X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

Archive for November, 2001

Zap2it: Chris Carter Continues Search for the Truth

Chris Carter Continues Search for the Truth
Vanessa Sibbald

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) – Producer Chris Carter doesn’t sound nervous, though he has good reason to be, at least when it comes to his show, FOX’s “The X-Files.” With his series’ ninth season underway without star David Duchovny, and rumors of Gillian Anderson on her way out, the executive producer is faced with the task of having to find a way to continue his hit drama with two new leads.

“What’s certain is that there’s still a tremendous number of stories that can be told, the trick is exploring them with this new cast of characters,” he tells Zap2it.com.

This is especially important since Anderson has said that she won’t return to the show next year. The departure of the actress may also signal the end of Carter’s time on the series.

“I never imagined doing what I’m doing on season nine. It’s against all odds,” he says. “The only reasons I stay are that I feel a tremendous loyalty to the people I work with. I feel that the show still is a good storytelling vehicle, and I feel a responsibility to make good on a promise that I would stay on the show as long as David and Gillian stayed with it.”

While it’s too early to tell what next year holds, Carter is in talks with 20th Century Fox to produce a sequel to the show’s feature film, which would likely re-team the “X-Files” creator with Duchovny and Anderson.

In the meantime, Carter is faced with creating the same kind of dramatic tension on the series that has made the show a favorite among critics and fans. Towards that effort, regular viewers will notice a deepening bond between the show’s leads, new agents Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish), but especially between Doggett and Scully.

“From the beginning Doggett has tremendous respect for Scully and I think that respect has blossomed into something else,” says Carter. “That was always our intention, that we would have a sort of triangle.”

Instead of a triangle, it appears the writers have created more of a linear line. Reyes is interested in Doggett, while he’s interested in Scully and Scully’s still thinking of Mulder. Add to the mix Doggett’s boss, Brad Follmer (Cary Elwes), who’s still interested in his former flame Reyes.

“There’s a lot of unresolved, unrequited and unspoken feelings going on in the show,” Carter agrees.

However, this is still “The X-Files,” and while Scully and Mulder did finally consummate their relationship at the end of last season (off camera, mind you), viewers must remember that Carter et al. have never been big supporters of the characters having actual fully-realized sexual relationships.

“There was a term I used, I was resistant to ‘domesticating’ the show,” he explains. “I felt it was wrong. ‘The X-Files’ was not a show about those kind of relationships, it was a show about ideas and about a search and a romantic quest — in the truest sense of the word.”

“It seemed to me that it would almost go against that kind of romance to have a physical relationship.”

So far, the ratings have suggested fans aren’t interested. “The X-Files,” which is normally one of FOX’s top three show, drew its lowest numbers since the show moved from Fridays to Sundays in 1996 for the second part of the season premiere on Nov. 18, pulling in just 9.4 million viewers. Last season, the show averaged 13.2 million viewers per episode. Carter points to stunt programming for sweeps and a late launch as to the cause behind the dip in numbers.

“It’s the same good show,” he says. “We premiered so late that there were a couple other shows in that timeslot that had already gathered some audience.”

Indeed, competition has increased this season with the introduction of NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and ABC’s “Alias.” It remains to be seen if the fans of the show will care as much about Doggett and Reyes as they did for Mulder and Scully.

“People are resistant to change,” Carter says. “It’s been Mulder and Scully for eight years and we’ve changed our focus from that relationship to another more complicated one. A relationship that has a different geometry because it involves more people.”

“I think it’s going to take people a little while to understand that we are moving in a forward direction, not a backward one.”

Kevin & Bean: Interview with Chris Carter

The Kevin and Bean Show, KROQ radio
Interview with Chris Carter

Kevin: How are you doing, Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files? Good morning.

Chris: Thanks for having me.

Kevin: Sure.

Bean: Good to see you. What have you been doing? How you been?

Chris: I’m good. Doing the same thing, ninth year of The X-Files.

Kevin: Nine years!

Bean: Ninth! Damn you!

Chris: Ninth inning. And, you know, just sort of doing the same thing. I went on a big surf trip this summer. That was my big summer vacation.

Kevin: Oh, really? Where’d you go?

Chris: I went to Indonesia.

