X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

TV Zone: Nicholas Lea, Double Agent

January 1996
TV Zone #74
Nicholas Lea, Double Agent
by Jane Killick

Nicholas Lea describes Alex Krycek as a young man in over his head. He joined THE X-FILES at the beginning of the second season when Gillian Anderson took a couple of weeks off to have her baby, and her character Scully was abducted by aliens. He was the young FBI agent assigned to work with Mulder. At first he seemed eager to please and eager to believe, but then the true nature of Krycek’s assignment began to manifest itself.

“He’s a little morally misguided, but he’s doing what he thinks is right, even though it might not be,” says Nicholas Lea in defense of his character. “Initially the duplicity of the character was exciting and I liked the chance to do two different things and now it’s just fun because it’s the character people love to hate.”


Nic’s appearance in the second season wasn’t his first foray into THE X-FILES. His introduction to the show actually happened in the first season when he appeared in the episode “Genderbender” playing Michel, a character lured by a sex killer in a nightclub. “I had a guest star role in there with about three scenes,” he says. “They really liked what I’d done, or so they told me, which was nice. And when the time came to cast the [of Krycek], they read about 30 actors in LA and I as about the only one they read in Vancouver and I got the part that afternoon.”

When asked why he thinks the producers chose him over the thirty others they saw, he takes a moment to think before replying: “I would say it’s got something to do with there’s a little bit of darkness to the way I look. That’s what they were looking for, somebody who could look like an inexperienced FBI agent, fresh out of the academy and somebody who could add a bit of a darkness to the look of the character.”

Krycek’s darkness only steadily becomes apparent. At first he fools the audience, as he begins to fool Mulder, that he is on his side. In one early scene he tells Mulder that he always stood up for him at the academy when the others would scorn his work on the X-Files. But in a later episode he is seen reporting back to the Cigarette Smoking Man, effectively double-crossing his partner. It was one of the master strokes that gave the show’s second season an edge. “It makes you want to watch it more,” agrees Nic. “I think that’s really smart because that’s the way people are in life. Nobody is really purely good or purely evil, everybody’s got a bit of all in them.”

With the introduction of Krycek, it allowed the show to take its theme of government corruption one step further by bringing it into direct confrontation with Mulder. “He’s a contemporary nemesis of Mulder’s,” Nic acknowledges. “They’re generally the same age, and so he’s somebody who could give him some trouble physically, whereas the Cigarette Smoking Man is kind of an older guy who just wealds his power. Krycek is actually a physical threat. And it adds a bit because we’ve got this – as you’ll see later on – a circle of older gentlemen who seem to run everything, the bad guys. He’s a bit of a pawn as well.”


It’s a marked contrast to the relationship between actors Nicholas Lea and David Duchovny in real life. “Personally working with him is a gas because we’re friends and we have a good time together, we share the same sense of humour and it’s a real treat. Working with him professionally is wonderful because I tend to get excitable as an actor and David is very good at being there and being grounded and it’s nice to work with him because it brings me down to ground level a little bit.”

Unusually the actors also get a chance to work closely with the producers of the show because many of them direct the episodes as well. It is an idea that originally came from X-FILES creator Chris Carter who wants to make sure the people at the top are kept in touch with the grass roots of the production. “It only helps,” says Nic. “Not only are they wonderful people to work with, but they also share that same vision and understanding as Chris and they’re all fun. All those guys are fun and so it’s nice to have a director on that’s having fun and not serious and uptight.”

That very same bunch of fun and creative people are, it turns out, happy to allow actors to have some input. David Duchovny is well known to have contributed storylines, while Nic has chipped in a few ideas of his own. “In the way that they dress me in the beginning, a lot of that was my idea,” he say. “Grey suit, bad tie, dorky haircut.”

“There’s a scene in one of the episodes, ‘Ascension,'” he continues, “where I clock a guy over the head with my gun and the idea was that it was going to cut from there to the tram moving going across the camera. My hadn was going to go down and it was going to cut to the tram going the other way. And I just added a little thing where I fixed my hair after him and it wasn’t meant to got that way, but they liked it and decided to keep it. So you can throw little things in and they let you work that way.”

