Archive for April, 2008

The A.V. Club: Interview: Chris Carter

Apr-22-2008
The A.V. Club
Interview: Chris Carter
Keith Phipps

[Original article here]

Chris Carter spent the ’80s working as a writer and editor for Surfing magazine and developing TV shows for Disney before creating the TV series that made his name. Debuting in the fall of 1993 on Fox, The X-Files became one of the defining television series of the ’90s. Starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, two FBI agents charged with investigating strange cases, The X-Files mixed hard science and fringe beliefs into stories that were alternately comedic, terrifying, and philosophical. Playing Scully’s skepticism against Mulder’s credulity, it used pre-millennium tension, post-Watergate paranoia, UFO lore, and long-simmering sexual tension to create an atmosphere all its own.

It proved tough to imitate. Other Carter projects, like Harsh Realm and the X-Files spin-off The Lone Gunmen, faded quickly. The high-profile Millennium developed a cult following, but died after three seasons. Meanwhile, the 1998 release of the feature film The X-Files: Fight The Future signaled a high-water mark for the show’s grip on the pop-culture imagination, coinciding with a move of operations from Vancouver to Los Angeles after The X-Files‘ fifth season. Later seasons were notable for declining ratings and Duchovny’s limited participation.

But the cult never really went away, and this June will see the debut of the new film X-Files: I Want To Believe, which reunites Carter, Duchovny, and Anderson. Carter has remained tight-lipped about the plot, beyond revealing that it will be a standalone, not tied to the series’ overarching story about a long-in-the-making alien invasion. But in a recent conversation with The A.V. Club, Carter had plenty to say about changing times and the reasons for doing a movie now.

The A.V. Club: You’d have to be in the final stages of making this film now, right?

Chris Carter: Well, sort of. We finished filming about three weeks ago, so we’re editing now, and we’ll be editing and doing post-production right up until the première.

AVC: It’s been six years since The X-Files went off the air. Does that put more pressure on you for this movie?

CC: To make the movie, or to make the movie good?

AVC: To make the movie good.

CC: There’s always the pressure to make the movie good. I don’t know if it adds any time—I think it actually was just the right amount of time away, for me and for the audience, I hope. Those are my instincts.

AVC: Why do you think that is?

CC: There were 202 episodes of The X- Files. I think it was time to finish when we finished, but I think that there’s still a fan base out there. And they’re the reasons for me to do it again. And also David Duchovny was anxious to do another movie, as was Gillian. And it just seemed like Fox came to us and said “now or never,” so “now” was probably the best answer.

AVC: Why would it be now or never? Do you not think it would have still worked a couple years from now?

CC: It possibly could, but there was a writers’ strike coming up, and they wanted to do it before the strike.

AVC: Spoilers are now a problem in a way that they really weren’t when you were doing the series, yet you’ve done a good job of keeping the details of this film under wraps. What was that process like?

CC: Working with people you trust, and having done it before. Only showing the script to the people that needed to see it. Everybody wants to keep it a secret. It’s really, as Fox has pointed out to me, it’s the people who have a script and they leave it on their kitchen table, and somebody else looks at it, that’s how the details get out. I don’t know if we’ll stay successful in keeping the details a secret. The system is something you can’t control completely, so we’re trying to do our best.

AVC: Some fans have expressed disappointment that the film won’t be part of the overarching mythology of the show. What was the thinking behind that?

CC: It goes right back to the time we started talking about—it’s really been 16 years since the show first aired. There are kids in college now who never saw The X-Files, because they were too young, or their parents didn’t let them watch it. So I think you need to reintroduce the show, the idea, and the characters to a new audience. And I don’t think you can do it with a mythology episode. I think it’s best done with a standalone story. But we’re mindful of the characters, and the history they have together, and of that mythology, and how it relates to their personal histories. So there is, I would call it, an aspect of mythology in the show only because the characters produce that mythology.

AVC: So it won’t be completely ignored, then.

CC: It won’t be completely. What I don’t want to do is, I don’t want to insult the intelligence of the fan base, and have to take them through, I call it, a re-conceptualizing of the show.

AVC: The X-Files worked in part because it was in touch with this sort of vague, free-floating 1990s paranoia. Do you sense that our fears have changed in 2008?

