Archive for October, 2000

Dreamwatch: Hasta la Vista

Oct-26-2000
Dreamwatch
Hasta la Vista
Jenny Cooney Carillo

“It feels great, but I really feel like I’m joining David because I’m another part of the ensemble and a brand new character. ” ~ Robert Patrick on joining the show

While he is best known as the heartless cyborg in Terminator 2, Robert Patrick is hoping all that will change now he is assuming the lead main role on The X Files. Jenny Cooney Carillo gets the lowdown on FBI agent John Doggett

Talk to the unassuming 41-year old actor and he quickly makes it clear he is not only genuinely grateful to join the cast of one of the most successful television series ever but also for the chance to remain in Los Angeles close to his wife of ten years, Barbara, and their two children aged four and one month.

In the X Files seventh season cliff hanger, Mulder was abducted by what appeared to be an alien spaceship and Scully revealed that she is pregnant. As the eighth season begins, Scully searches for the truth about her missing partner while contending with a resistant FBI bureaucracy and a sceptical new partner, Agent John Doggett, played by Patrick. Doggett’s character is introduced to Scully in a dramatic scene which ends with her throwing water in his face. Where can they go from there?

Question: While you are not quite replacing David Duchovny, there will be comparisons. How do you feel about that?

Answer: It feels great, but I really feel like I’m joining David because I’m another part of the ensemble and a brand new character. I can’t wait to see, and I hope the audience does as well, how the character of John Doggett evolves. I’m really excited about it personally because I think it’s one of the best roles I’ve ever had the opportunity to play. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to actually work with David a little bit more than I have, but I’m enjoying working with Gillian too.

Question: How was your first day on the set?

Answer: I was actually a lot more nervous on that day than I have been in a lot of other situations on big movies where I don’t know anything about the star I’m working opposite. It was partly because I was really just so excited I couldn’t calm down and I was a little goofy that day , as I think I am now with you!

Question: Did you feel a lot of pressure?

Answer: I don’t feel any pressure because the hard part was really just seeing if this was going to work out, that I could actually be able to do it with my schedule the way it looked. So once that obstacle was cleared, I feel like if I just work hard and take it scene by scene and show by show, everything else will take care of itself. The writing is there and if I execute the role of John Doggett the way Chris Carter designed him, I think it’s a win-win situation , no matter how I look at it.

Question: Was it difficult to make the decision to join a show that could be on its tail end and has so much to live up to?

Answer: I’ve been looking to try and get into television for the last five years so I was actively pursuing that idea during pilot season with no idea what was going to present itself. When this came along, there was no hesitation. It’s a great show. I had met Chris before and I think he’s a terrific writer and the show is unique.

Question: How did you develop the character of John Doggett in your mind?

Answer: I’ve played some FBI types before and I feel like, with this character, I’ve done a lot of things that they’ve asked me to do before at different times in my career. I have a lot of experience to draw off to help create this guy, and I feel like it’s perfect timing for me.

Question: Doggett does start off on Scully’s bad side. Are you expecting a backlash from the fans?

Answer: I hope they have an honest reaction and they’re compelled one way or another. If they don’t like the guy, they don’t like the guy. If they do like the guy, they do. I’m there, but I am the new guy and I’ll just be happy if they have an honest reaction, whatever that is.

Question: Were you much of an X Files fan before winning the role?

Answer: I work so much I don’t watch a lot of anything, to be honest with you. I have watched The X Files for the last season when I could and I always enjoyed it every time I watched it. I’m not a hardcore fan of any genre. I’ve done some science fiction in the past and I’ve actually produced a couple, so I guess I’m excited about that aspect. But the main thing was when I watched the show I was always amazed at the performances of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. I think they’re marvellous in the way they handle their dialogue and their relationship, and I think the dialogue in the show is great. The weird thing to me is that a lot of things that happen in the science fiction world sort of seem to come to fruition. It’s like what was thought to be pretty far out years ago, all of a sudden now we’re doing it and it’s commonplace and accepted, which is kind of neat.

Question: How hard is your new schedule on your family?

Answer I’ve never been one that’s had to take time off. Last year I was gone for ten months and the year before that eight months, and I’m really talking about gone. So my wife and my children are really excited about the fact that at least I’m here in town and I do get to go in and see them in bed every night. This was another reason that I was really curious about getting into television, because I love to work, so I figured I might as well get into something that was a little bit more structured than having to do a film and take time off before finding out what my next gig was going to be.

Question: Were you working on The X Files when your second son was born?

Answer Yes, we were way down near San Diego when my wife went into labour and we were all kind of worried about whether or not I was going to have to be helicoptered in, but everyone on the show was great about trying to make sure I was going to be there for my wife, and in the end I was there.

Question: You played a bad guy in Sopranos recently. Are you actively looking to get away from that bad guy image now?

Answer My career is really interesting to me but probably boring to a lot of other people. I get to do a lot of big, mainstream movies every once in a while, and they just happen to cast me usually as a tough guy or villain, I do a lot of smaller films that I’m proud of where I’m a good guy, but they never hit a wide audience so it’s great to finally hit a huge audience who can now see me in a different light. If all you ever know me as is T2 or the asshole form Striptease or the prick in Copland …..at least my parents can enjoy this one!

Question: You play Matt Damon’s father in the upcoming drama All the Pretty Horses

Answer That character is a sweet, damaged, World War II veteran who is a rancher but comes back from the war shell-shocked and a shadow of his former self. It’s a small role but pivotal because what I can’t give Matt Damon is what he goes looking for and sends him on this odyssey. That movie was one of the highlights of my career because Matt was terrific, I loved the character, and Billy Bob Thornton was one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with.

Question: One recent American story about The X Files season compared our coming into the show as similar to Dick Sergent in Bewitched. Do you think that’s fair?

Answer: No. They’ve created this new character so why not be excited about that? That’s what I’m excited about. The possibility of whether it’s going to do this or that or have this effect or be compared to whomever, who cares and who knows, anyway?

Question: When did you first know you wanted to become an actor?

Answer I had acted briefly in elementary school and done a few things crammed between sports I played, but I don’t think I ever took it seriously because nobody from my family had ever done it and I lived in the Midwest and you just don’t take that kind of career seriously there. But I did sit in on some drama classes and they intrigued me. We moved around a lot when I was a kid so I always felt like I was acting every time I went to a new city and had to figure out who I was going to be. I studied acting very briefly but I can’t say I’m trained. I’m a guy who read a lot of Stanislovski and really kind of banked on the fact that I had something organic.

Question: What kind of baggage does Doggett bring to the show? Do you know much about his background?

Answer I can’t tell you what went on with Doggett or anything about his family, female relationships or his personality. I hate to be vague but it’s not fair to the show to do that. I can say he has a great deal of respect for women and he definitely appreciates them and he really appreciates Scully and admires her craft and the way she goes about her work. I think that’s what charms him from the start. Our first scene together has me going out on the line and lying to her to try to get some information and she catches me at it , and Doggett digs that!

Question: Do you believe in extra terrestrials?

Answer: I go back and forth on that. When I was doing the movie Fire in the Sky, about alien abduction, I met those guys and I kind of believed their story so I believe something happened to them, but I don’t know. Doggett doesn’t believe so I think now that I personally will be buying into his mindset and I won’t buy it either. But it’s a big universe and there could be something out there. I think God created the universe so I think if there’s anything out there, He created it.

Question: What does T2 mean to you now and what did it mean to you then? Has it helped or hindered you in the long run?

Answer It was the greatest experience that happened to me where I was in my career at the time. I had never worked with such a talented writer/director and it was a wonderful opportunity to work with the best of the best in every field of filmmaking. Being an unknown and having an experience like that and that thing being a hit on such a level. I think it might have had a little bit of an effect on my career in a negative sense, but that’s OK because it just makes me work harder to get people to try to see me in a different light, and that’s my journey. I’m very proud of it, but I don’t know if I could ever do that again.