Kevin: Indonesia to go surfing?

Chris: Yeah.

Kevin: Wow. It’s good to be Chris Carter.

Bean: Why — Chris, by the way, has a deep background in surfing, has done a lot of it — why Indonesia? Is there something special about the water or the waves down there?

Chris: Yeah, it’s this perfect surfing destination, and that’s where everyone wants to go.

Bean: Oh, is that right?

Chris: Yeah, so I went on a three-week trip.

Bean: That’s, like, the ultimate place?

Chris: It is right now.

Kevin: Now, did you run into any trouble? They’re having bad times down there in Indonesia. They’ve got a civil war going on. Was there trouble for you on land?

Chris: I was there just before all hell broke loose.

Bean: You weren’t dodging bullets as you were surfing?

Chris: I was dodging a lot of things but they weren’t bullets.

Kevin: Wow. Well, that’s good. A guy like you — and we’ve visited Chris on the set and we know how hard he works and the deadlines that he’s up against — you just need some time where you can just forget it, right? Just not think about the job.

Chris: Yeah, one of these days.

Bean: How do you keep — I know it’s an impossible question to answer, but you have to keep coming up with interesting storylines after nine years.

Chris: Yeah.

Bean: I mean, at the beginning at least you hadn’t exhausted everything.

Chris: Actually, I think what happens is that when you have exhausted the obvious stuff it actually gets better because it’s stuff no one else has thought about, so it forces you to work harder.

Kevin: So, the original stuff is just basically off the top and then you start really having to delve deep.

Chris: You have to figure out new ways to deal with the characters and new stories, just new ways to tell good X-Files stories.

Bean: Do you have what most writers consider writer’s block, where you just throw up your hands and say I can’t get past this place? And what do you do when you hit that spot?

Chris: They have a gun to your head so you’re just (laughs) not allowed to —

Kevin: You can’t do that?

Chris: You can’t have writer’s block.

Bean: In other words, you’ve got to write it even if it’s bad because it’s got to be done at a certain time.

Chris: It’s never bad, Bean.

Bean: I don’t mean — I don’t mean you — I mean — (Chris chuckles as Bean sputters) (all three laughing)

Kevin: What did you mean, Bean, exactly?

Bean: I’m just saying sometimes you just have to write. You don’t have any choice, and that forces you to pull from places you didn’t even know you had because of the deadline.

Chris: Well put.

Kevin: Do you have — A lot of writers have to figure out a way to get input. Do you? What do you do to try and replenish the well? Do you go to books? Do you read, watch movies?

Chris: I think we just really go to what scares us most. And then try to figure out interesting ways to tell good stories with the characters, take them through the journey so the audience kind of goes through it, too.

Bean: The truth is, there aren’t a lot of shows that have ever been on nine years on primetime television. That’s pretty remarkable.

Chris: Yeah.

Bean: And isn’t the show on X — I mean —

Chris: FX. Yes, and in syndication. You can’t miss The X-Files, it’s on at least three times a day. (laughs)

Kevin: It’s everywhere!

Bean: And you tune in and you go, “Man, Duchovny was, like, 17 when he started this show! Look at him!” And obviously Gillian didn’t have a stylist back then. It’s just so funny because you have literally seen these people grow up since they’ve been on TV.

Chris: Yeah, it’s true.

Bean: Now, I was telling Kevin earlier, I got the opportunity to get a sneak peak of the show that’s airing this Sunday night at 9 on Fox, and tell me if I’m overstating this — the best vomit scene in this history of primetime television. (Kevin laughs) Wouldn’t you say that’s accurate, Chris?

Chris: I think it is, actually. The guy who wrote and directed the episode, that’s his metier. That’s his deal.

Kevin: What’s that mean? He’s good at vomit?

Chris: Yes. He puts vomit in every script he writes for us.

Kevin: Really? Why?

Bean: In other words, he’s the vomit expert? If American Pie 2 is filming and they need some guy to throw up, they call your guy?

Chris: They should.

Bean: There is also one of — and you talk about having to mix it up, you think about how many people have been killed on The X-Files, I don’t know what the body count is over nine seasons, but one of the great murder weapons of all time, I think, is on the show this week, too. You know the one I’m talking about, Chris?

