Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny say they learned to appreciate being known for "The X-Files" characters that made them sci-fi sex symbols more than 20 years ago.

Actress Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny attend the premiere of Fox's 'The X-Files' at California Science Center on January 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

"It took me a long time to embrace it after we were done with the series," Anderson said Friday, joining Duchovny and series creator Chris Carter at a TV critics' meeting to promote the upcoming six-episode reboot of the Fox series.

"It took a good decade for me to start thinking of it as the gift that it was and appreciate the opportunity I had and how fortunate I was to play a great, iconic character in a show that was iconic in itself," said Anderson.

Duchovny, who played FBI agent Fox Mulder to Anderson's agent Scully in the 1993-2002 drama, said that perspective was key to revisiting it. "The X-Files" debuts Jan. 24 on Fox, with Joel McHale a new addition.

"It took awhile to recognize it as the gift that it is, and that's why we're able to come back now," Duchovny said. "It acted as a spur to me to go out and actually do more work, to keep expanding myself as an artist. ... It was both a gift and a spur to not settle after it was done."

Both followed the "X-Files" and its two follow-up movies with very different work. Duchovny starred in Showtime's "Californication" and branched into writing books and music. Anderson appeared in a variety of stage and screen projects that included classics "Bleak House" and "Great Expectations," both for TV.

The actors were asked to discuss the on-screen chemistry they shared in "X-Files" as their characters waded through government plots and crimes with bizarre twists.

"There is something extra, and I don't know what that is. It seems like it's separate from us," Anderson said.

"You can feel it right now," Duchovny said, drawing laughs. "But I think at this point, having known each other and worked together so much for the last, over 20 years, we've gone beyond chemistry to history, which is a really cool thing to play as well."

"We have chemistry and history, and we're going try to get biology," he added with a smile.

Carter said the limited run will include "mythology" episodes, such as those in the original series that focused on Mulder's effort to prove a government cover-up about aliens on Earth. There's also a comedic-slash-horror episode, which also harkens back to the original "X-Files" formula.

The Lone Gunmen conspiracy-theory trio also will be back, although they did "meet their maker" in a previous season, Carter said, explaining that "they're actually back in a fantasy."

"Scully's fantasy," Anderson said, smiling.

Whether more "X-Files" episodes are ahead remains to be seen.

"I'm waiting for Fox to come back and say we want more of these," Carter said.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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