Question: So would you be interested if a cameo arose in T3?

Answer I don’t know if I could do a cameo. I like where my career is going now with The X Files and I like the gig I have now. I haven’t talked to Jim Cameron or Arnold in a while. I see Arnold occasionally and he’s a very nice man and I love his wife, who is fantastic, but I’ve never spoken to him or anybody else about being in the next Terminator movie, and that’s all I can say about that.

Times Magazine: Playing with Fire

Oct-21-2000
Times Magazine
Playing with Fire
Grace Bradberry

Gillian Anderson is in her trailer wrestling with a punch bag. It stands on a spring-loaded base, next to the exercise bike, and for some reason she considers it to be in the wrong place. She is not happy about the lighting either – the power is off, and the place is lit only by dim, yellow emergency bulbs. “Ambience is everything,” she quips, poking her head around the door to call for help. Finally she sits down and discovers a rip in her shirt, just beneath the arm. “Sorry….” she says distractedly, tugging at the scratchy blue threads. “There’s something very strange going on here.” Then she laughs.

I had expected many things of Gillian Anderson. Aloofness. Caginess. Even hostility. But one thing I did not expect was giddiness. It is so much the reverse of what she projects on screen. As Agent Dana Scully, her character in The X-Files, she rarely smiles, let alone laughs. There is sexual tension, but it is of the buttoned-down variety – Scully never flirts.

It’s early evening when we meet at The X-Files set, on a dusty ranch owned by the Walt Disney Company. It is north of LA, in a remote canyon beyond the San Fernando Valley. Signs at the entrance threaten trespassers. The X-Files crew have set up by a ramshackle wooden house next to a lake. Anderson has already been transformed into Scully – her naturally unruly amber hair has been dragged straight and she wears a black trouser suit. A production assistant interrupts her conversation with her hairdresser to introduce me, and my first thought is that she is small (5ft 3 in) and extremely beautiful.

She apologizes for the fact that I have been “waiting around so long with so little action,” and looks around for another chair. Then she films a scene with a burly man, who is so familiar towards her – putting his arm around her at the end of the shot – that I assume she knows him well. But as she walks towards series creator Chris Carter, her back to the actor, she smiles and cringes. The man, it turns out, is merely a bit-part actor.

“He told me some stuff he shouldn’t be telling anybody, says Anderson, as we walk back towards her trailer. On the way, she talks about how she used not to drink any coffee, but now has the occasional decaf. She took it up again because after she quit smoking in May, she began sucking lollipops and now wants to substitute decaf for candy. The punch bag is another way for “getting out the extra stuff,” of which there is a lot right now: “I would slam my head against the wall if I didn’t have to worry about bruising my forehead,” is how she puts it.

Professionally, though, it is restraint that has again defined Anderson’s work. She has delivered a revelatory performance in Terence Davies’s masterful adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel The House of Mirth (On nationwide release from Friday). As Lily Bart, a beautiful but impoverished socialite trying to put aside her emotions as she searches for a wealthy husband. Gillian Anderson brings a combination of poise, self-containment and intensity. When she smiles, it is a deliberate act, produced for decorative effect. As the film takes a dark turn, Anderson becomes stiller than ever. There has been talk of an Oscar nomination for Gillian Anderson. And why not? Before Boys Don’t Cry, Hilary Swank, crowned as Best Actress in March, was best known for a stint on Beverly Hills 90210. Anderson, on the other hand, already has an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Scully in a series that has won critical acclaim. She has also appeared in Peter Chelsom’s The Mighty and Playing By Heart.

As a teenager, Gillian Anderson was a punk – a fact that has turned into a clichĂ© since she hit stardom – and despite the New Age music that periodically rises above our conversation, she still loves the release of more anarchic music. “I recently went to a [Red Hot] Chili Peppers concert, and I was like a good little celebrity, standing to the side of the stage. And I regret not being in the mosh pit and I wish that I’d just f****** gone down there. Right now I want to be in a perpetual mosh pit.”

This was not what Terence Davies perceived in her when he met her at London’s Covent Garden Hotel in the summer of 1998 when she was on holiday in England. Having only seen photographs of Anderson, and never having watched The X- Files, he perceived in her a modern-day Greer Garson, with the luminous beauty he wanted for Lily Bart. Gillian Anderson, in turn, was prepared to break off from a holiday in London to meet Davies because she had loved The Long Day Closes, the director’s evocation of his deeply troubled childhood in Liverpool. Davies subsequently flew to Los Angeles to hear Anderson read. Afterwards, Davies, known for his eccentric manner, offered her the part in the most formal terms

Despite being set in turn-of-the-century New York, it was shot in Glasgow (a City she scoured for low-grease restaurants). Anderson read and reread Wharton’s novel, making copious notes on her script, constantly fretting that she would reproduce Scully in Lily Bart. “Every once in a while I’d see something and go, ‘Oh was that the way Scully would be?” I’m so bloody judgmental,” But Scully never seems to fall in love, nor does she descend on a tragic spiral. This time Anderson was able to draw on some parts of her life that just don’t get plumbed in The X-Files. “I can say that I have experienced that depth of love and yes, I am sure that an aspect of me drew on that,” she acknowledges. “The wretchedness certainly I have felt at times in my life.”

In one of the most powerful scenes, Lily Bart and the man she really loves, the equally impoverished Lawrence Selden, steal some time together beneath a tree. They merely touch hands, then kiss, but the charge between Gillian Anderson and Eric Stoltz, playing Selden, is greater than if they had made love. Anderson agrees: “There’s an element of awkwardness, and there’s an element of exposing oneself so tremendously in a way, even though we’re all corseted up and everything,”

Intimacy and touch are not easy subjects for Gillian. When she first arrived on the set of The X-Files, aged 24, she found the physical contact of the crew hard to take. I’d always been such a private person, such a loner, and such a non-physical person, and all of a sudden hair, makeup, wardrobe were here at the same time. At the beginning, I couldn’t take it. I think I had some tantrums… somebody would come from behind and brush my hair and I’d literally be like, ‘Ugh’, I felt violated, it was that strong. It must, from the outside, have looked as if I was just a spoilt bitch. And I probably was.”

For whatever reason, Gillian Anderson spent most of her adolescence feeling alienated. She has given a variety of explanations, but has never been specific about the troubles that beset her. From the age of two to 11 she live in London, where her father took a course at the London Film School and a variety of jobs. Her mother operated computers at the Daily Mirror. Then an old child (her brother and sister are still teenagers), she lived in flats in Clapton, Haringey and Crouch End. She smoked for the first time at eight behind the railway line, and hung out with the local children. “There was a crowd that was really rough and would beat up on people, and I went in and out of being one of them, and one of the ones beaten up by them.”

When she moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, “My accent was so thick, they couldn’t understand it,” she says, falling into a mimicry that could bag her a job on East Enders. She was admitted to a high school for highly motivated children – “I swear to God the only reason they accepted me back then was because I had a British accent.” But the initial interest generated by her north London intonation soon fell away.”I think I was disliked a lot When I was younger I think I showed off and I fed off the attention. And to a certain degree that has been satiated in this job, just in doing what I do. I think it’s enough that I don’t need to then push it.”

Then, in her mid-teens, she got into an alternative-music crowd and acquired a boyfriend ten years older. “We were an active, known couple in the scene. And he was in a band.” It was at this time that she dabbled in pain-numbing behaviors. Alcohol? Drugs? Anything that you can think of, some more than others, and some for longer periods than others,” Her one moment of mainstream triumph was when she mounted a production of Edward Albee’s A Dog’s Story, and won an interschool best actress prize. “I was the girl with combat boots and hair dyed pink, a nose-ring and dresses that were way too big stolen from thrift stores,” she says. Couldn’t she at least have raided the local department store? “I should never have said that,” she says, half -wailing, half-laughing and covering her face. “I didn’t want anything expensive, It wasn’t of interest to me.”