Nic clearly made his mark, because Krycek didn’t disappear with the return of Scully. He comes back in the second season cliff-hanger “Anasazi,” an episode memorable for the brutal fight where Krycek slugs it out with Mulder. “The stunt man wasn’t available so we took a couple of hours and designed it, figures out how we were going to do it and what would be best,” says Nic. “We didn’t want it to be a nice little tv fight, we wanted it to be gritty and tough and realistic and I hope we got that. He threw me up against that wall many times and against the car just as many times. By the end I was definitely feeling it, it was hard – because it hurt! – but it was a lot of fun. I love to do physical things on film, it’s fun to get to do fight scenes and jumping and running out of explosions and all that sort of business. Doing the fight was really great, and they sent a massage therapist over to my house afterwards which was a good indication of how cool these people are.”

The Canadian actor has not only been brought to a wider audience by appearing in one of America’s biggest tv shows, but his association with THE X-FILES has also given him the chance to travel, making personal appearances on behalf of the programme. So can he explain why it has become so popular all over the world? “There’s a mass of appetite for this sort of material,” he says, “UFO sightings and a belief in spirits. A lot of people do believe and are fascinated by it. People have been fascinated by it for years. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.

“I think trust in government has been declining for years now and I think that’s happened in England as well as America,” he adds, “I think that people are obviously concerned that it’s happening in their own government, as far as cover-ups go, with the Roswell Incident and things like that. I don’t know to what extent there’s a real trust in the government. People, although they vote for them, don’t seem to trust them once they do.”


Nic has had other brushes with the telefantasy genre, first of all in HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES, another show filmed in his native Canada. “It was an interesting thing for me because I got to play a bit of a loser, he was an alcoholic who has no money and drinks all his money away. I don’t usually get to do those type of roles. It was exciting to be able to do that.”

He’s also guested on SLIDERS, the US show about travelling to parallel worlds. “The character I play in their eighth episode, which is their cliff-hanger, is a real hero, a world traveller and a bit of a charmer. That was also nice to play, to go to the other end of the spectrum. But wonderful people, a fairly clever show, it’s cute and fun.” SLIDERS was cancelled after one series, but is now being brought back as a mid-season replacement with Nic’s character due to make a return visit.

Nicholas Lea comes across as a lively and approachable man who talks enthusiastically about his work. He seems very different to Krycek. “Let’s hope so,” he says with a smile. “That’s one of the great things about being an actor, you get to experience something through somebody else’s eyes a little bit and it’s fun to play bad guys, it really is. It’s fun to be evil and then nobody gets hurt really. Obviously if it goes on out in the world it’s scary, to be able to do it for fun and responsibly, it’s a treat. I’m just lucky I’m part of it.”


He’s currently being kept busy with the return of Krycek in the third season of THE X-FILES, still being filmed in Nic’s home town of Vancouver. This time, however, Krycek has lost his ‘dorky’ haircut and his ‘bad tie.’ Instead, he’s grown his hair and bought himself a leather jacket. “It’s more comfortable than the suit, that’s for sure!” says Nic. “The leather jacket’s great. And I asked for that, boots and jeans and stuff.”

So, aside from Krycek’s wardrobe, what else can he reveal about Season Three? “You’ll see as things progress that Krycek’s forced out onto his own,” says Nic. “So now he’s a bit of a free agent and it’s going to be real interesting to see in which direction they do take him because I’m not sure.

“I think there’s a danger on some television shows when they gain a certain popularity they tend to sit back a little bit and let the show ride itself. But the people involved with this show are really starting to catch their stride and they’re really starting to pull out some really exciting stuff and stuff that you don’t get to see on other shows.”

Considering Krycek was only originally supposed to be in three episodes, Nic’s character has shown amazing endurance and fascinating development as the world of THE X-FILES continues to unravel. “I didn’t know it would be coming back as much as it has,” Nic reveals. “They originally said three episodes, which made me go over-the-moon. So when it started to be more it couldn’t have been happier. I’ve really been very fortunate.”

“I think they’re doing a wonderful job,” he continues, “but I think I’d like to see a bit more of the human side of the fella come out, not just this cold-blooded killer, but why he does what he does… And obviously the relationship [with Mulder] is getting much more personal and it’s really going to be interesting to see how that plays itself out. I would like to see Krycek save Mulder’s life so it becomes even more confusing.”

As for how long Krycek will continue to be a part of THE X-FILES, not even the actor who plays him can really say. “I’m going back to do one [episode] in December or January,” he says. “Then it all really depends on the Gods.”

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