Emmy flashback: When ‘American Crime’ star Lili Taylor saw dead people on ‘The X-Files’

Lili Taylor is nominated for an Emmy for Best Movie/Mini Actress for her performance as Anne Blaine, a mother seeking justice for son, an alleged rape victim, in ABC’a anthology series “American Crime.” But it’s not her first recognition from the TV academy. That came 18 years ago when she was nominated for Best Drama Guest Actress for playing a very different woman in “The X-Files” – different, but every bit as headstrong.

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In the fifth season “X-Files” episode “Mind’s Eye,” Taylor played Marty Glenn, a blind woman suspected of murder. How could she commit the crime with no eyesight? And if she’s not a murderer, how does she know so many details of the crime? As the mystery unfolds we learn that Marty has a psychic link with the murderer, who she’s surprised to learn is also her father. If she aids in his capture, he’ll go to prison and she’ll be trapped there with him seeing it through his eyes, so instead she lures him to her and kills him instead. The result: Marty ends up in prison, but at least she never has to see it.

Taylor’s character of Anne in “American Crime” is a fragile woman full of regret and desperation. Marty Glenn is the same, but her vulnerability is concealed under a thick coat of pride, anger and sarcasm. When Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) learns what she’s had to live through – all her life seeing through murderous eyes – we understand where her toughness comes from and she starts to let down her guard.

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“The X-Files” was at the height of its Emmy popularity in 1998. That year it earned 16 nominations including Best Drama Series. Taylor was joined in the Drama Guest Actress race by another “X-Files” guest, Veronica Cartwright, but neither of them won. That award went to Cloris Leachman for her guest turn on CBS’s “Promised Land.” That turned out to be the sixth of Leachman’s record eight Emmy acting wins; she went on to win Best Comedy Guest Actress twice for “Malcolm in the Middle” (2002, 2006).

Taylor was just 31 when she earned that Emmy nom, but by then she was already a darling on the independent film scene, boasting four nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards between 1991 and 1996, winning Best Supporting Actress for “Household Saints” in 1993.

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In 1996, Taylor also earned critical acclaim for her performance in “I Shot Andy Warhol” as real-life radical feminist Valerie Solanas, who shot Warhol in 1968. Taylor won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her performance, was nominated for Best Actress by the Chicago film critics, and finished third at the National Society of Film Critics, tied with eventual Oscar champ Frances McDormand in “Fargo.” So Taylor had already built an impressive resume by the time she visited “The X-Files” two years later.

Taylor was nominated for Best Drama Guest Actress again in 2002 for “Six Feet Under.” She played Lisa, the first wife of Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) and the mother of his daughter Maya, but she was murdered at the end of season three. Too bad Marty Glenn didn’t see that coming.

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