At 17, she left home to study drama at Chicago’s DePaul University, deliberately eschewing the student dorm to live in a low-rent artists’ district. She is still in thrall to some of the problems that plagued her as an adolescent. She has been in therapy in every city that she has live in, including Vancouver, where The X-Files was first shot, and now Los Angeles.

At one point I mention her temperament, and she corrects me and says it is much deeper than temperament. “My life has been devoted for a long time to – it’s a very dramatic word but I have to say that it’s true – survival. It’s so easy and sometimes so welcome to take another path and to just go downhill.” What ultimately precludes any self-destructive binge is her daughter Piper, now six, the product of her marriage to Clyde Klotz, a set designer whom she met during the first season of The X-Files. They were married after three months, and subsequently separated.

“People would say, ‘You’ve had such a whirlwind life, y’know. The show, the pregnancy, the divorce’. And I’d be like ‘Yeah, and so?’ It was only afterwards that I thought, ‘Holy mother of God’.” The pregnancy causes consternation among the show’s executives. There may even have been people wondering why she didn’t have an abortion. “I think there were people who wished that I had. I am prochoice but I knew that I could not do that. I know that there were people saying, ‘Why the f*** didn’t she use a condom?” Her ambition did not run to abortions. “And on top of that, I didn’t want another burden to carry around,” she says, smiling. It was only a couple of years ago that it hit her -“Oh my God, how could I do that? It was the first season. Things were so warped and distorted I had no sense of anything.”

She returned to the set just ten days after her caesarean section, carrying huge feelings of guilt both about the show, and about her daughter, whom she feared was bonding more with the nanny. Yet during those first three years, Gillian Anderson went from unknown actress to a cover star. I want how she had dealt with this literal ego-trip, and she tells a rather uncomfortable story. “There was a period going through my divorce when for weeks I was in tears, I was on the phone constantly to him, with lawyers, and we were constantly having to touch up my make-up just to get through.

“One of the producers pulled me aside and tried to tell me an analogy about an actress he had worked with who had started to do the covers and had started to get very full of herself and so she would show up to work late, and she was on the cellphone a lot. And I was absolutely appalled that he would think that was what was going on with me … I mean everybody knew that I was going through a divorce. It made me more hypersensitive to not behave that way.”

On the other hand, she has sometimes gone into battle to be treated as the equal of her co-star David Duchovny (who has more or less left the show, to be replaced by Robert Patrick). “There have certainly been times where I have felt incredibly taken advantage of, where I have put my foot down about some things that may look as if I’m being a bitch.” In the first series, she was always to walk a few paces behind Duchovny. Like an orthodox Muslim wife? “Exactly.” As her celebrity grew, Gillian Anderson wasn’t having any of it. That she and Duchovny did not get along is well known. “We were friends during the pilot,” she says. Then seems to think better of such a blunt statement and adds, “In a different way than we were through the rest of the show.” Was there antipathy or just distance? “To be hones, a bit of both – yeah.”

She refuses to give details, and instead becomes philosophical. “What is fascinating to me about life,” she says, “is that the most important people in our lives are those who bring us the most pain.” Ouch. “There were aspects of him that were very uncomfortable for me. And by the same token, I think, that under it all there was a great deal of mutual understanding with the situation that we found ourselves in. And by the grace of God, no matter what, we showed up and there was chemistry.”

Gillian Anderson is sticking with the show for two more seasons. Her shooting schedule has been worked out so that she can regularly fly up to Vancouver – where Clyde Klotz still lives – to spend time with her daughter. Until now, it has been Piper who has travelled between Canada and California, spending three weeks in each. Her parents, now on amicable terms, decided that she should go to school in one place. In Hollywood, this is not nearly as obvious a choice as it might sound. There are some notable actors who put their children into school wherever they happen to be filming.

You wonder if her daughter will inherit some or any of Anderson’s tempestuous nature. “She is a very precocious and rambunctious child,” she says, rooting out a photograph. “This is not an example of her being precocious – but look at that pose!” Her daughter is standing on the beach, her hair blown askew by the wind, a hand clasped to her bosom as though she were about to orate. “She’s got seaweed on her head and she was probably throwing rocks in the water. I am a good mother, but I know that genetically she’s gonna have some stuff to work out.

“She’s very stubborn. I try to have the conversation with her about her feelings and is she angry, is it something I’ve done? And she refuses to have that conversation. It’s very challenging. I imagine that there will be a day when she comes to me screaming, saying, ‘You f****** worked for the first seven years of my life. “Why?’ The first nine it will be. But it’s a choice of necessity, and it’s a choice of human need to feel fulfilled in one’s life.” There is no doubt that Anderson is an intense person, but there’s also a reckless joie de vivre that is very appealing. She likes to drive her Porsche fast, and last summer went on a course in Atlanta, learning to spin it on wet roads. ‘I’m not afraid in that way. The fear that I have experienced in life, on emotional and psychological levels, is far greater than any fear I could experience from driving at 130mph in a car.”

She owns a horse, practices Pilates and has a spaniel puppy called Happy, who on the evening we meet causes her a certain amount of unhappiness by chewing the straw covering from one of her flip-flops. She also has a boyfriend whom she will not discuss, except to say that she has more or less cured herself of her addiction to what she has described as dangerous men.” It’s changed from being attracted to a dangerous man who might be an addict and completely self destructive to, lets say – though this is not what’s happening now – a very grounded, intelligent, sexy photo-journalist who goes off and almost gets killed. Somebody who could actually have a pretty healthy relationship but, ooh, he’s ….you know.”

We may yet get to know the identity of her shadowy boyfriend. There is every possibility that Anderson’s performance in The house of Mirth will win her awards. For years now, she has eschewed the various openings of envelopes that go on for months. But the walk down the red carpet could soon become a necessity, and she is unlikely to want to make that trek alone.

The X-Files Magazine: Brand New Day

Oct-??-2000
The X-Files Magazine [US]
Brand New Day
Chandra Palermo

[typed by Donna]

“One of the nice things about Mulder is that you have that character to push the paranormal envelope.” Maeda says. “If Mulder were in this episode, he would immediately be putting out a theory that, ‘I think I know what’s going on here.’ And he might be partially right, he might be totally right. Without him, you have to go through a different path to arrive at the same place. It’s tough, no question about it, but it’s also an interesting challenge to try and get there in another way.”~ Steve Maeda

Convicts playing basketball on a church rooftop would make a strange sight – anywhere but in L.A. The equipment trucks, catering vans and security guards surrounding the base of the eight-story building are a dead giveaway to native passsersby: Must be a location shoot. In this case, The X-Files’ crew has claimed the structure for the fifth day of shooting on Season Eight stand-alone “Redrum.”

The heat is oppressive. But as the sun beats down with the characteristic intensity of a late-August afternoon, the prison inmates continue shooting hoops and lifting weights until director Peter Markle calls “Cut.” After several takes, Markle finally dismisses the heavily costumed extras for a short break, and they head straight to the cooler, all the while bemoaning the absence of their true desire: cold beer.

“The last thing a bunch of convicts need is beer,” one of the extras joke. But none of the others has any energy left to laugh.

Yet, Markle and the rest of the crew are chomping at the bit to get to the next scene. The excitement is palpable. Season Eight promises to be a time of incredible change and experimentation for the series, and the powers that be have chosen to dive in with one of the most ambitious storylines to date: the tale of a man who awakens each day to find himself thrust backward in time to the previous morning.

“We had talked about doing stories in a more non-traditional format,” writer Steve Maeda says. “We’re in the eighth season now and [have done] 160-some-odd shows. Not that the show’s getting stale, but we thought, ‘We’re pushing in new directions with characters now, let’s try some new things with structure.’ So that sort of spawned the idea of the backwards story.”