Chris: Which is?

Kevin: Are you guys just going to tease us all day, or what?

Bean: That’s the whole point of Chris coming in. The doctor in the chair. You know what I’m talking about.

Kevin: Doctor in the chair. Doctor in the chair. He must use a needle?

Bean: Come on, Chris. You’ve seen the episode.

Chris: (laughing) You’re gonna have to tell me. Oh, you mean the hypodermic needles?

Bean: Hypodermic needles all over her.

Kevin: Oh, ouch.

Chris: Human pin-cushion.

Bean: Yes! I mean, you just talk about something that just creeps you out when you see it, you’re like, “Oh man, I wasn’t prepared for that at all.”

Kevin: I see what you mean about stuff that scares you. That would freak me out. I am not a needle guy. We had your friend Robert Patrick in a couple of weeks ago, had not had him on the show before. What a terrific guy he is.

Chris: Yeah, he’s great.

Kevin: And you think about what he went through. He made it clear when he was on, “Look, I wasn’t brought in to replace Duchovny, no one replaces Agent Mulder on the show. I was brought in to play another character, to do something else.” And he’s just so good on that show.

Chris: Yeah, we actually lucked out. Not only is he a good actor and it’s great to write for him, but he’s just a great guy, a really hard-working, solid guy.

Bean: Is it hard to find people that are both good actors and good people?

Chris: Well, um … no, it’s just one of those things. When you get both you are blessed two ways.

Kevin: And tell us about — because I didn’t fully understand the need to bring in — I guess it’s Annabelle?

Chris: Annabeth.

Kevin: Annabeth, and also Cary Elwes. What was your thinking in terms of expanding the cast so much this year?

Chris: Well, it had been Mulder and Scully for eight years and so we just thought, let’s see if we can tell these stories in a different way, try not to repeat ourselves or duplicate ourselves, so we kind of went to an ensemble situation. But it’s really still a three-lead show now with Gillian still on the show.

Bean: How many times do you come up with an idea and then somebody else says, “Uh, no, that was year two?” “Sorry, we did that in year four.”

Chris: Every day.

Bean: It’s hard to keep track of, I imagine.

Chris: Yeah.

Kevin: What’ s your goal now for the movie franchise? Is it going to be difficult to bring back Duchovny for the movie, as we’ve always heard that he would do, now that he’s not on the TV show?

Chris: No, that was always the plan. I think it can become a movie series. We probably have 3-4 movies, X-Files movies to make. We’re very excited.

Bean: Really? Do you know in your mind where those three are gonna go?

Chris: Yes, and I tell no one so they can’t fire me.

Bean: So, you pretty much already have that figured out?

Chris: Yeah.

Bean: Damn, if it were me, I’d be going, “Oh, my God! I got to come up with three movies? How the hell am I gonna do that?” You’ve already got them in your mind?

Chris: Roughly.

Bean: Now, the first one was so great. It was better than anybody expected it was gonna be, because people looked at it as, oh, they’re cashing in, it’s a TV spinoff, or whatever. But it was terrific, and it held up on its own. You really took advantage of the things you could do on the movie screen that you couldn’t do on the small screen. It was just fantastic.

Chris: Thanks, and I think this next one will be even better.

Kevin: We need to take a break. We have Chris Carter in the studio. I would like to bring up — they always give us bio information on our guests that come in, and I had forgotten that you wrote and directed The Nanny. (laughing)

Chris: It’s not The Nanny that you know. It’s another Nanny.

Kevin: Good, because I was telling Bean, “Did he do The Nanny? Chris Carter — The Nanny?! No way!” All right, good, that’s good to hear. We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll come right back with Chris Carter and talk The X-Files next.

Bean: In the studio, one of the guys who has been on our program many times over the years. We are always happy to make some time for Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, Sunday nights on 9:00 on Fox. You know, porn legend Ron Jeremy is coming in next hour, Chris. He wasn’t in The XXX-Files, was he? He didn’t star in that movie, did he?

Chris: I think he wasn’t.

Bean: Because he was in Ally McFeel, so we weren’t sure if —

Kevin: He was also in I Love Juicy, so… (laughs)

Bean: We are talking about The X-Files. The 200th episode is on Sunday night. Is that right?

