The truth is still out there - and Annabeth Gish is the latest agent on the case. The Cedar Falls native is new to the cast of The X-Files as Special Agent Monica Reyes. On Feb. 25, she'll join the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). The episode, "This is Not Happening," directed by Kim Manners, will mark Duchovny's return to the show.

"It's a wonderful way to start out the new year. Chris Carter decided to add a new character into the mix. Everyone has been warm and welcoming. I've just finished the first episode, and it's been great," Gish said in recent phone interview. "This show is such a smooth-running, well-oiled machine, and it has amazing production values, like a movie. They spend $5 million an episode and a lot of energy and quality goes into it."

Gish, who turns 30 in March, will be in four of the last six episodes.

Her character is called in from the FBI's New Orleans field office to work with Special Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick). There's an inkling Reyes is psychic, and she has a background in ritualistic crimes and satanic cults.

Chris Carter, creator/executive producer, has described Reyes as "unlike any of the other agents. She has been neither a firm believer or a major skeptic."

"Most of my scenes are with Gillian Anderson (Agent Dana Scully). They're not antagonistic, but confrontational. She's very protective of Mulder, and I'm the new girl on the block," Gish explained. Duchovny was only obligated for the last half of this season. It's uncertain whether Anderson will return for a ninth season, and Carter himself isn't sure whether he wants one. With Patrick infusing new blood into the series and ratings soaring 9 percent, there are signs for hope.

In a Knight-Ridder interview, Gish's hiring was described as a possible long-term Scully replacement if Anderson chooses not to return. Carter said, "You can't just drop in new characters, like Law & Order, and expect it to function as well as it has." If the mainstays don't return for a ninth season, "we have Annabeth and Robert ready to go," he said.

"It's a bit daunting," Gish admitted. "It's an intelligent show; it's subtle, not a lot of big acting. I think it's intense and a little left of center, too, which is fun."

She graduated from Northern University High School, and from Duke University cum laude with an English degree in 1993. In 1996, she put her hands in cement at the Main Street "Names on Main" Celebration. Gish was 13 when she made her big-screen debut in 1985's Desert Bloom. Her career blossomed into roles in Mystic Pizza, Coupe De Ville, Hiding Out, Wyatt Earp, Nixon, Beautiful Girls, and Double Jeopardy, and TV movies, including Don't Look Back and What Loves Sees.

In spite of her lengthy resume, Gish auditioned for Carter, his team and Fox network brass in December. She got the final nod in early January. She previously worked with Patrick on an NBC pilot that didn't get picked up.

Twelve hour days are the norm on the X-Files set, and Gish is learning to handle a firearm, an essential prop for her FBI character.

"I've already done a scene where I'm holding my gun and flashlight and faking authority," she said, laughing. "They work with us, teaching us to shoot. It's more the way you look, so its authentic FBI, like you know what you're doing."

Gish hasn't seen scripts for her other three episodes. "We get them the week before. Chris Carter and his writers are so brilliant, there aren't many line changes - no new pages of dialogue to learn at the last minute. It's a luxury."

The long hours don't bother Gish because she can sleep in her own bed. After making five movies and spending a grand total of 15 days in Los Angeles last year, she's enjoying being at home. In her spare time she practices yoga, hikes and reads ("I'm trying to keep my brain as alive as possible in this town").

Gish made five movies last year, all slated for release in 2001 although official dates haven't been set: Morning; Pursuit of Happiness, with Frank Whaley; Race to Space, with James Wood, Buying the Cow, with Jerry O'Connell; and a PBS Masterpiece Theatre movie, A Death in the Family, also starring James Cromwell.

She is the daughter of Robert and Judith Gish, who now live in California.
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