CC: Yeah, they went away, and we trusted everyone. I should say, we trusted the government completely. And I think that’s changed again, and I think that there’s an element of distrust, and maybe the paranoia is different. But it was short-lived, that period of fear and trust in your government to protect your life and your interests.

AVC: Has what frightens you changed over the last 16 years?

CC: I think the longer you live, the more you see larger patterns in power and the corruption of absolute power. And I guess the things that frighten me are the same things, but now I have to say they’re an accretion of experience, and they come through being a good student.

AVC: Your roots were in comedy before you started The X-Files, and yet it began as a deadly serious show. Did you have to fight your instincts when you were first putting the show together?

CC: Well, it wasn’t a deadly serious show, there was actually humor in it, and I think David Duchovny was funny from the beginning. It was mild, though, because you don’t want to undermine, I would call it, the paranoia of the show. And it became actually a very funny show, not necessarily as a result of any of my comedic ability. It really became a comedy show as a combination of the terrific writers who came to write on it, and then one writer who really busted it open, Darin Morgan.

AVC: Fans never really embraced, in the later seasons, the idea of moving the focus away from Mulder and Scully. Why do you think that relationship resonated so strongly with viewers?

CC: I think it was, for me, an ideal relationship. It was cerebral, it was not easy, it was challenging. I think that the protectiveness he showed her, and the trust that she showed him, was something that was just lacking certainly in life, and then also in maybe entertainment relationships.

AVC: The X-Files always had at least one toe in actual science. Will that be important in the film as well?

CC: Absolutely.

AVC: Any scientific concepts that people might want to brush up on before seeing this movie?

CC: No. [Laughs.] But I never thought of it as a science-fiction show to begin with, even though it was labeled as science fiction, because I wanted it to be in the realm of speculative science, the kind of what-if, taking hard science and applying an unexplained quality.

AVC: Do you keep track of scientific developments, for your process?

CC: As much as I can.

AVC: What are your sources?

CC: My brother teaches at MIT, so I have a good source there. I did a fellowship at the Institute For Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara while I was taking some time off. I have friends who are scientists, and I read regularly science journals, etc.

AVC: You shut down your production company when The X-Files went off the air. What have you been doing in the meantime?

CC: I took some well-needed time off to think.

AVC: Lost, a show that’s obviously been influenced by The X-Files, made a big deal about announcing a definitive end point. Was that ever considered for The X-Files?

CC: No, the reason… We went to season five and we did the movie. Actually, at the end of season four, I could have left, and I might have opted to. My contract was up, and I could have left, and it would have been a successful show. But it was clear that Fox was going to—because it was a powerhouse for their schedule and for their network—the show was going to go on, and it would have gone on without me. And I had made a pledge to the actors that I would stay with the show as long as they did. And that kept me going, so there was not an end point imagined, which was a result of the fact that Fox was not going to end that show anytime without a reason to end it. And I think that it’s a luxury for the creators of Lost to be able to have an end point, and to have a network that supports it. I’m sure the network is not happy about it, because it is a business first, and entertainment second. And they get to put one before the other, which is a luxury that I didn’t actually have or imagine.

AVC: You’ve suggested that the years have made you even less trustful. Is there any sort of hopefulness to The X Files?

CC: Yeah, I think the whole concept of “trust no one,” if that was a mantra of The X-Files, is basically a desperate cry for someone to trust. And I think the show has been exceedingly hopeful, and the idea that it’s not is, I think, not looking deep into what the heart of the show is.

USA Today: Title of ‘X-Files’ sequel released

Apr-16-2008
Title of ‘X-Files’ sequel released
USA Today
David Germain

[Original article]

LOS ANGELES — The truth is finally out there about the new X-Files movie title.

The second big-screen spinoff of the paranormal TV adventure will be called The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Chris Carter, the series’ creator and the movie’s director and co-writer, told The Associated Press.

Distributor 20th Century Fox signed off on the title Wednesday.

The title is a familiar phrase for fans of the series that starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents chasing after aliens and supernatural happenings. I Want to Believe was the slogan on a poster Duchovny’s UFO-obsessed agent Fox Mulder had hanging in the cluttered basement office where he and Anderson’s Dana Scully worked.