Chris: Uh, no, it’s coming up this year. We are in the 190s now, I think.

Bean: Wow. That is unbelievable.

Kevin: That is amazing. You got time for a couple of calls, Chris?

Chris: Yeah, sure.

Kevin: ‘Cause every time you come in, the fans have questions they’re burning to ask you.

Bean: Let’s say good morning to … Katrina?

Woman: Katrinka.

Kevin: That’s a made-up name.

Bean: That’s what it said, I just didn’t believe it. All right, Katrinka from Cyprus.

Katrinka: Hi. Chris, I just wanted to say thank you. I’m a big X-Files fan, such a big fan, my 4-year-old son knows that Sunday night is X-Files night. We love it. My question is, we just started watching Smallville this season and started noticing a big similarity in the show, especially Tuesday night, they did one where the girl was sucking the fat out of people —

Chris: Yes.

Katrinka: And that was a big X-File once. When stuff like that happens, do you feel flattered, does it upset you, or you don’t care, or what?

Kevin: You don’t have anything to do with that show, do you?

Chris: No, I have nothing to do with that show.

Kevin: Okay. They copy you?

Chris: You know, actually, I saw a little bit of the pilot. People have been saying they have been seeing some X-Files stories on the show. I don’t know, I guess it is flattering.

Kevin: Well, they do draw from the same well, too. So, there are people who come up with ideas independently who are working in the same genre.

Bean: You have developed that well for quite some time, too.

(K&B ask the caller about her name, etc.)

Kevin: How much time do you have to even watch TV or movies, Chris? Any?

Chris: (chuckles) None.

Kevin: Really?

Chris: Yeah.

Bean: Chris has a miserable life. I’m telling you right now, Chris is miserable. He sits in front of his little computer screen and just types. Twenty hours a day.

Kevin: That’s so sad.

Chris: (defensive) No, I watch enough TV.

Bean: No, you don’t.

Kevin: What are your favorite shows on TV?

Chris: I like The Sopranos.

Bean: So this is great for you, ’cause you got a year off. You don’t have to worry about watching that.

Chris: That’s true. I want that job.

Bean: What else? (silence) You can name one TV show.

Chris: I’m a surfer. I watch NYPD Blue. I think it’s great.

Bean: Yeah? What’s the last movie that you enjoyed?

Chris: I saw Spy Game the other night. That was kind of good.

Kevin: I liked that a lot.

Chris: And … um …

Bean: And that’s it. (all laugh) Let’s talk to Joe from West LA. This is a question that is asked of every person who creates entertainment in Hollywood these days. Joe, good morning, you’re on with Chris Carter.

Joe: Hi. When you did the movie, you blew up a building in Dallas which looked reminiscently like the Oklahoma City bombing —

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Joe: And also the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen, you had a plot for a passenger jet to be crashed into the World Trade Center. I’m just wondering, in light of the September 11 events have you gotten more self-conscious with your writing?

Chris: You think about it every day. So, it’s something that we won’t touch on the show. I don’t think we have any perspective on it, and we do entertainment.

Bean: So, you’ve tried to stay away

Chris: Yeah. It’s a very sensitive subject right now, and I don’t think that it’s subject matter for us.

Kevin: You also depict people high up in the Government and for a while after September 11, you weren’t allowed to cast aspersions on the President or any of his staff.

Bean: Boy, did we find that out the hard way.

Kevin: Yeah, we sure did. I mean, your presentation of the government, even, some people could look at and kind of feel weird about it because it’s not patriotic right now.

Chris: Well, we deal with factions inside the government, so it’s not the government, per se. It’s not the big bad evil government, it’s factions within it.

Bean: And that’s how you make yourself feel better at night? (laugh)

Kevin: One more, from Mike in Hollywood. Hello, Mike? (no answer) Oh, he’s gone. He wanted to know if you were going to release seasons 5-8 on DVD.

Chris: Yes, we are.

Kevin: I imagine that makes sense. Isn’t it great to be have DVD, to be able to have the entire collection?

Chris: Yeah, it’s incredible to me

Bean: Have you been able to do stuff? What kind of things have you been able to add to The X-Files DVDs?

