THE X-REYES (May 2002)
She may be the new babe on the X-Files block, but all things must come to an end, as star Annabeth Gish tells Bryan Cairns...
Forget any dreams of Hollywood glamour you might have. "The first shot I ever did was at 3am in the morning," says Annabeth Gish, recalling her entry into the world of The X-Files, "on a dark hillside an hour and a half outside of LA. It was an unknown crew, I didn't know anyone, and I had to run down a hill yelling, 'Stop! I'm a federal agent!' It was quite the introduction to The X-Files. I was very nervous. I remember being determine to do a good job on this show because I have such respect for what it is."
Some things don't change. A year later, Gish is the joint-lead of the seires, and while it's mid-afternoon on a shiny Saturday where everybody but the vampires have been kicked out of bed, she's catching up on her sleep after shooting until the crack of dawn on one of the series' final episodes. William is directed by returning star David Duchhovny, and this particular scene involves the entire cast: Reyes, Doggett and Scully and her baby William. So do such nocturnal shoots get easier with time?
"I've become more accustomed to it," Annabeth Gish says, with an air of resignation. "My endurance levels, my stamina is stronger, and I've got the rhythm of the show. It's just a challenging show to do."
Even getting onto the show was a challenge. In an age when series leads are tested, screen-tested and re-tested, Gish's character originally infiltrated The X Files as a supporting character in season eight's This Is Not Happening, where she got up, close and personal with UFOs, cults, and alien healers. Afterwards, Reyes was only meant to appear in three subsequent episodes before disappearing, but something happened. Gish got 'The Call,' asking her to become a series regular in season nine. Along with Patrick, it was rumoured at the time that the duo were being groomed as replacements for Duchovny and Anderson if they departed the show. Yet Reyes always offered more than a Scully clone. She was an occult specialist who on more than one occasion has premonitions and apparently the gift to sense evil.
"I think she's highly intuitive," reflects Gish. "I wouldnt say she has ESP, she's just extremely sensitive."
And while Mulder, Doggett, and Scully could be as uptight and stiff as their starch-sprayed shirt collars, Reyes infused a certain amount of youthfulness, romance, and a fresh outlook on the X-Team.
"She's notably more open-minded, sunnier, but I think being those things, she's always had to battle being different in the FBI," explains Gish. "I think that's why the X-Files is such a good fit for her because it's sort of like a left field of the FBI. But here's the thing. I don't think she believed in half the stuff she saw before she joined the X-Files. She believed but she didn't even see what the possibilities really were. What she's witness in the X-Files has expanded her belief tremendously."
Reyes was also thrown in the mix to raise some heat and shake-up the relationships. In This Is Not Happening, it was revealed she shared a past with Doggett which was explored more later in Empedocles. When Assistant Director Brad Follmer (Cary Elwes) entered the equation, he greeted Reyes with a passionate kiss. Turns out she used to be his old flame and he is still burning a torch for her. Plus, there's no denying the chemistry between Doggett and Scully. For a non-soap opera, cupid's bow has been strung into overdrive. So who ends up with who?
"In any dramatic ensemble, it's always good to have attraction and unrequited desire but in the episodes we've shot, they are actually pursuing the connection between Doggett and Reyes in an exciting way," dishes Gish. "Meaning, we're going to get to see some action."
Although getting intimate with handsome Doggett must rank up there on Reyes' best moments list, there are plenty of others. She's had her throat slashed in the alternate world hopping episode 4-D, she was cocooned in Lord Of The Flies and, most recently, Reyes has been one of the only friends Scully can trust. However, there are certain high points that stand out for Gish.
"It's all cool," she gushes. "There's some days I'm working and I'm thinking, 'Oh my God! This is so cool what I'm shooting right now!' Episodically, I think that Empedocles was great. It was a wonderful episode to get to know who Reyes is. John Doe was another. I think the episode Existence where she delivers Scully's baby was a shining moment. And there's other great ones coming up too."
Arguably, The X-Files has maintained a healthy balance between the macabre, the extraterrestrials, and the covert goings-on of those enigmatic suits. While Gish enjoys all three elements, she admits to frequent cases of the heebie jeebies while acting out in those tense terror-filled sequences.
"Yes, I do get scared," she laughs. "I'm a sensitive person when it comes to horror so there are things I see that are like 'Oh man, get out of the way! That's just creepy.' For instance, in Daemonicus, there's a man spewing green bile. That was pretty trippy. The make-up is so realistic. Hellbound was gross too. We filmed that in a meat locker and that was making me nauseous."
Unfortunately, as the old saying chimes, all good things must come to an end. After nine years on the air hunting down aliens, investigating the unknown, and dealing with twisted conspiracies, The X-Files is closing down shop. Once a ratings juggernaut, the show has slowly been slipping in viewers over the last couple of years. Arguably, it could have survived another season so when creator Chris Carter broke the cancellation news to Gish, it came as a shock.
"I was surprised, he caught me off guard when he told me," she says. "I wasn't expecting it at that time at all. Everybody was wondering what was going to happen next season. It was kind of bittersweet in the sense it was disappointing because I was just hitting stride with Monica and wanting to know more and do more with her. I also appreciate The X Files is a much larger thing than me and my character. In that sense, I appreciate very much how they've decided to elegantly close their curtain on their terms."
With enough dangling plot lines to strangle both Mulder and Scully, The X-Files has a lot of wrapping up to do. As a long-time fan from her college days, Gish would personally like to see the return of Cigarette Smoking Man. Not that she's giving any clues. As always, the stories and what lies ahead are shrouded in mystery. What Gish does promise is there are still plenty of startling revelations about her character looming in the horizon and long-term viewers will finally see some of their burning questions answered. Of course, Reyes will be right there in the thick of it all.
"With bringing everyone back, they are tying up loose ends," comments Gish. "It's cool because I get to relate to so many specific characters. Monica Reyes is a recognized card carrying member of the X-Files staff. She has a good relationship with The Lone Gunmen and Skinner so she fits right in."
Even though her tenure on The X-Files has been shorter than that of her co-stars, Gish has tasted the hard work that goes into producing a top notch show on a consistent basis. With that said, when asked about the pains and perks of her job, her response time is almost uncanny.
"The lack of sleep," chuckles Gish about the cons. "We shoot at least 12 hours daily, most often 14-16. Then trying to fit sleep in there before you have to learn your lines for the next day and have a life. On the other hand, I have had so many positive experiences. Definitely working with Chris, Frank, Robert, and Gillian. I, as well as Monica, have become more open-minded too."
"It's got important stories to tell to all of is," she says about the secret of the show's appeal. "I think because it raises questions that are eerie but have a realistic element to them, there's nothing so far fetched that it's not impossible. And that the truth is out there and like Mulder's poster, we all want to believe in something whether it is government conspiracies or alien ships or God or whatever."