“Redrum” protagonist Martin Wells wakes one morning to find himself in a jail cell, being held for the murder of his wife. But he has no memory of the past several days’ events. He’s treated coldly by his old friend John Doggett, denied bail and shot by his father-in-law in just a few hours’ time. The next morning he awakens in the same prison, alive, and learns yesterday’s events are set to take place tomorrow. On top of that, no one else seems to have any cognizance of the apparent time flux – though Agent Scully seems at least to be sympathetic to his claims. Realizing his unique situation puts him in a position not only to find out who really perpetrated the crime but also to try to prevent it, Wells sets to the task, though his inexplicable actions cause him to come under even more suspicion.

The episode’s clever, original conundrum might be fun for viewers to tackle, but the creative minds behind “Redrum” found it torturous. “It was a big headache to try to put it all together,” Maeda says. “It was really difficult trying to figure out what does he know on this day, what does he know on the day before and what do the other characters know. Martin is learning things about this murder that he does not remember over the course of this story, but Doggett and Scully and other characters in this story are actually unlearning things as they go backwards through the story. So, they know more at the beginning of the story than they do at the end. And in the beginning of the story, they come to Martin and tell him things he doesn’t know about because he has no memory of the past three days. At the end of the story he has to go to Doggett and tell him, ‘You don’t remember me, but my wife is gonna be murdered today.’ So, it’s pretty twisty.”

Got all that? Executive producer Frank Spotnitz swears it’s worth the bit of brainteasing to figure it out. “It’s like the satisfaction of solving a very difficult puzzle,” he says. “We felt very good when we finally got to the end and saw that it all made sense in some way. But it’s a real change of pace. I’d say we’ve only done episodes like this, which are not in the mold of The X-Files, really two or three times in the life of the series. So, it’s a gamble, which is always worrying and exciting at the same time.”

Actor Joe Morton, probably best known for his roles in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Speed and this summer’s What Lies Beneath, has taken on the formidable task of carrying the audience along with Wells on his voyage of discovery and redemption. Though he seems to delve into the paranoia and confusion of his character with relative ease each time “Action” is called, between takes he’s equally as ready with a handshake and a hug for an extra who’s wrapped his work on the episode.

“He’s such a strong actor,” Markle says. “You know when you’re looking at an actor like Joe, there’s always something going on inside. It just reads on the screen whether he has dialogue or he has no dialogue. So, this is a perfect role for him because the drama this particular character is going through dealing with the death of his wife, trying to change the event, living his days backwards, waking up in jail, being a prosecutor treated like a criminal – I think Joe’s the type of actor you need to be on camera with that range of emotions.”

Maeda says he knew Morton was the man for the job even before he finished the script. “Sometimes when you’re writing, you start to picture an actor playing in a particular role,” he explains. “You hear people say this all the time, but in this case it’s actually true that as we [were] thinking of who could play this character, for some reason Joe Morton kept coming to mind. So, when they asked me, ‘Well do you have any ideas on casting?’ my first thought was, ‘How about Joe Morton?’ And then we didn’t know about his availability and we looked at other people, as well. But then, when he became available, it was like ‘Fantastic. That was who I had in my mind from the get-go.’ So, I was really lucky.”

The casting of Martin Wells was an especially important one, as Wells drives the story himself, discovering the X-file and solving it on his own with only brief interludes with Scully and Doggett. Although this device conveniently addressed actor availability issues, Maeda says it was not intentional.

“As we started doing it backwards, it seemed to us [to be] the only way to tell the story, because it was from this guy’s particular point of view and he was the only one experiencing what was going on,” Maeda explains. “To cut away to Scully and Doggett and have them appear more didn’t feel right. It felt better that we stay with him and the audience knows what he knows, and that we’re part of his confusion. And then when he starts to understand things, we’re part of understanding them. It certainly, I think, has worked out well, and it’s nice that this is the kind of show where you can do something totally different like this and really have a great guest character carry an entire show.”

Morton’s increased role also gives the crew a bit more breathing space in creating the John Doggett character. Introduced in the season opener as the special agent in charge of a task force created to search for Mulder, Doggett will become a lead on the show alongside Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Although a Chris Carter-penned tale, about bats, will air before this episode, scheduling demands placed “Redrum” third on the production slate, making this the first time many precedents have had to be addressed. By the time “Redrum” airs, viewers will have already gotten a glimpse of Doggett and Scully’s new partnership, but the episode marks the first time the crew has had to take a crack at showing the ex-marine and former cop teamed up with Scully. Luckily, since Doggett mainly remains in the background of the episode, department heads could take their time shaping the little details of his character.

“I’ve already started doing what they call a closet for him,” costume designer Enid Harris says. “He happens to be fabulous. I mean, he’s got a great look, he’s got a great body. He’s been a dream to dress. We want to keep him conservative, like an ex-marine or policeman would dress. So, basically, it has to be a two-button suit. However, two-button suits always come with pleated pants, which is not a great look. So, I’ve had to redesign the suits to do a two-button jacket with a flat-front pant, which basically you can’t buy. So, we’ve had to redo all these pants.

Though shot entirely on location for “Redrum,” the interior of Doggett’s apartment – seen for the first time in this episode – will eventually be replicated on stage and become a standing set.

“Doggett is a cop, and we got to pick a really interesting house,” production designer Corey Kaplan explains. “It’s in a grungy neighborhood where everybody has fences and barking dogs, and everybody’s house is turn-of-the-century and totally cut up and revamped. And just that choice is kind of cool. He’s a cop and he’s willing to live in a bad place because he can handle himself. We’ll be developing his house and the things we put on his wall as [the writers] start writing about him. I don’t remember the episode where the ‘I Want to Believe’ poster landed on Mulder’s wall, but that’s how we came to this really rich character. All the scripts that passed by and the evolution of situations formed his office and his fish and his porno magazines and his closet – all those things that make him what he is. We don’t have that for Doggett yet. We’re slowly getting there.

“I like him already,” she continues. “He doesn’t have an attitude. He’s really straightforward. And it’s interesting how he’s going to be broken down into believing. It’s kind of fun watching, ‘Oh, my god, how can he not believe this,’ like we watched Scully being transformed through Mulder and his realizations.”

Property master Tom Day shows a similar amount of enthusiasm about the collection of items he has begun to gather for Doggett. “First off, Robert’s just a gem of a guy, so it’s made it really groovy for everyone,” he says. “This for us will be an ongoing process for the first few episodes because he gets himself in different circumstances, and that’s when a particular little personal prop will demonstrate itself, whether it be his wallet or his holster or a photo that says something about him. [It’s fun] developing those little nuances.”

One of the most challenging props to come by for “Redrum” was the knife Doggett uses to cut through the crime scene tape on the door of Wells’ apartment. Day chose a sleek, military-style blade to fit Doggett’s already established personal history. “There’s a lot that goes into what kind of knife a guy carries,” Day explains. “I’ve got five guys in my prop department, and we all carry a different kind of knife. So, you don’t just go, ‘Ok, give [Doggett] this and let him cut it with that.’ No, this is something that we’ve actually talked to the executive producers about. What do they want for him? What exactly do they want to say with this knife? And once that’s been said, then we’ll take this knife and we’ll have a whole bunch of them made. We’ll have rubbers made, and we’ll have ones with safety blades on them made up. And then we will have established that prop for him that will say something about him.”

Meanwhile, outside of Day’s Stage Six office on the Twentieth Century Fox lot, Mulder’s apartment set stands empty, darkened and locked. Directly opposite, a black curtain reaching from floor to ceiling covers an area dressed up to reveal Mulder’s current location in the two-part season premiere. Its contents are to be kept secret until the episodes debut in early November.

Though Duchovny does make a brief but powerful appearance in the opening two-parter, “Redrum” is the first entirely Mulder-free episode in The X-Files’ history.