Chris: We add some stuff in, scenes that were missing or deleted or had to be taken out for time, and then there’s commentary. So it’s got a lot of bonus stuff.

Lisa [a show staffer]: Will it help us understand?

Kevin: No.

Chris: Follow the bouncing ball?

Bean: Nothing will do that.

Kevin: Although we’re convinced — we didn’t even bring this up — Chris has no idea what’s going on in The X-Files.

Lisa: He lost control in season two.

Bean: He doesn’t have a clue.

Kevin: All along he said, “I know what’s going to happen, I know what’s going to happen.” And we just doubt him.

Bean: We are calling bogus on that. Absolutely calling bogus!

Kevin: We have to go, but what else you can tell us about Sunday night’s X-Files, except the throw-up scene? What else have you got for us, anything? Whet our appetite?

Chris: It’s a stand-alone episode, which means it’s not a mythology episode. It really does what The X-Files, I think, does best, which is scare the pants off of you.

Bean: It does that. I’ve seen it, I recommend it, folks. You should check it out, Sunday night on 9 on Fox.

Kevin: There you go. Chris Carter, thanks very much for coming in.

Chris: Thanks for having me.

Kevin: We appreciate it.



The X-Files writer-producer Frank Spotnitz told us that he’s not sure if there will be a 10th season of the SF series, but he added that this year’s episodes are being crafted with an eye towards the possibility. “One of the first things this season, before we even knew if [series creator] Chris [Carter] was coming back, was figuring out how the show would work for season nine, and then how it could work for seasons 10 and 11 and beyond if the audience were there,” Spotnitz said in an interview. Spotnitz added, “We didn’t want to write ourselves into a corner, so we really planned for the future.

We took into consideration the fans and the actors who are putting so much into making the show a success. Robert [Patrick] and Annabeth [Gish] are really killing themselves, working incredibly long hours, being very disciplined and dedicated, and trying to make everything as good as it can be, because they have to prove themselves. We wanted to honor that and find a way for the show to go forward.”

A 10th year could prove problematic, however, even assuming the lackluster ratings for this year’s batch of shows perk up. Gillian Anderson is in the last year of her contract. Carter only signed a one-year deal for this season. And even Spotnitz has yet to ink a deal. “Will I come back?” he asked. “I don’t know. I really don’t know. Will Chris come back? Given how long it took him to sign this year, I think there’s a very good chance he won’t. And the same questions apply to the rest of the people who’ve made the show what it is all these years. I would like to think the show, because it’s such a good idea, because of all the great people, could go on even if we didn’t come back, but there are other issues, too. [There are issues of] economics and political support, internally and at the studio. There are battles fought that people don’t know about, that they don’t need to know about, but that all factor into the final decision.”

Cinescape: The Scares Are Out There

The Scares Are Out There
Melissa J. Perenson

[typed by Megan]

While The X-Files originally started out as a cult series focusing on the paranormal, over the course of eight years the genre mainstay has managed to deliver more thrills, chills and scares than any other network series on television. Most of those jolts came during the show’s initial four years (as evidenced by our lists here) …which is probably later seasons for not being scary enough.

The all-time creepiest X-Files episodes ever

5) “Tooms” (season one) Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong | Director: David Nutter Plot: A sequel to the series’ third episode, “Squeeze”, it’s the return of the liver-eating mutant who can hibernate and elongate his body.

Why it’s scary: Among other things, Tooms is crushed to death by an escalator.

Origin: “Tooms’ was just about trying to get it right,” says Morgan, who wasn’t pleased with how “Squeeze” turned out. “That [idea] came about when I was Christmas shopping at the Thousand Oaks Mall and these guys were working the elevator. The base of the escalator is a metal plate and you lift it up and these guys were inside of it. And I thought, “That would be great if somebody lived down there.”

4) “Pusher” (season three) Writer: Vince Gilligan | Director: Rob Bowman Plot: Robert Modell, also known as Pusher, can get into people’s minds – literally. That’s handy for bending his victims, not to mention the police and the FBI, to his will.

Why it’s Scary: The concept of a killer who wills death on his victims, making it look like suicide, is scary enough, but the fast-paced, tautly written script heightens the drama.

3) “Die Hand Die Verletzt” (season two) Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong | Director: Kim Manners Plot: A high school in a sleepy New Hampshire town is riddled with occultists and dark forces.

