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The X-Files Magazine: Agent in Training

The X-Files Magazine [US]
Agent in Training

[typed by Donna]

It’s a cold, rainy day in supposedly sunny L.A., but the weather can’t dampen Annabeth Gish’s spirits. While the precipitation grows steadily more tumultuous, the Iowa native calmly prepares to be transformed by The X-Files’ hair and makeup technicians into Special Agent Monica Reyes. A noticeable glint flashes in Gish’s eyes as she sits comfortably inside her trailer parked outside of Stage Five on the Twentieth Century Fox lot describing her new role on the series. Although it’s only her second day of shooting on the show, she’s already more than familiar with many aspects of the character.

“When I was reading the script [for ‘This Is Not Happening’], I thought, ‘Who’s been watching me in my life?’ because it seems really fitting for my personality,” explains Gish, who is perhaps best known for her roles in Double Jeopardy, Beautiful Girls, Shag and Mystic Pizza, and who can be seen this year in the PBS adaptation of A Death in the Family and the feature films, Race to Space, Pursuit of Happiness and Buying the Cow. “She’s open and spiritual, and she’s not a skeptic or a believer. She’s riding that line.

It’s something that appealed to me personally because [if you] go and look at all the books on my bookshelves and next to my bed, it’s such an eclectic display of spiritual searching and physics and science and all of that. There’s a real spiritual aspect to this character, and to tie my acting skills to something that I also am personally intrigued by is exciting. That’s the most exciting thing to me-knowing that I’m going to go on a journey as much as my character is.”

An FBI agent from the New Orleans field office with a master’s degree in religious studies and a specialization in ritualistic crime, Reyes is introduced in “This Is Not Happening” when Special Agent John Doggett, who has a past with her that will be explored more fully in future episodes, requests her help with a strange case. Although Reyes’ spiritual openness is in direct contrast to Doggett’s knee-jerk skepticism, the character was created mainly as a complement to Doggett. Executive producer Frank Spotnitz says he feared Doggett may become the odd man out when Mulder returned to the show.

“We were looking at a series with three leads-Mulder, Doggett and Scully-and thought it would be awkward,” Spotnitz explains. “It felt like the believer/skeptic weights were off balance, and we needed somebody else in the believer column.”

Needing to find an actress to portray Reyes in a hurry but not wanting to rush the character’s development, Spotnitz and Chris Carter decided to kill two birds with one stone and let the casting of Reyes influence the evolution of the role.

“We had [casting director] Rick Millikan bring in all the actresses in town who would be interested in doing something like this, but we didn’t have the character yet, so we couldn’t tell them anything about the character,” Spotnitz says. “They didn’t have lines to read. They just came in and we talked to them. We looked for somebody who had an interesting personality to set alongside David [Duchovny] and Gillian [Anderson] and Robert [Patrick]. And Annabeth Gish was the clear choice. We met a lot of wonderful actresses, but she was the one who had this kind of spark to her that just seemed like it would be really interesting. And it’s gonna change the show again, which I think is a good thing for the series. She’s the type of character we’ve never seen on The X-Files before. She’s kind of looser, funny, more of a free thinker, and it gives the show a different feel.”

Rather than be intimidated by the expectations set upon her character, Gish is thrilled by the challenge. “Robert’s addition has infused some new energy into the show this year, and it’s exciting to think that I can try to do that, too,” she says. “Not that there’s any lack of anything already, but [it’s great] just to throw another piece of paint on the canvas.”

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One Response to “The X-Files Magazine: Agent in Training”

  1. […] Indeed, the character of Reyes was introduced at this point to help “balance” the show’s cast, which was really moving beyond the two-lead template for the first time: […]