“[In] ‘Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man,’ you heard Mulder’s voice. I think you may have seen his lips, Spotnitz says. “And in ‘Three of a Kind,’ the Lone Gunmen episode, you only heard his voice. I think this is probably the first episode without Mulder in any way, shape or form. [But] it’s such an oddball episode anyway, it didn’t really hit us. I think episode four, which will actually be broadcast as episode three, [is] probably when it will hit us how weird it is that it’s without Mulder because that’s really the first true case where Scully and Doggett are partnered up.”

That’s not to say Mulder’s absence had no impact on “Redrum.” In fact, Maeda says it made it easier to take the chance on a guest star-driven storyline. If Mulder were around, it might have been tempting to take the road more traveled and play it safe.

“One of the nice things about Mulder is that you have that character to push the paranormal envelope.” Maeda says. “If Mulder were in this episode, he would immediately be putting out a theory that, ‘I think I know what’s going on here.’ And he might be partially right, he might be totally right. Without him, you have to go through a different path to arrive at the same place. It’s tough, no question about it, but it’s also an interesting challenge to try and get there in another way.”

Maeda insists, however, that turning The X-Files into an anthology show by having guest leads every week isn’t the only way to deal with this issue. But fans should expect more episodes, like “Redrum,” outside traditional X-Files formulas.

And of course, there’s always Scully to consider. Though she started the series as an ultra-rational scientist, her knee-jerk skepticism has been tempered by her years in the field with Mulder. No one’s calling her “Spooky” yet, but she no longer dismisses the paranormal as superstitious nonsense.

“She’s seen enough over seven years that she doesn’t walk away from the tall tale immediately,” Day says. “She actually sees it more based upon her experiences with the Mulder character. Still, she’s more rooted in the science. But there’s just an openness. Experience has taught her not to immediately discount things.”

The challenges The X-Files’ producers face, like establishing a new character and developing a device by which the leads are brought to the paranormal each week, are very similar to those of the first season. And with all the changes in store, it seems The X-Files, like Martin Wells, is getting a chance at a fresh start.

“There’s a little bit of a sense that we’re almost doing a new show. And there’s a part inside of you that wonders how well this is gonna go over,” Day says. “I mean, you’ve got a show that for many years has had people invest their time into these characters. These two characters have been there for seven full years. Now, you wonder, are those people who have been the loyal fans of the show for seven years, are they gonna revolt, are they gonna have issues? Or can you just hope, ‘Hey, they’re gonna like the new scripts, they’re gonna like the direction it goes in and they’re still gonna enjoy it. Because let’s face it, the stories themselves are coming from the same sources. So, hopefully, that bridge is crossed, everything goes well, everyone’s happy and Season Eight is a successful one.”

Cinefantastique: The Man Behind The Mytharc

Oct-??-2000
Cinefantastique
The Man Behind The Mytharc
Dan Persons

Where’s the profit in knowing that the sinister and the strange daily walk our streets, when it seems that The X-Files – the show that poked at our paranoias, that visualized our national apprehensions, that defined cutting-edge horror for the better part of a decade – has finally reached the end of its own, recently tortured lifespan?

In the reality of television broadcasting, The X-Files has dodged the cancellation bullet one more time, finding itself renewed for an eighth season. In terms of the all holy mythos, though, fans had to wonder at what cost Chris Carter’s brainchild had received its reprieve. Was this actually a new lease on life, or just a dwindling survival on life support, spurred by a network whose proprietors were all-too-aware of how they had botched the previous season? Could the creators and principals of the best genre show on television overcome internecine conflicts and hardening of the arteries to push this final season to heights not previously achieved, or would those tuning in be confronted with vague hints the show’s prior glory?

Those were questions that avid viewers really wanted to know. You’d sooner get the correct time from the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Talking to Chris Carter, at the end of 1999 was a cordial, but cautious, experience. He should hardly be blamed – in what for him should have been a triumphant autumn, the executive producer had instead seen his carefully conceived words dismantled by strife and incompetence. The problems had actually started last summer, when X-Files star David Duchovny filed suit against 20th Century-Fox, charging them with selling reruns of the show to the Fox-held FX network for much less than what the episodes would have brought in open syndication, thus cheating the actor out of his rightfully earned share of the profits. While Carter was not named as a defendant – Duchovny is ballsy, not crazy – the executive producer was cited as an accomplice in the deal, willing to sell his profit-partners down the river in return for favorable treatment for his future shows.

If such was actually the case, then Carter should have checked the fine print a little more closely. On the decision of Fox Entertainment president Doug Herzog – a man who would be out the door scant months later – the network through the bulk of its autumn ’99 promotional might behind ACTION, a funny, edgy satire of current-day Hollywood that, it turned out, nobody on Earth wanted to watch. Forsaken in the push was Harsh Realm, Carter’s new attempt to bring X-Files-style darkness into the virtual reality world. The miscalculation was epic: by November, all of Fox’s fall debuts had been canceled, Harsh Realm included.

Carter did not mince words when asked if Fox had jumped the gun in cutting life-support on Harsh Realm: “Yes,” was his terse reply. Asked about the emotional impact of the cancellation, he became more voluble: “There were a lot of people invested in it, a lot of my friends here, whom I work with, a lot of people who had been giving a tremendous amount of attention and energy to it. For it to be so summarily and thoughtlessly canceled really just hurt a lot of people. That is something you deal with in ways that no one but people on the inside would know.”

If keeping some things within the production family was Carter’s automatic response to the tragedy, it was no surprise that he’d respond to questions about Duchovny’s litigious revolt with similar caution: “I’m not going to talk about the lawsuit, because I’ve been asked not to. But along with the creative aspect of the job, there’s a business aspect of the job. This was about business, and the business is often-competing interests.”

Was it easy, though, to set aside those interests when Carter had to face his recalcitrant star on the soundstage? “We have not had words, if that’s what you mean.”

Maybe not – whatever kind of diva Duchovny may turn out to be, not witnesses have stepped forward to claim he ever brought his business problems to the set. Still, with “The Sixth Extinction,” the season opener of The X-Files’ seventh season, one had to wonder whether the actor wasn’t paying some sort of on-screen price for his legal hubris. Picking up from “Biogenesis,” the prior season’s cliff hanging final episode, “The Sixth Extinction,” offered us a Mulder reduced to a comatose state, and maintained in that condition for the bulk of the hour. Looking close into Duchovny’s glazed stare, one could imagine someone fairly high up the production latter whispering in the actor’s ear, “Is this the way you want to play out your final season?” The perplexities only doubled in the following week’s “Amor Fati,” a script credited to both Carter and Duchovny. In a scenario that recapitulated the finale of Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, we got a Mulder wishing for any path other than the one his life had taken, and an operating table crucifixion, complete with high-tech crown of thorns, that heaped on intimations of the agent’s divine status, at least by his own perception, in shovelfuls. Daring, dramatic experiment, or Duchovny’s calculatedly over dramatized retort to his tormentors? Only the authors knew for sure.

Said “Amor Fati” director Michael Watkins about Duchovny’s on-screen vision of martyrdom, “I think David is such a fine writer and such a free mind. Chris has obviously proven that, and David – who did [season six’s baseball-flashback] ‘The Unnatural’ and this – is so free, he’s so gifted. For him to write this, he was totally there with the character. That’s what it took and it was even more enlightening to have the writer be there right at the moment, so that we could really talk about where we were going, and the passion of these moments and these themes…And for poor David, lying on that table with that headgear on, it was extremely uncomfortable – his poor butt was cooking on the lights and [in that] head thing, he couldn’t move. It was sort of ironic, because he wrote himself into this awful position. We had a lot of smiles, though. I really like David and Gillian. I like them a lot.”

While the season opener did add more fuel to the mythos fire – suggesting that aliens were in possession of technologies that could do everything from cure cancer to explain Adam Sandler’s career – it was not immediately clear in what direction the balance of the season would go. “I actually thought this was going to be the year of Scully’s science,” admitted Carter. “That in doing that, there would be many spiritual concerns. Scully’s dilemma is: how do you reconcile faith in God and faith in science? That’s always an interesting question for the writers. I think we’re dealing with that on some levels; we’re actually telling six mythology episodes this season – in those that are dealing not just with Scully’s faith, but with Mulder’s faith as well. It has become somewhat spiritual, but I think what’s more interesting is that we set out to do one thing and then found ourselves being more interested in something else.”

