When the original TV series The X-Files premiered in 1993, actress Gillian Anderson was 25 and completely unknown in Hollywood. Her co-star David Duchovny, by comparison, was 33 and known for the erotic drama Red Shoe Diaries.
At the time when the two actors signed their contracts (for emphasis, this was over 20 years ago), Duchovny was set to earn more than Anderson. According to the actress, in an interview with The Daily Beast, it took three years of hard work on the show for her to close the wage gap. The studio, Fox, even insisted that Anderson stay a few steps behind Duchovny on camera when she first started.
“I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick,” Anderson said about the “rule” in the interview. “Or that, somehow, maybe it was enough of a change just to see a woman having this kind of intellectual repartee with a man on camera, and surely the audience couldn’t deal with actually seeing them walk side by side!”
It’s hard to imagine a similar issue would be faced by Anderson two decades later as she signed on to star in the X-Files reboot, but, apparently, that’s what happened.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Anderson was offered half the pay of Duchovny to star in the upcoming miniseries. Both actors are reprising the same roles they did in 1993, and based on sneak peeks, it looks like a very similar show, so there doesn’t seem to be any justification as to why she was earning less.
“I’m surprised that more [interviewers] haven’t brought that up because it’s the truth,” Anderson added of the pay disparity. “Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it’s important that it gets heard and voiced. It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly. I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it.”
“Even in interviews in the last few years, people have said to me, ‘I can’t believe that happened, how did you feel about it, that is insane.’ And my response always was, ‘That was then, this is now.’ And then it happened again! I don’t even know what to say about it.”
“It is… sad,” Anderson said. “It is sad.”
In the end, the actress managed to secure equal pay to Duchovny’s. (She hasn’t revealed how she managed to get it.)
Since the original X-Files TV series wrapped, both Duchovny and Anderson have gone on to other projects, to varying degrees of success — Duchovny starred in Californication and Anderson in Bleak House and The Fall.
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