, had a different vision for the character, preferring a more conventional “bombshell” in the vein of Pamela Anderson from Baywatch. Carter, on the other hand, saw something special in Gillian Anderson.

In his audition notes, Carter marked Duchovny with a “Yes,” but for Anderson, he wrote “Test,” indicating his desire to have her audition before the studio and network executives. This was due, in part, to their misunderstanding of Carter’s vision for the show and Anderson’s lack of fame at the time. Carter shared,

“For Gillian I wrote ‘Test,’ which means I wanted to take her before the studio and the network. [Executives asked] ‘Where’s the sex appeal? 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.”

How The X-Files’ Casting Shaped Its Success and Future

Despite these challenges, Carter’s persistence paid off. Both Duchovny and Anderson were cast in their respective roles, a decision that would prove to be crucial to the show’s success. The chemistry between the two actors and the depth they brought to their characters connected with the series’ fans, making The X-Files a cultural phenomenon. The show’s impact extended beyond its original run, leading to two spinoff feature films and two revival seasons, with both actors finding continued success in their careers.


10 Essential X-Files Episodes You Can’t Skip

Some episodes relate to the show’s mythology, character arcs, and central plot. Others represent the very best episodes that The X-Files has to offer.

Looking to the future, Carter also shared his thoughts on the upcoming reboot of The X-Files by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. While expressing excitement about seeing a new interpretation of the concept, Carter acknowledged the challenges Coogler faces, particularly in casting. Carter said,

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

The story of the original casting of The X-Files serves as a reminder of the importance of vision and determination in the creation of a television series.

The X-Files
is available for streaming on Hulu and FreeVee.

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