Something else was right, although sometimes “anything else” might have been a more accurate description. The problem was, with one star pretty much admitting his full-bore animosity towards the show and his co-star not far behind in her contempt with the executive producer potentially resenting behind held in orbit around his only, bona-fide hit when, by all rights (and possibly without the network bumbling), he should have already achieved escape velocity with newer, more challenging projects, no one seemed confident enough in The X-Files’ future to declare a clear-cut path for the season.

About the only thing that could be noted this year was a definitive move away from the more humorous tone the show had taken after its sixth season move to California, a season that fans derisively had dubbed, “X-Files Lite.” Observed co-executive producer Vince Gilligan, “Last season we didn’t have any conscious intention to make it lighter, it just sort of wound up that way. I think we heard lot of people saying they missed the old-time scary ones, so we probably tried a little harder this season to make them scarier. Which is not to say we don’t have the occasional lighter one, like ‘The Amazing Maleeni.’ But I think as a whole that we’re not really heading in any specific direction, other than to say we need to find out pretty soon whether or not this is our last season, and that will inform quite a bit.”

Deprived of a clear-cut objective, The X-Files was free to try new directions in story-telling, but also evidenced one of the most telling signs of a show that had outlived its concept: creeping redundancy, “Chimera,” about murder in a mini-Peyton Place, recapitulated the ambiance of last season’s Mulder-goes-suburban “Arcadia,” but without that episode’s subversive tang.

The witty “The Amazing Maleeni,” about a couple of conniving illusionists, not only failed to shake its ties to the classic “Humbug,” but in an overall plot structure that had Mulder and Scully slowly becoming cognizant of their participation in a mechanism greater than could be immediately perceived, also seemed an earthbound reworking of December’s more supernatural “The Goldberg Variations.”

Meanwhile, the strain marks continued to show, with at least seven of the episodes constructed to keep the bantering agents apart (and one, the killer tobacco “Brand X,” even contriving to put Mulder into a coma again), and enough episodes to set at least part in California (including, curiously, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz’s effective Appalachian-revenge thriller, “Theef”) to make one wonder whether last season’s production move wasn’t finally taking its toll. Both stars have clearly taken more active control in the show’s production, both to their benefit (Duchovny’s self scripted and directed “Hollywood A.D.”) and their detriment (ibid. “”Amor Fati,” and Anderson’s disastrous “all things,” a self-conscious outing in which Scully, hitherto to a devout Catholic, suddenly and inexplicably turns Buddhist). Whatever modifications – star inflicted or otherwise – have occurred to The X-Files characters (and what the hell happened to Mulder’s fondness for skin rags, anyway?), Carter claimed that such changes could only be expected over the span of seven years. “I think Mulder is still a willing participant to any adventure that cannot be explained; he still takes the unpopular side; he still puts it in the face of his superiors. If anything, though, he has worked with a partner who has seen so much that’s he’s not able to get as big a rise out of her as he once did. I think he may seem to be less of the ‘Spooky Mulder’ that she came to know early on. But the aspect of Mulder’s character is still the same in that he wants to believe he is looking for phenomena that cannot be explained and that might expand his perception of reality.”

As for Scully’s ability to remain the skeptic after having been exposed to weekly helpings of aliens, poltergeists, and giant mutated fluke-men, Carter said, “Scully’s a scientist, so she comes to everything scientifically. Even though she sees something that she can’t explain, she thinks it can ultimately be explained. That’s her M.O. and her bias. So while she has seen a lot, she is never going to take anything at face value and say, ‘That is paranormal.’ She will always look for a rational and scientific explanation.”

The season was far from a total wash. Gilligan was responsible for two-engaging envelope-pushers – the monster P.O.V experiment “Hungry” and the reality-TV satire “X-Cops” – and the darkly vivid Monster-of-the-week “Theef.” The mythos two-parter “Sein Und Zeit” and “Closure” took the questionable tactic of trying to explain the JonBenĂ©t Ramsey killing in supernatural terms, but also provided an emotionally engaging conclusion to Mulder’s search for his sister Samantha (while, in fine X-Files tradition, raising three new questions for every one that it answered). And the cleverly titled, William B. Davis scripted “En Ami” dared to give us a glimpse at the Cigarette Smoking Man’s humanity, while still keeping his motivations shrouded in clouds of Marlboro smoke. Admitted Carter, “This show is so elastic that it succeeds on so many levels. I think that there is no one episode that is a crystallization of what the show does best, because it always is surprising, even to me, how many things it does well. The fact that we can actually make fun of ourselves and everyone seems to have fun doing it and fun watching it, I think, says a lot about the show, too. It is protean.”

However mutable the series might have been, though, it could’nt accommodate all situations, especially when the decision to move ahead on an eighth season was delayed until the very end of season seven. “We’re still waiting to hear,” Gilligan said in January. “[20th Century-Fox Television and Fox Broadcasting topper] Sandy Grushow said that he thought it was a 50/50 chance at this point. I don’t know what the exact odds are, but I do know for sure it is still up in the air and we are waiting for a final verdict from David Duchovny and Chris Carter.

“We need to find out pretty soon whether or not this is our last season, and that will inform us quite a bit. If it is our last season, we just need to know so we can end the show properly with a great two-part episode or a three-part[er] or something like that. If not our last season, I guess we’re just…we don’t really have…Chris Carter and [executive producer] Frank Spotnitz may have more of a master plan, but I think generally if this is not our last season we’re all basically doing what we always do, which is trying to come up with a good mix of mostly scary and some suspenseful and some lighter episodes, and just keep entertaining our audience.

“You know, it’s a shame: with the original Star Trek, they didn’t know they had been canceled during their hiatus, and they didn’t get a chance to do a final episode, which I guess everybody would have appreciated. I don’t think anyone’s going to let that happen here. If X-Files ends, I can’t imagine it would be because we’re canceled. It would only be because David Duchovny and Chris Carter and Gillian Anderson decided it was time to move onto other things.”

Of course, any vote that incorporated Duchovny’s choice was easy to prognosticate. By April, the actor was talking openly with Entertainment Weekly about how his “Hollywood A.D.” episode would be “my way of saying good-bye,” and speculating on what his life would have been like if The X-Files had backed off the Mulder/Scully interplay and become more an ensemble show (Here’s a hint: “Hi, I’m David Duchovny for 10-10-321…” Jeez, hasn’t the man ever seen The Others?).

Taking no chances, Fox gave Chris Carter the go-ahead to spin The Lone Gunmen – the conspiracy theorists and cyber-geek poster-boys who were rarely seen this season – off into their own series, the pilot being hastily assembled and shot in early spring in Vancouver.

As far as what path an X-Files eighth season might take, no one dared to speculate. “It’s a question we’re always asking ourselves,” admitted Gilligan, who has a contractual commitment with Fox for at least the next season, and who claimed he would be happy to continue on with the show.

“Everyone knows that [Scully and Mulder] have a tremendous respect for one another, certainly a platonic love for one another and they would each lay down their lives for the other. I think that’s the way we like it, that’s the way a lot of the fans like it as well. That could probably blossom into some sort of romantic relationship, but I think we’re also reluctant to push it to that level. Other than that, I don’t really have a great answer for you.”

Carter again minced no words when asked about his intentions to participate in the next X-Files movie: “That’s my plan.” As for moving with the show into season eight, his public stance was initially one of guarded optimism: “I would only do it if I felt that everyone wanted to do it, because I felt that there were plenty of good stories to tell. If everyone felt that they were up to it, I would be excited to continue. I think that anything past year five is difficult for a series, but it’s also where, if you can work in a collaborative and creative way, I think you can find things that you didn’t know where there. I think that we’re at that place, we can continue to be. The other reason would be that there are very few, great television ideas, and something like The X-Files has the ability to generate so many different kinds of stories that you cannot close the door on it just because you can. The show becomes bigger than its parts. If there were more good stories to tell, I think, in a way, it’s only doing justice to continue on.”

