Interview: Annabeth Gish
When the television series The X-Files ended its run on Fox in May of 2002, many fans were left wondering would the series ever come back. Yes, they did eventually get two films, but many fans wanted their X-Files fix on a weekly basis.
Flash forward to January of 2016 and the fans who have worked so hard to bring their favorite series back to television seem to have succeeded as Fox premiered the first episode of The X-Files six-episode event series. Unfortunately, due to his schedule, Robert Patrick wasn’t available to return, but actress Annabeth Gish has returned as Monica Reyes for the final episode of the event series.
Annabeth is no stranger to the small screen. She’s had memorable appearances on series such as The West Wing, Sons of Anarchy and The Bridge. She currently has a recurring role on the hit ABC series Scandal.
Today we sit down with Annabeth to talk about her return to The X-Files, her recurring role on the hit ABC series Scandal and how the fans played a big role in The X-files return.
Pop Culture Principle – What were your initial thoughts when you found out that The X-Files would actually be coming back for a limited event series?
Annabeth Gish – You know, I had heard whisperings of it and was crossing my fingers, and a) was hoping it would come back, and b) was hoping that I would be invited to join. I just had this gut feeling, and I knew that it would come back. When I heard that it was coming back, as a fan, I was excited because I do think there is an endless amount of stories that The X-Files can tell. The second wave of excitement came when Chris Carter called and said that he wanted Monica Reyes to come back. That really filled my heart with happiness.
Pop Culture Principle – Did you have any doubt that your character would make an appearance in the revival?
Annabeth Gish – Yes, absolutely, because I knew schedule wise it was difficult with Robert and I was obviously hoping in my perfect dream world that Doggett and Reyes would come back. But, understandably with Robert’s schedule, it didn’t work out. I was curious to see how they would bring me in solo and, now that we’ve shot it and it’s going to air, it’s a wonderful story point.
Pop Culture Principle – What was it like for you when you first stepped on set as Monica Reyes again?
Annabeth Gish – You know, it was a little weird and sort of surreal. We were shooting in Vancouver at this old psychiatric hospital, so there were all sorts of elements that were confusing. When I say weird, I mean that in a good way, especially since I am coming back with different elements to my character. All in all, it took about five minutes once back on set and, when I heard Chris’ voice say “Action!” it sort of grounded me back into the world of The X-Files. It’s also interesting that this is the first time that I have ever revisited a character.
Pop Culture Principle – Coming back to this character all these years later, was it easy to slip back into her mindset even though your character is at a different place in her life compared to when you last left her?
Annabeth Gish – Yes, I think just personally as an actress, I felt even fuller now with what I could bring back to Monica’s reality. So, in a weird way, it was perfect. Also, doing scenes with Gillian Anderson, in a heartbeat you are snapped back into this rhythm and this familiarity.
Pop Culture Principle – How protective have you become of Monica Reyes?
Annabeth Gish – I’m fiercely devoted to her. Protective is a weird word because I feel, like with so much of The X-Files, the fans investment in our characters imbues a lot, so it’s weird to say that I am protective of Monica when the reason she’s back is because of the fans. Some may have been wary of embracing me at the beginning and there are still some true diehards who never wanted Doggett and Reyes to join, but, for the most part, from the majority of people and the support I feel, people came on board with Monica. She’s never really been a threat to Scully.
I’ve always had a tremendous heart connection with Doggett and Reyes. But also there’s this connection between Doggett and Scully, and Reyes and Scully. I don’t think Mulder and Reyes had a huge connection, but it’s still all connected.
Pop Culture Principle – What can you tell us about the upcoming season finale episode, “My Struggle II”?
Annabeth Gish – Well, I think this final episode in this chapter answers some questions, while at the same time, of course, brings up more. There are never any truly solved questions or answers when it comes to The X-Files. It’s always this never-ending mystery which makes it so watchable.
I think this finale will have shocking elements to it. I was shocked and had to wrap my head around it. I think there is heart, and I think it’s a good episode and a good finale for this chapter.
Pop Culture Principle – The revival has done extremely well in the ratings and seems pretty much a lock to return. Would you like to come back for more episodes?
Annabeth Gish – Mulder and Scully are that franchise and I feel happy that I got to come back in this revival. Would I love to come back with Doggett and Reyes? Of course, but I don’t know how realistic that is, honestly. I am a yes person to The X-Files always because I have such a sentimentality for it.
Pop Culture Principle – Although Robert Patrick didn’t get to take part in this revival, what was it like working with him during Season Eight and Season Nine?
Annabeth Gish – Because Robert had stepped in prior to me and had some episodes already under his belt, he was a guide and a mentor. He truly was, and still is to this day, a partner. I can call him as a friend and touch base with him and ask questions. We still have a friendship that is genuine. Robert is agiver and is a warrior in his energy, but he is very generous. I think this Doggett and Reyes thing had such a special chemistry, and I just wish it could have been explored.
Pop Culture Principle – The fans of The X-Files have kept the flame burning for the series since the original series went off the air. What would you like to say to the fans who have supported the series?
Annabeth Gish – They are the reason that this is happening. I would say there is a tremendous respect for the sheer force of the fandom because they have created this event and it’s a testament to their loyalty and passion. It’s funny, people are always asking me what the X-Files fandom is like and is it creepy. I have never experienced anything like that because they’ve always been fascinating, supportive, intellectual, and creative, so it’s all good.
Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think The X-Files had remained such a pop culture icon after all of these years?
Annabeth Gish – My gut response to that is somehow this show is a touchstone for asking and investigating questions that sort of interest all of us on many levels. Whether you are a scientist, whether you are a mystic, or whether you are a skeptic, it has such a wide attraction because it asks these mind-bending questions that, yet, still have a real soulful heart to them.
This is a good question and I don’t know why, but the fact that The X-Files can be relevant in the Nineties and still relevant today—we want answers and we want connection. We want to know what else is out there.
Pop Culture Principle – You now have a recurring role on the hit ABC series Scandal. How does it feel being part of a Shonda Rhimes series?
Annabeth Gish – Well, my first feeling is that I was happy to be back in the White House! Whether it is The West Wing, Nixon, or now Scandal, it seems like it is a happy place for Annabeth Gish. I have a lot of respect for Shonda, for what she does in the industry and the fierce characters that she creates. So I was ecstatic to join the cast.
Pop Culture Principle – What can you tell us about your character, Lillian Forrester?
Annabeth Gish – I think from what aired last night and from the preview that also aired last night via ABC, it’s clear that Lillian Forrester is intelligent, strong, sexy, and spicy. I think Shonda has an amazing ability to create these characters that are multi-note women. They can be tough, they can be strong, but they can be vulnerable and broken—just like anyone in real life.
Pop Culture Principle – The cast of Scandal is known for their social media interactions with their fans. Will you also be live tweeting along with the fans during your episodes?
Annabeth Gish – I am sort of daunted by it all because I don’t think I have ever participated in something like that. It’s a part of our job nowadays, but it’s also a good thing to be able to interact with your fans. There are people who are kind and there are people who are cruel, so it has to be carefully modulated, I would assume. You have to have a thick skin, I guess!
You can catch the season finale of The X-Files this Monday, February 22nd at 8/7c only on Fox. Annabeth can also be seen on Scandal which airs every Wednesday night at 9/8c on ABC.
**X-Files photos courtesy of Aaron Rapoport/Ed Araquel/Fox**