X-Files creator Chris Carter says studio execs told him Gillian Anderson wasn’t sexy enough

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I have not been shy here about my love of the OG era of The X-Files. I watched my first episode with my dad on my 14th birthday (it was the haunted doll episode “Chinga”), and I was hooked. I became obsessed. While I 100% had a crush on Fox Mulder, I also had a super girl crush on Dana Scully. Scully was the sh-t! She was a badass FBI agent who also struggled with her Catholic faith. She’s inspired so many procedural female characters since the series aired, too. Over the years, my love of Scully turned into a love of Gillian Anderson. I love her vibe and think she’s a fantastic actress with an empowered attitude.

Well, there may be another Universe in which Gillian doesn’t play Scully. X-Files creator Chris Carter has taken the George W. Bush route and pivoted to art. Random, I know. He has an exhibition in Los Angeles called the Chris Carter Collection, where he shows off his pottery, prints, and photo collages, as well as a small amount of memorabilia from the series to appeal to fans. During an interview with Inverse, Carter shared that he had to fight for Anderson to be cast as his female lead because Fox execs thought she “wasn’t their idea of sexy.”

There aren’t many reminders of The X-Files in his exhibition, but there were a few small tokens for fans of the series. In one corner of the studio, almost as a consolation prize, rests a case full of coveted memorabilia: an alien prop mask, a director’s slate from the revival, and the original casting sheet from the ‘90s.

The latter comes complete with Carter’s handwritten notes from auditions. Alongside David Duchovny’s name, who auditioned against hundreds for the role of Mulder: a simple “Yes.” Carter had similar feelings for Gillian Anderson, who went on to play Scully, but casting the actor wouldn’t be so easy.

“For Gillian I wrote ‘Test,’ which means I wanted to take her before the studio and the network,” Carter says. Fox famously wanted a bombshell type for Scully, ideally someone like Pamela Anderson. “Where’s the sex appeal?” Carter recalls executives saying. “Even though Gillian’s beautiful, she wasn’t their idea of sexy. First, because they didn’t understand what I was trying to do with the show. And she was an unknown, so that never helps.”

Duchovny, too, was a relative unknown, which made both castings more of a gamble than most realize now. But as the story goes, Carter fought hard for the actors, Fox conceded, and the rest is history.

“Ancient history,” Carter says wryly.

[From Inverse]

Imagine being the person who didn’t think Gillian freaking Anderson was sexy enough. I am certain that whoever was of that opinion has moved on and is too busy flying on their private jets to even remember thinking it, but still, boo on you, sir. She is the walking embodiment of sex appeal and coolness. I’m glad that Chris fought for her because I honestly cannot imagine a better actress to play Scully. It just goes to show you once again how out-of-touch the people on top are when it comes to executing a creative vision or really thinking outside of the box in general. ALSO, I know it was the 90s and a different era of casting, but I do hope that filmmakers and execs nowadays are more open to casting women who don’t fall under one specific category or standard of beauty. It would be rad if most movies or television shows were more representative of all of us.

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