But it seemed that, after making that statement, the exec producer took a more careful inventory of the stories remaining to be told and decided hat justice had well been served. Come April, both Carter and Spotnitz had signed up with Miramax genre branch Dimension Films to respectively direct and producer/write Serios, a “true” story about a man able to project his thoughts onto film negative. Why this change of heart? “I have a contract [with Fox] that lasts through the end of this year,” Carter had said in 1999, prior to cutting the deal. “If I didn’t re-up, I probably wouldn’t be giving any attention to the show, but if I do re-up, I will be giving the same amount of attention to the show that I’ve always given to it, because I don’t want it to be anything other than what it could potentially be.” In light of ensuing events, it well appeared that Carter had made his own decision about his continuing involvement in the future of The X-Files.

As with all things X-Files, Carter now faces a daunting puzzle: how to devote time and attention to a major, feature film project while “giving the same amount of attention” to the show that placed his name on the media map.

Meanwhile, for the public’s sake, it was all smiles from the series’ principals as the show received the eighth season go-ahead. Duchovny, who just prior to renewal was seen looking bored on the all-star edition of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire (and who wound up taking home less money for his agonies than either Rosie O’Donnell or Ray Romano), told the press, ” I am pleased we were able to come to an agreement that enables me to remain part of The X-Files…I’m looking forward to going back to work.” Getting a salary raise to a reported $350,000-$400,000, and having his suit settled out of court no doubt helped.

But one had to wonder exactly how much Duchovny relished a return to the world of the sinister and the weird when part of his agreement dictated a lighter workload in the upcoming season. The result of that handy codicil: No one should expect Mulder’s prompt return from the alien fueled joy-ride that scooped him up at the end of “Requiem,” the seventh season closer.

With Mulder M.I.A (probably to some beach in the south of France), Scully in a family way (having apparently being knocked up while doing the stop-motion Macarena in an Oregon forest – did Anderson ask for some off-time as well?) and the Cigarette Smoking Man apparently passed on (though you can never keep a good creep down), it’s anybody’s guess who will be fit enough to pick up on the story come fall. Skinner? C’mon, do you really want to watch sixty minutes of paperwork? Krycek? An interesting alternative – his reformation is being hinted at, but ibid. the parenthetical for CSM.

The Lone Gunmen? Oops, sorry, they’ve got their own show to worry about that. No, The X-Files world is now filled with people who, through either contractual or other obligations, are too preoccupied to carry on work started seven years ago. It’s an ironic counterpoint to the questions posed at the beginning: the truth may still be out there, but there may be no one left to discover it.

Horroronline: Chris Carter Interview

Oct-??-2000
Horroronline
Chris Carter Interview
Ian Spelling

[typed by Alfornos]

“I think that when we get to the musical X-Files,” Chris Carter opines, “it will be over my dead body.”

Fortunately, matters aren’t that grave yet over at The X-Files, which begins its eighth season on November 5. It does so after a fairly decent seventh year that was arguably more memorable for its behind-the-scenes intrigue – Would the show return? Would David Duchovny come back? Would Carter or Gillian Anderson return if Duchovny didn’t? – than for the episodes themselves. And it does so, after the dust settled, with a great deal of promise. Duchovny signed on for a limited number of episodes. Carter inked a one-year deal and Anderson agreed to stay on for a ninth year. Adding to the sense of renewal, Carter and company tapped Robert Patrick – of Terminator 2 and The Sopranos – to partner with Anderson on the show as the search for Mulder (Duchovny) builds to a crescendo following his abduction by aliens and Scully’s (Anderson) post-abduction blockbuster revelation to Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) that she’s pregnant.

“Fox asked me very late in the season last year to do the show (for another year) and I said to them, “I really just don’t want to do this as a matter of commerce,'” Carter recalls. “I wanted it to be a good show. I wanted it to be special. I want this to be a great season of The X-Files. I want the event of Mulder’s disappearance to be an important event. I want the possibility that the show could go on. I wanted it to go on for all the right reasons. And there were business considerations because there was a lawsuit (filed by Duchovny, who sought a larger piece of the syndication money pie). There were business considerations because there are always business considerations when people don’t have contracts. So the reason the show is still on the air is that there were people that wanted to do it and still felt they could make it good. And that’s really the reason.”

So what happens in season eight? How is Patrick’s character, Agent John Doggett, woven into the fabric of the show? “Doggett is brought in to head up the investigation into Mulder’s disappearance,” says Carter, who had auditioned Patrick for the D.B. Sweeny role in the short-lived Harsh Realm and tapped Patrick for Doggett over the likes of Lou Diamond Phillips and Bruce Campbell. “He is an FBI agent and he was a (New York City) cop, and that’s actually not atypical for FBI agents. He is not assigned to the X-Files to begin with. He is not Scully’s (Anderson) partner to begin with. There is a gradual, hopefully realistic integration of the character into the series. He’s a skeptic. Unlike Scully, who really had science (on her side), Doggett comes at it as kind of a knee-jerk skeptic. He’s a person who is doubting by nature and he really is one of these people who needs to see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, in order to believe it. As simple as that sounds, hopefully we can make him a nice, complex character.

“When Mulder comes back to the show, that will be the interesting dynamic. How does it work between the three of them? I don’t know necessarily that it will be competitive (between Mulder and Doggett). In fact, it might be a symbiotic relationship. These are things we have to explore and, certainly, we look forward to exploring Scully and Doggett through the first half of the season. We’re not constructing the show for David and for David’s disappearance. I could have used him more and I could have used him less, to be honest. So, really, I’ve got to make it interesting for the audience and for myself and then, ultimately, make it interesting for the actors, too.”

Looking to the future, Carter expects The X-Files to return to the kinds of scary stand-alone episodes that made the show a keeper early on. Thus, expect fewer light-hearted episodes and perhaps fewer mythology hours. As for the bigger picture, the long run, it remains to be seen what the future holds for The X-Files. “Well, I don’t have a contract, so I’m right back where I started,” Carter says. “But I think there’s a terrific opportunity to (go beyond season eight) now that Robert Patrick is aboard. It’s really just figuring out how to tell the stories, and who to tell the stories with. David doesn’t have a contract past this year. It really becomes a contractual thing, and I wish it weren’t that way, but that’s the way the business works. It wasn’t a good situation to be in last year. We were writing (the season finale, “Requiem”) and filming the episode and not knowing whether or not we were coming back. Now, whatever happens, I’ll have a chance to plan it out. (Whether or not there’s another season) really depends on us doing good shows this year, making Doggett interesting, introducing new characters. Whether it goes on with David and Gillian, Robert or whomever, I really only want the show to go on if it’s going to be good.”

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Season 8 Preview

The truth is out there…for at least one more season.

After last year’s season finale fans of The X-Files were left to wonder if the show would return, and that had nothing to do with the final episode. David Duchovony was embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with Fox and didn’t appear he’d be back. Gillian Anderson was contracted for another year, but what would The X-Files be without Mulder? Well we’re going to find out, sort of.

Duchovny came to terms with FOX and signed on for 11 out of the 22 eighth-season episodes, a development that prompted series creator/boss Chris Carter to make up the difference by casting Robert (Terminator 2) Patrick as FBI Agent John Doggett. New characters and missing mainstays make this the most unpredictable season to date.

