THE X-FILES SEASON 9: Q & A WITH ANNABETH GISH (July 2004)
Annabeth Gish, 33, has been acting since her early teens. Movies of note include Mystic Pizza (1988), Wyatt Earp (1994) and Double Jeopardy (1999). She joined the cast of The X-Files in 2001, playing Special Agent Monica Reyes in the showís final two seasons (8 and 9).
Question: Your parents are both professors and your sisterís a teacher. Was there any pressure to follow in their footsteps ? Did they freak out when you told them you wanted to be an actress ?
Annabeth: I think to a certain degree they still flip out and wish Iíd become a teacher, because they know this career is a difficult one and certainly not as stable as being an academic sort. I just knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an actress, so they had a lot of time to get used to the idea.
Question: Thereís a lot of confusion as to whether or not youíre related to silent screen star Lillian Gish. Could you clear that up ?
Annabeth: That story persists no matter how many times I try to set it straight. My grandmotherís name was Lillian Gish, but she was not the movie star. I donít mind the association, though, because Gish was an amazing actress. I did correspond with her when I was young and she told me to stay as far away as possible from the film industry! She said, Ďstay where people love youí.
Question: So you totally ignored her, then ?
Annabeth: I did. I remember being quite confused when she sent me that letter because the night after I received it there was this big AFI [American Film Institute] tribute to her and she was simply glorious. I remember thinking, ĎGod, I still want thatí. But everything she said was true, you know. It is a very difficult, not always friendly, not always easy life.
Question: Were you a fan of The X-Files before you got involved ?
Annabeth: I was into the show when it first came out. It was instantly interesting and compelling. I was in college at the time and a lot of people in my dorm would congregate to watch it. It became a weekly event. So I remember the first and second seasons, but Iíve never been an avid watcher of any one programme, and didnít see much more of it until it came time to audition and join the cast.
Question: What do you make of the showís fans ?
Annabeth: I was a bit overwhelmed at first. People kept telling me to beware [of] the fans, that they were these in-your-face Trekkie types, but I have to be honest and say that theyíve never been less than completely gracious and welcoming. Theyíve ushered me on to a new level of fame, and I appreciate their support.
Question: What was it like to be the new girl on such an established series ?
Annabeth: I remember trying not to think about it a lot, because if I had it would have been very stressful. I just put my trust in the writing, which was great, and hoped that since I felt compelled and challenged by what I was doing, that the fans would respond the same way. At first they were a bit upset that another female was coming in, but as soon as they got to know me and my character they began to trust me.
Question: How did you get along with Robert Patrick, who joined the series a year before you ?
Annabeth: He was my life raft because he knew what I was going through. I love Robert so much. Heís like a big brother to me. He has this amazing energy. He is insistent on infusing this very masculine, ballsy kind of energy into every scene he plays. He was great to work with.
Question: Did you enjoy playing Monica Reyes ?
Annabeth: I did - very, very much. I learned so much. The writing that Chris Carter demands on the show amps up your brain. I had to function at a higher mental level. In order for me to believe what I was saying I had to understand it, so I studied. I would guess that X-Files fans have much higher IQs than people hooked on reality shows.
Question: Was the programme as physically demanding as it was mentally ?
Annabeth: Iíd never done a series before, certainly not one as rigorous as The X-Files, so I had to learn endurance as well. I didnít get a lot of sleep. We often worked fourteen, sixteen-hour days and I had to work hard to keep my energy levels up. I remember one episode where we were all so sleep deprived it was hard not to laugh hysterically every time we tried to speak. The most demanding episode for me was "Audrey Pauley" [Season 9], which was great because I got to do a bunch of stunts. I did a 40-foot fall which was exciting, my indoctrination to big stunt work.
Question: Do you have anything in common with Monica ? Specifically, do you believe in aliens ?
Annabeth: I donít believe in aliens per se, but I like to keep an open mind. Do I believe in one-eyed monsters ? No. Do I think thereís some sort of energy or life force existing on other planets ? Yes. Like Monica Iím attracted to a spiritual perspective, and open to those experiences. Having played her for two seasons I think Iím even more open minded that I was before, and have a greater curiosity as well.
Question: The X-Files DVDs always include lots of extra features. Are you a fan of all the supplementary stuff you get on DVDs ?
Annabeth: I am. I just rented Donnie Darko and was fascinated by the directorís commentary. Itís a great thing for fans to have access to because itís a class. Itís like going to school.
Question: Did you contribute to The X-Files Season 9 extras ?
Annabeth: I did a bit of commentary and interviewing for it, but I think most of that was left to Chris Carter and the writers because obviously they were the ones making all the creative decisions. But Iím excited to watch it. I havenít seen the Season 9 DVDs yet, and I canít wait to hear what everyone has to say.
Question: Youíve been acting since childhood. How do you think youíve grown as an actress ?
Annabeth: When you start out young most of the time youíre operating on instinct. Itís not really craft yet. Iíve become much better over the years on the technical side, using my voice, using my body, those kind of things. And Iím a more secure human being as well. Now Iím looking for my own TV series or more film work. I just finished the film of The Celestine Prophecy, so weíll see. Iím looking forward to a new era.