In tonight’s season finale of The X-Files, there’s one familiar face you might not have noticed before. Aliza Vellani will be reprising her role as Nurse Sandeep from the season premiere in the final episode, and LA Fan Cultures Examiner talked to her about the opportunity to play the character a second time and just being part of a massive TV fandom.
Aliza said that she was very surprised to get the part in the first place. “I went into that audition room and did my usual thing; I didn’t really think much of it,” she recalled. “I was thinking there were so many people involved in auditioning and really involved in the process, and I was thrilled that I was going to be a part of the series.”
“I was only supposed to come into the first episode in the beginning,” she revealed. “I had no idea that I was coming back. I didn’t know until about two weeks before filming the finale that they wanted me to come back, which was amazing.”
A positive of being recalled meant that her previously unknown OR nurse character got an identity. “The name Sandeep wasn’t added until much later,” she explained. “There’s actually an interesting story to that. Sandeep is the name of someone in the administration office. The character was named after her during the process of filming the series, which is really sweet of [creator] Chris Carter to do, and it was a lot of fun to hear that was where the name came from.”
This is the latest of multiple occasions that Aliza has played a nurse, following appearances on USA’s original series Rush and more recently in the Lifetime TV-movie Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart. Does she think there’s something about her that makes casting directors see her as a medical professional?
“You know what? I try not to question it and just enjoy it,” she said. “My family and I have this little joke – instead of having to pay for medical school I just have to play a doctor on TV, it’s the same thing. It’s quite funny.”
Though she may not have a huge role on The X-Files, she explained that it’s not the size of the part but the quality of the project that matters. “I’m so grateful whenever I do get to play any different characters,” she told us. “I always get to work with amazing people. I think that’s what I judge my success on. I get to work with more seasoned actors the more I go forward in my career. How many people get to say they worked beside Gillian Anderson?
“It was amazing, and I was able to learn so much from her, watching her go from scene to scene and jump back into a role she’s played for 20 years,” she continued. “I would only hope that if I ever do get a chance to work on a series as a regular again, that I would be able to take what I learned from her and apply it to my own series.”
Aliza told us that ultimately she’s just grateful that she gets to pursue her passion. “Not a lot of people get to say that nowadays,” she explained, “and I think that’s something everyone should try and do at least once is to try and follow your passion, see where it goes. You never know where you’re going to end up. So I’m just very grateful that I had an amazing support system that could really encourage me to pursue my passion and stay with it.”
The X-Files concludes tonight at 8 p.m. on FOX. Aliza can also be found on Instagram (@alizavel) and on Twitter (@AlizaVellani).