Gillian Anderson Opens up about Inequality on 'X-Files'

January 23rd 2016

Kylie Cheung

In time for the six-episode revival of "The X-Files" premiering this Sunday, actress Gillian Anderson discussed how she was offered half the pay for the new show compared to her co-star, David Duchovny.

"It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly,” she told The Daily Beast about the offer. She also disclosed her struggle for equal pay while working on the original series. 25 at the time of her first audition, Anderson had minimal screen credits while 33-year-old Duchovny had a few TV shows under his belt. 

It took Anderson three years to finally achieve pay equality with her male co-star on the original series, her compensation coming just before winning a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her role as Special Agent Dana Scully. 

After "The X-Files," she continued to bulk up her resume, starring in shows like “The Fall” and earning a best actress award at the London Evening Standard theater awards for her role in “A Streetcar Named Desire." Now, her lack of screen credit compared with Duchovny's can hardly be used as an excuse for the wage disparity between them. 

Related: Gender Pay Gap Revealed In Hollywood In New Chart

According to Think Progress, sources have claimed that Anderson has since won equal pay for the revival series, but as she points out herself, it's important that she brought attention to this. “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,” she said. “It is sad."

gillian anderson the x-files gender wage gap

Unfortunately, pay wasn't the only area where inequality existed for Anderson. According to her, the studio initially had her stand a few feet behind her male partner on camera and never step side-by-side with him. “I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick,” Anderson told The Daily Beast about the no-equal-footing rule. “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!”

Related: The Gender Gap in Hollywood is More Than Just Wage Disparity

Anderson's disclosure comes at time when the pay inequality between sexes is being fervently discussed in Hollywood. Recently, Jennifer Lawrence emerged as a vocal supporter for equal pay in Hollywood, penning an essay that called out the industry as well as the cultural attitudes that have made the gender wage gap a pervasive issue across so many industries. Both Anderson's and Lawrence's accounts reveal that women on screen (and off) still have a long way to go before egalitarian practices are put in place.