X-Files Fan Club
Paint it (Frank) Black: Chris Carter
It goes without saying that we were thrilled when we learned that Chris Carter would be available to chat in conjunction with two high-profile DVD releases.
This issue, we kick off the interview with his thoughts on the first of those two releases, the debut season of Millennium.
Join us next issue for Chris on Harsh Realm, and two issues from now, we’ll get to the questions X-Philes have been dying to have answered, with the latest word from Chris on the upcoming X-Files movie.
But now, let’s return to the late 20th century and the early days of Chris’ second classic series for television, Millennium.
XFFC: Let’s talk about the genesis for the series concept. How did it evolve in the beginning?
CC: It came from an X-Files episode. There was an episode in season three called “Irresistible.” It was about a human monster rather than a supernatural monster, and it was a very successful episode. It was creepy and scary and disturbing. I thought, “This is interesting.” You can tell these stories about people who are among us and make a good scary show like The X-Files. So that’s what I set out to do. I had a character in mind that became Frank Black. The only thing I didn’t have was the concept of the oncoming millennium, but that later presented itself to me. So it was those three things: A murder mystery each week, the character of Frank Black and his cross to bear, and the upcoming millennium. Those were the three elements that made me interested in the show.
XFFC: You mentioned Frank Black, who was played by Lance Henricksen. What did finding Lance bring to the table?
CC: I wrote it for him. It was just a stroke of luck that I was able to get it to him. He was staying at the same hotel that we had all either lived at or stayed at during the early days of The X-Files. Luckily, I had connections there at the hotel, and I had someone slip a note under his door. I have to say, I did a little bit of extra sales pitching with him. But he was very receptive, and I think flattered. He loved the material and continues to. He and I have spoken about doing a Millennium movie, whether or not that would ever happen. Maybe it could, based on the success of this DVD release.
XFFC: So you had The X-Files up and running, and then you also launched Millennium. What was it like doing two shows at once? That must have been at least a little bit taxing.
CC: Yeah. I’d never done it before, so it was a trick. I wish I could tell you that I had a system, but mostly it was just that I worked like hell.
XFFC: Do you remember how many hours a day?
CC: It was crazy. You were never not working. We did the X-Files movie that year too.
XFFC: Unbelievable. Is there a moment or episode from that first season of Millennium that you’re most proud of?
CC: I have to say the pilot. It’s hard to come up with an idea that will launch a thousand episodes, but I think that I came up with the character and the idea, and you could see it. It only went 66 episodes, so it fell so much short of that goal. But the pilot sets up beautifully the world, the character, the objectives, and the obstacles, as all pilots should.
XFFC: Your shows seem to have a really strong thematic element to them. For you, what was the theme of Millennium? What was it about?
CC: It was about a person who was very good at his job, maybe even had a gift for it, and who had to make a choice between protecting his family and protecting the world. He had to weigh and balance and juggle both of those things as the millennium counted down. It began with the prospect of something terrible happening at the turn of the century, which we were all very nervous about in Y2K. That was interesting to me because it had been prophesied, not just in Nostradamus but in the Bible. There was power in those ideas, and I tried to use it as much as I could. What about a Millennium movie? what would that movie be, and what stage if any is the project in at this point? It’s only in the, “Gee, wouldn’t that be great?” stage. There’s been no talk about it, and I don’t know if there would ever be any talk about it beyond Lance and I saying, “That would be cool.” I actually have an interesting take on it, not even really a story, but an idea for how Frank Black would get into a movie. While there’s some inspiration, I don’t know if there will ever be opportunity.