By now, most people know that The X-Files, one of TV’s longest-running science fiction series ever, is coming back with all-new episodes this Sunday on FOX. For nine seasons starting in the early ’90s, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) captivated fans by investigating unexplained, paranormal cases and government conspiracies. And while the series may have started with a focus on Mulder (and Duchovny, who was the better known of the two at the time), The X-Files quickly grew to highlight both characters and actors equally by halfway through the first season.
Yet what many don’t realize is that it actually took much longer for Duchovny and Anderson to get equal pay for equal work. In fact, it wasn’t until three years into the original series (just before she won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her role) that Anderson was able to literally stand side-by-side on camera with Duchovny as co-lead and finally close the wage gap for good—or so she thought.
Speaking to The Daily Beast on the matter, Anderson recently attempted to sum up the original situation: “I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick.” Eventually, however, her character’s status changed and so did Anderson’s role on the series, but her pay remained lower for a while longer. “I don’t know how long it lasted or if it changed because I eventually said, ‘Fuck no! No!’” Anderson continues, “But I imagine it had more to do with my intolerance and spunk than it being an allowance that was made.”
However, all Anderson’s work seemed to be for naught when she once again found herself in the same predicament last year when negotiating for the upcoming X-Files revival. The actress recently revealed to THR that her initial salary offer was half of co-star Duchovny’s, despite their bodies of work since and Anderson staying on the original series for all nine seasons.
Anderson did eventually receive equal pay for the new event series, but she still wants everyone to know that unequal pay is a real issue:
“I’m surprised that more [interviewers] haven’t brought that up because it’s the truth. 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.
After Jennifer Lawrence spoke out about the gender wage gap last year, many criticized her comments by saying that because she wasn’t the star of American Hustle, she shouldn’t receive equal pay. With Anderson though it seems to be a completely different scenario. When it comes to The X-Files, there is no Mulder without Scully. The show even continued on for another two seasons past when Duchovny left, showing that Scully is just as much of a lead as Mulder.
Yet already on Reddit, people are attempting to justify that Duchovny does indeed deserves 50% more salary. Reasons cited include that his career has been more successful since The X-Files, his accomplishments have been greater and the ratings for his other series Californication were higher than Anderson’s. Regardless of all these comparisons (that can’t honestly be done objectively), both actors were essential to the series’ longevity and popularity, and neither one is worth twice as much.
The X-Files will return on Sunday, January 24th, 2016 on FOX.