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AT THE MOVIES

Despite pain, woman believes in better days thanks to 'X-Files'

July 24, 2008|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer
  • EAGER FAN: Kathy Green insists on walking into the movie theater.
EAGER FAN: Kathy Green insists on walking into the movie theater. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)

SAN DIEGO — Kathy GREEN has hardly been able to sleep the last few weeks. Her big day is almost here.

She's filled with anticipation for the Friday launch of "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," the new big-screen adaptation of the Fox TV drama series about the unexplainable and mysterious.

"All I've been able to think about is walking into the theater to see this movie," said the 51-year-old San Diegan, who plans to catch the film twice on opening day.

Although it's only a brief stroll from the cineplex parking lot to the theater entrance, the walk will be among the longest of her life.

Green was born with arthrogryposis, a rare neurological disorder that causes joint contractions and is marked by muscle weakness. The congenital disease forces her to spend most of her days in bed.

Taking just a few steps is an extremely painful ordeal, even with the aid of crutches. While she could use her wheelchair, that's not how Green wants to enter her "X-Files" experience.

To Green, walking into the theater, slowly but surely, will be her way of paying tribute to the show that helped rescue her from despair. She credits actress Gillian Anderson and her portrayal of no-nonsense FBI Agent Dana Scully with giving her life-affirming courage.

"This walk will be the culmination of where I've been headed the last few years," said Green, relaxing by the pool of her apartment near Qualcomm Stadium. "Gillian's short like me, but she's so strong, and the way she plays Scully gave me the inspiration to get out of bed and live life. I was isolated and frightened, and she pulled me up."

As she talks about her affection for "The X Files," her mood is upbeat. Without a trace of self-pity, she reflects on coping with a disease that has robbed her body of movement and flexibility.

Simple motion has always been difficult for Green, whose joints and bones didn't develop properly. The 4-foot-6 Green gets around in a wheelchair, but the bulk of each day is spent in a specially equipped hospital bed at home. The painful condition has been compounded too by a multitude of other health problems, including those that afflict her back and spine.

While always striving to stay positive, Green's spirit sank a few years ago when, dazed by medication, she fell out of bed. The fall caused severe damage to her bones and legs. Bedridden, and consumed by pain and boredom, she became badly depressed: "I didn't want company, I didn't want to do anything, I couldn't do anything."

Then one evening last year, she came across a repeat of "The X-Files." Fighting through a haze of medicated, restless sleep, she felt an instant connection with Anderson.

"Here was this small woman taking on the bad guys, so strong and so full of life," she recalled. "I feel that so much of what's inside of Gillian and Scully is inside of me. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She's short, but she doesn't let anyone push her around. When she was running, I was right there, running with her. Just looking at her and seeing how she handled herself just made me feel normal again."

Green was so taken by the actress and her character that she rented the series at her local video store. Then she bought the DVD boxed set for the entire series. Earlier this year, she traveled alone to San Francisco -- with the help of good Samaritans and hotel employees -- for the WonderCon conference, where Anderson and fellow star David Duchovny were making a promotional appearance for the film.

"What I realized a few years ago was that I had given up, and I didn't even know it until I saw Gillian," she said. "She just has this quality, this spirituality about her. There have been so many things in life that I've had to struggle for, but just seeing her and how determined she was put me in a place where I could have hope. I had confidence in my abilities again. She reminded me I had those same qualities that she had. If she hadn't reminded me, I would have stayed in that bed, zonked out on medication."

Family members say that they noticed the difference in Green.

"She just wasn't motivated and was gaining a lot of weight," said Dorian Evans, Green's nephew. "But she just changed so much, trying to make herself stronger."

Added her niece, Tiffany Evans: "We were so worried about her. She would be so depressed and down. But this movie has given her something to look forward to. She's taken the initiative to do a lot of things she hadn't done before. It's truly remarkable."

As the date for the opening approaches, Green has been watching trailers and commercials, trying to figure out what will happen. "I would love to see Mulder and Scully have a love scene." She pauses. "I just have this beautiful vision of them being together."

She plans to see the movie several more times in the coming weeks, and she'll have plenty of company. "I have a whole list of people who want to see it with me," she said.

--

greg.braxton@latimes.com

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