With the quasi-departure of Mulder, it falls to Scully, the natural skeptic, to find the truth. Doggett, a no nonsense, career-minded guy, will help after initially being in charge of locating Mulder. Look for Scully and her new partner to rub each other the wrong way right off the bat. Scully’s skepticism was always rooted in science; Doggett just doesn’t believe. After all Scully’s been through, like it or not, she’s a believer, but Doggett is cut from the “have to see it to believe it” cloth. It should be interesting to watch how Scully deals with the ambitious Doggett, who’s suddenly surrounded by paranormal investigations. Clearly, we’re in for a different kind of dynamic between the show’s main characters – and that’s not even factoring in the rebellious, often flighty Mulder.

Beyond the addition of Doggett, expect minor characters to grab more screen time. A.D. Walter Skinner, played by Mitch Pileggi, will become deeply involved in the X-Files after witnessing Mulder’s abduction last spring. Skinner’s attitude toward the paranormal will be more open since his close encounter last year. Newly appointed Deputy Director Kersh, played by James Pickens Jr., will spearhead tension at the Bureau between Scully, Skinner and Doggett. It’s Kersh who assigns Doggett to the X-Files as a smack in the face, to put him in his place, to reduce the threat that Doggett could one day vie for his chair. Then there’s Gibson Praise (Jeff Gulka), the young clairvoyant genius introduced in season 5. Expect to learn more about his alien physiology and origins.

If Cigarette Smoking Man really took his last puff in the season finale, count on others to start some trouble. Most likely we’ll see Krycek, played by Nicholas Lea, and Marita Covarrubias, played by Laurie Holden, become a little more active. And just because Bill Davis isn’t signed to a contract, that doesn’t mean CSM won’t be back. I’m pretty sure we’ll see those nicotine stained fingers again in the shadows.

Further, X-philes can look forward to more day-to-day activity from Chris Carter. For the first time in years, Carter’s plate is rather clean. Millennium is long gone and Harsh Realm barely hit the radar. So, until the Lone Gunmen spin-off really gets going, Carter will assume more creative control of the golden goose that got him started. As a result, expect the show to return to its roots with more one-shots and horror themed episodes, as well as fewer comedy-driven hours or gimmicky episodes. The search for Mulder will run throughout the season and, yes, he does show up in the season premiere, albeit briefly. By episode two, though, he and Doggett will have an explosive encounter to get things started and questions flying.

The truth used to be about alien invasions and paranormal occurrences. Going into season eight the truth is about very different subject matter. Can the X-Files reinvent itself after seven seasons? Will Robert Patrick be accepted by the hard-core X-Files fans or rejected by Mulder lovers everywhere? Can bulking up minor characters make up for a part-time Duchovny? The truth is out there, but just like every other X-File mystery: you’ll just have to wait to find it.

The X-Files Magazine: The Next Files

Oct-??-2000
The X-Files Magazine [US]
The Next Files

It’s really a different show than it’s been in the past seven years because the characters of Mulder and Scully so much defined the way every episode unfolded. And now when you take Mulder out and put in this other character, it changes everything.~ Frank Spotnitz

With a new lead character and reconfigures series’ dynamic to consider, you can bet The X-Files’ executive producer Frank Spotnitz is pretty preoccupied these days. As usual, he was still gracious enough to take the time to explain what the summer’s many developments mean for our beloved show.

Official Magazine What do all the changes mean for The X-Files?

Frank Spotnitz The series is really redefined by Mulder’s absence and by the addition of Robert Patrick’s character John Doggett. It’s really a different show than it’s been in the past seven years because the characters of Mulder and Scully so much defined the way every episode unfolded. And now when you take Mulder out and put in this other character, it changes everything. So, it’s been challenging. But it’s certainly been a welcome change of pace after years of doing the show one way. Doggett is really a guy’s guy, somebody who’s got a very successful career at the FBI, former cop. Smart, self-made man. Really different from Mulder and Mulder’s background. And we wanted to do that very deliberately to bring a fresh voice into The X-Files. How we worked with Scully and how Scully would work without Mulder was quite a puzzle. It doesn’t feel natural that Scully would suddenly jump into the Mulder role now that Mulder’s gone. That just isn’t who she is. And even though she’s come an incredibly long way in the past seven years and seen a lot of things and had her skepticism challenged, she isn’t gonna just become Mulder overnight just because he’s not there. And yet she is leading this unit and leading the investigations into the cases. And Doggett finds himself playing the role that Scully used to play. No episode in the season will be like the one that precedes it. It’s like the partnership is evolving from week to week, and we’re finding out as we write the scripts.

Official Magazine Can you clarify David Duchovny’s involvement this season?

Frank Spotnitz There’s a certain number of days he’s available in the first half of the season, and then there’s a certain number of episodes he’s available in the back half of the season. And it’s gonna depend on the stories we tell how many episodes at the end of the day it’ll actually be. I think 11 is kind of the maximum number he might indeed appear in, but there’s a good chance it will be less. I’m not sure how it will work out best for the stories we’re telling. I don’t think [he’s] likely to [direct] this year only because he is available to us in such a limited fashion, and when he’s directed in the past we’ve had to sacrifice use of him as an actor in order to allow him to direct. It’s kind of a similar problem for [Gillian]. We need her more than ever, and to make time out for her to direct and write would be difficult given how much we need her as an actress this year. [And] she has some personal commitments that have to come first in her life, and we’re doing our best to honor those.

Official Magazine What will happen to the mythology without Mulder?

Frank Spotnitz If you look back on the first season of The X-Files, there were episodes you could call mythology episodes, but really the mythology of the show did not begin until Gillian Anderson got pregnant and they had to write in the abduction storyline for Scully. And now, the mythology has been reinvented and restarted by having to write in the abduction storyline for David because of David’s contract. So, off-screen issues forced the mythology to really get started in Season Two and again to be reinvented in Season Eight. And it’s really a new ballgame. It really is like a fresh slate. I think you will see the characters of Krycek and Covarrubias, but they are very much a part of Mulder’s world. So, I think we’ll see them after Christmas in the back half of the season.

Official Magazine Is the CSM really dead?

Frank Spotnitz this is the first time in eight years where William B. Davis has not been under contract to The X-Files. There were other seasons where we thought he was dead, but he was always under contract, we always had a deal with him. And we no longer do.

Official Magazine What can you reveal about Scully’s baby?

Frank Spotnitz She is pregnant, we will deal with the pregnancy, but you’re not going to see it every week, every episode. It’s not gonna be something we dramatize. Trust me, off screen she’s thinking about it, but it doesn’t always work in all of these stories that have Scully, especially since it’s a secret that only Skinner knows about. It’s not something you can expect to see her dealing with every week, at least in the first half of the season.

Official Magazine What are your hopes for this season?

Frank Spotnitz Well, to be honest, I was unsure whether it was wise to even go forward with this season, and the decision was really not mine. It’s one that other people made. And having embarked upon this season, I want it to be vindicated creatively. I want people to understand that creatively, it was a good thing to do. I want to reinvent the series for the character of John Doggett. I want that character to be rewarded with the full potential that I know that character and actor possess. And so, if at the end of this season, we created a character that people like and are interested in, then I’ll feel like the year’s been a success, whether it’s the last year of the series or not. And I think there’s a chance that it won’t be the last year of the series, if that character is as successful as I know he can be.

Official Magazine Aside from Chris Carter’s bat-man tale, what stories can we look forward to?

Frank Spotnitz Vince Gilligan is writing a story that’s about a very strange community in the middle of nowhere and Scully gets stranded there, and the locals have a terrible and weird secret that she doesn’t [seem to be able to] penetrate. It’s a great, paranoid and scary, isolated story that’s very much centered on the character of Scully. David Amman has a story about a boy who comes back from the past unchanged and he’s got a secret about what’s happened in the past 10 years, and it’s about Scully and Doggett trying to understand this little boy’s secret. Greg Walker’s got a story about a woman who is saved from a murder and believes she has a guardian angel who’s watching over her shoulder protecting her. But she’s wrong. It’s not what it seems to be at all. And Jeff Bell is working on a story about a man who is seemingly indestructible