How Gillian Anderson helped shape Agent Scully's character

In 1995, Gillian Anderson told CBC the story of how a borrowed suit helped inform her take on the character of The X-Files' Agent Scully.

The X-Files star describes how Dana Scully was developed from the start

Gillian Anderson describes how her choice of outfit for her audition for Dana Scully influenced the character's signature look. 2:00

The X-Files is a show that is built on secrets.

Gillian Anderson, seen here in a 1997 photo from the Golden Globes, has played the character of Agent Scully on The X-Files since the show premiered in 1993. (Reed Saxon/AP)

One such secret revealed to CBC viewers in 1995 was the story behind Agent Dana Scully's personal style.

As actor Gillian Anderson told CBC's Midday, she wore an outfit to her audition for the series that somehow informed her take on the character.

'Somewhat frumpy'

"I borrowed a suit from a friend of mine … she looked very good in oversized suits and clothes," said Anderson, who turns 50 on August 9.

"So, I walked into the first audition for The X-Files in a very oversized suit and looked somewhat frumpy in that way."

Anderson said that the show's creator, Chris Carter, saw something in her that made him feel like she was speaking to the character he had written.

"He really pushed for me to have the role," Anderson said.

A 'deadpan' style?

The Scully character, as all X-Files fans will know, is the sensible, scientific foil to her partner on the show — Agent Fox Mulder, who was played by David Duchovny.

Both actors would play the characters across 11 seasons of the Vancouver-shot show, as well as two big-screen outings as Mulder and Scully.

Asked about the "deadpan" style of communication between the two series leads, Anderson said it was all in the scripts.

Gillian Anderson said the manner in which she and her X-Files co-star David Duchovny -- both of whom are shown here in a 2013 file photo -- communicated on the screen was largely dictated by the scripts they were working from. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"Chris Carter, from the beginning, has had a very strong perception of who these characters are and he has a very specific formula that he wants us to keep to," she said.

"And he never really talked about a deadpan nature between the two of us and David and I certainly never had discussions about that specifically."

Gillian Anderson, on the set of the popular sci-fi television show The X-Files, talks to CBC about the show. 2:18

She did offer an alternate theory — that sometimes she and Duchovny were simply tired from filming the show and that's how the dialogue came across.

Is the real-life Scully a 'believer'?

In spite of playing the skeptic, Anderson herself claims to be a little bit of a "believer," when prodded by Midday co-host Brent Bambury to talk about an experience in her personal life. 

When speaking with Midday, she described a "strange feeling" that she had after moving into a house in Vancouver, and how she called on help to "cleanse the house of anything that might be lingering from the past." Which fortunately, for X-Files fans, seemed to work.  

The actress, who plays skeptical Agent Scully on the sci-fi show The X-Files, talks about her own experience in her Vancouver house. 1:17