INTERVIEW WITH ANNABETH GISH (June 2004)
To tie in with the recent release of The X Files Season Nine DVD box set, Annabeth Gish - Special Agent Monica Reyes - took time to chat with us about her work on the show. Prepare to be amazed when she reveals which website she turns to when checking her X Files facts!
Question: Did you find joining The X Files a daunting prospect ?
Annabeth: I was daunted by the prospect of adding a new female element and energy to an already well-established, complicated mythology. But it was a worthwhile adventure, and a very good experience for me.
Question: What was creator Chris Carter looking for in the character of Monica ?
Annabeth: From the time of my first meeting with the producers, I know that they were looking for a very specific energy from Monica. They used the terms 'sunny', 'light' and 'open-minded', but I also think that you had a woman who was attracted to the dark side. It was another color to throw into that basement office.
Question: Did you receive any good advice from Gillian Anderson ?
Annabeth: Sleep ! She was such an old hand at maneuvering through the rigorous hours – how to rest, to feed yourself and take care of yourself - which was really a very important thing to do. I learned a lot by watching her, as she had been doing this so many years prior to me.
Question: Given the chance would you like to be Monica Reyes, rather than Annabeth Gish ?
Annabeth: No disrespect to my life, but yes. I wouldn't choose her over me, but I thought that she was such a fascinating woman and I quite miss her, actually. I feel like I didn't get to know her well enough, and that there was so much more to tell about her and Doggett. She was an interesting woman.
Question: How has the fan reaction been over the years ?
Annabeth: Well, I can't speak for all of the fans, obviously, but I was surprised by them. I think that was the most daunting aspect of the show – knowing that there was a very solid fan base that were very supportive to Mulder and Scully and they were the people who needed to accept me. Whilst there might have been some skepticism from the get-go, I was then surprised how welcoming they were. This was the largest show I had been involved in any capacity, and I've been pleasantly surprised, particularly by the international fan reaction I have received.
Question: What's the oddest thing a fan has ever sent you ?
Annabeth: People had warned me that sci fi fans are freaky, but, for example, every year for my birthday I get this marvelous collection of birthday wishes through the internet. It's stunning to me, and quite moving, just the level and cross-section of people who have been joined together.
Question: Did the complexity of the show cause difficulties, coming to it so late ?
Annabeth: Personally, as an actor, I love to do research. I remember at one point that I came onto your website, because it has such an extensive [episode] breakdown and it was a recommended website for me to go to. I remember speaking to Chris and saying, "I cannot catch up on all this mythology," and he said, "You can't and you won't, so just come in as Monica – it's not like Monica had been watching the show either." I could therefore play the reality of my character – her being a novice as well.
Question: What do you really think happens at Area 51 ?
Annabeth: I think a lot of scary stuff. I'm from New Mexico originally, and I have driven by Area 51 before. It's just this fenced-in piece of desert. Maybe nothing happens there. I may not be as much of a conspiracy theorist as Mulder, but I do think that there is a lot of stuff going on there that we don't know about.
Question: Were you involved in the extras for the new Season Nine DVD box set ?
Annabeth: As we were filming, we would do lots of electronic press kit interviews to discuss the shooting of the episodes, so I think you will find that these DVDs are like going to X Files School. You get to find out a lot of information that you wouldn't otherwise. It's quite informative, quite educational. I love DVDs. Sometimes it does get a little too deconstructive – I just like to watch a movie at some point. But you can go to a movie theatre to watch a movie, but then come home and go to school.
Question: You recently married a fight arranger. Has he helped you with your stunt skills ?
Annabeth: The irony is that Chris Carter introduced us. He was supposed to give me some weapons training, but we fell in love instead. I'm a lover, not a fighter. Obviously, in future, I know who to go to.
Question: Do you think you will be involved in the proposed new X Files film ?
Annabeth: I'm not sure, but I don't think Doggett and Reyes are involved in the next film. Understandably, I think that it will be a Mulder and Scully film – a continuation of the last movie. I have to be honest and say that it is disappointing, because I like Monica so much, but I understand.
Question: What was the most challenging aspect of working on the show ?
Annabeth: One would be the actual physical stamina needed to do the show, all the action and drama every week was taxing. The other thing that was complicated was the dialogue. It was very scientific and very technical, so you really had to study up.
Question: Tell us about your new film, The Celestine Prophecy.
Annabeth: I just wrapped that recently, and I think it will be coming out next spring. It was quite a big best-selling book here in the United States, a spiritual adventure tale. I play a woman who is a linguist and is transcribing old, Aramaic scripts that are supposed to change the consciousness of the planet.
Question: Will you continue to appear in The West Wing ?
Annabeth: I did three episodes this season and I will have a recurring role next season as well.
Question: Are the two shows very different to work on ?
Annabeth: I think The West Wing was a bit more of an ensemble, and the pace was even quicker than on The X Files. The political bent was a bit more challenging for me, compared with the spiritual, metaphysical action, but both were incredibly high quality shows, so I was honored to join those casts.
Question: Has The X Files or The West Wing made you more suspicious of how America is run ?
Annabeth: Especially looking at the climate right now, I think that our political structure has to be re-evaluated. I think it would be good for the X Files crew to investigate the White House!
Question: Any final message for the fans ?
Annabeth: The X Files was a thrill to be a part of, and I hope the fans enjoy season nine on DVD.