Why it’s scary: Take your pick from the cornucopia of topics here – devil worship, repressed memories, a teenager’s suicide, a high school parents’ association filled with members who practice Black Magic.

Origin: For his last hurrah before leaving The X-Files, Morgan thought it would be appropriate to do a horror episode. “The idea of a satanic PTA just struck me as funny,” recalls Morgan who adds that its most vicious moment is when a snake eats a human being. “People talk about ‘Home’ being the most violent episode. I think ‘Die Hand Die Verletzt’ is the most disturbing.”

2) “Unruhe” (season four) Writer: Vince Gilligan | Director: Rob Bowman Plot: Killer Gerry Schnauz generates psychic photographs of his victims – whom he has lobotomized with an ice pick.

Why it’s scary: Again abducted by a killer, Scully is bound, gagged and at a madman’s mercy; in this case, Pruitt Vince plays the madman to perfection. Mulder find his partner in time – but just barely.

Origin: Gilligan explains that the story sterns from the world’s first modern mass-murderer Howard Unra who was a war vet from New Jersey back in 1947. “He came home and took his stolen German world for unrest is unra; so, the guys name literally meant unrest. The finished story had nothing to do with that, but the idea, originally, was that somehow the word keeps coming up and then people start to kill.”

1) “Home” (season four) Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong | Director: Kim Manners Plot: A grotesquely malformed infant is discovered in a shallow grave and the FBI is called in.

Why it’s scary: The incestuous plot is disturbing enough, but Manners’ crafty shooting makes this one of the most horrifying and notorious episodes ever aired.

Origin: After creating the short-lived Space: Above and Beyond, Morgan and Wong returned to the show wanting to create a truly scary episode. “I had no idea it would create the ruckus it did,” admits Morgan who was inspired by a passage in Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography for this episode. “[Chaplin] had been traveling in a musical theater vaudeville circuit in England and had stayed at a place that was like a tenement and the family that ran it took a liking to him and they said, ‘Come on in here, we’ve got to show you this.’ So he goes upstairs to this one-room tenement with a cot, and from beneath the cot they wheeled out a boy with no arms and no legs. They lift him up and the family starts singing and clapping and the kid starts dancing. The family thinks this is really some special treat and Chaplin is just horrified. I thought, ‘This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard and we should do some variation of that.'”

In spite of the reaction to the graphic nature and disturbing concept, Morgan hoped to bring the characters back while executive producing Millennium. “[The idea was] the mother and the one kid survived and Frank comes across them,” says Morgan. “It would have been great, but then FOX put a ban on ‘Home’ forever.”

Looking back, Spotnitz muses that the commotion generated by the episode was really a case of much ado about nothing.

“There were a lot of notes and a lot of things cut out,” he says of the episode. “The ideas were very disturbing, but what was actually shown? It’s actually very artfully done.”

The dirty secret at the heart of the FBI, a project no one at the prestigious law enforcement agency wants to talk about. The X-Files are the morass of unsolved cases whose details are too perplexing for modern investigative methods to crack. Dealing with subject matter too embarrassing or irksome for the establishment, they were left to languish in the basement until Special Agent Fox Mulder assumed responsibility for that section, sacrificing his reputation in the process. Special Agent Dana Scully was assigned as his partner shortly thereafter, to debunk his investigations on scientific grounds and keep an eye on “Spooky” Mulder.

Unfortunately, during the course of their adventures – now popularized through a successful FOX network television series – Scully began to tolerate and later adopt many of Mulder’s wild theories on alien abduction, mutant maniacs, magical and supernatural phenomena and complex government conspiracies aimed at assisting an alien race with the subjugation and colonization of the planet Earth. Naturally, most of their so-called investigations have ended with inconclusive results and would be laughed out of every court in the nation.

Perhaps realizing the futility of his crusade, and feeling he had achieved closure in his decade-long search for his missing sister (who he believed was abducted by those same aliens!). Mulder has left the X-Files. They are now the domain of Agent Scully and new Agents John Doggett and Monica Reyes. As Agent Scully once said, “The truth is out there – but so are lies.” Those two newcomers will no doubt be hearing some big ones very soon.