“It’s a natural title,” Carter said in a telephone interview Tuesday during a break from editing the film. “It’s a story that involves the difficulties in mediating faith and science. I Want to Believe. It really does suggest Mulder’s struggle with his faith.”

I Want to Believe comes 10 years after the first film and six years after the finale of the series, whose opening credits for much of its nine-year run featured the catch-phrase “the truth is out there.”

Due in theaters July 25, the movie will not deal with aliens or the intricate mythology about interaction between humans and extraterrestrials that the show built up over the years, Carter said.

Instead, it casts Mulder and Scully into a stand-alone, earth-bound story aimed at both serious X-Files fans and newcomers, he said.

“It has struck me over the last several years talking to college-age kids that a lot of them really don’t know the show or haven’t seen it,” Carter said. “If you’re 20 years old now, the show started when you were 4. It was probably too scary for you or your parents wouldn’t let you watch it. So there’s a whole new audience that might have liked the show. This was made to, I would call it, satisfy everyone.”

Hardcore fans need not worry that the movie will be going back to square one, though, Carter said. The movie will be true to the spirit of the show and everything Mulder and Scully went through, he said.

“The reason we’re even making the movie is for the rabid fans, so we don’t want to insult them by having to take them back through the concept again,” Carter said.

Carter said he settled on I Want to Believe from the time he and co-writer Frank Spotnitz started on the screenplay. It took so long to go public with it because studio executives wanted to make sure it was a marketable title, he said.

The filmmakers have kept the story tightly under wraps to prevent plot spoilers from leaking on the Internet, a phenomenon that barely existed when the first movie came out in 1998.

“We went to almost comical lengths to keep the story a secret,” Carter said. “That included allowing only the key crewmembers to read the script, and they had to read it in a room that had video cameras trained on them. It was a new experience.”

20th Century Fox is owned by News Corp.

Shock Till You Drop: Interview: The X-Files’ David Duchovny

Apr-16-2008
Interview: The X-Files‘ David Duchovny
Shock Till You Drop
Ryan Rotten

[Original article here]

ShockTillYouDrop.com spoke to David Duchovny on the set of Fox’s new X-Files sequel, opening in theaters on July 25th.

ShockTillYouDrop: So much about the plot is being kept in the dark, so what can you tell us about some of the themes of the film?
David Duchovny:
I think the reasoning behind being mum about what’s going on the film, at least for Chris, is to give the audience an experience of surprise which is so hard to do with trailers. Having said that, the themes are the same as the show [which were] belief and faith and the relationship between Mulder and Scully and how that develops over the past four or five years the show has been off the air. As if they’ve been living, as we’ve all been living – they’re not stuck in time. They’ve moved on in some fictional realm as we all have, yet their issues remain the same.

Shock: How has the X-Files changed now that the world has changed?
Duchovny:
Has the world completely changed? People say the world changes all of the time, yet human nature remains the same, good stories are good stories and people are going to see them. I don’t think people go to movies because of what’s going on in the world. They go usually to escape what’s going on in the world and that always remains the same. I think what changes is the size of our cell phones.

Shock: Why is now the right time for you to make this movie?
Duchovny:
I don’t know. I always felt, at any time, it would’ve been fine, whenever Chris was ready to come up with a script, when his burnout was over. As actors, our burnout was probably a little shorter than his – I think he carried a heavier load, producing, writing and directing. I know it took me about a year to feel whole after the show was over. After that point, it was always my intention and desire that the show would continue on in movie form. It was never my intention, when I left the television series, to sabotage the show in any way. Yes, we’ve done all we can on television, let’s take this into movies like we always said we would. I wouldn’t see any reason to do X-Files unless it [was carried into film]. It’s a serial show by its nature. The frame and the characters throw off an infinite number of stories and situations. It’s a classic, archetypal relationship between a believer and a non-believer with this unrequited love in the middle of it. That all works and it can work forever as long as your stories are good.

Shock: How excited were you to slip back into the Mulder persona after all of these years?
Duchovny:
I was very excited to do it, then as the date to do it approached I started to wonder if I needed to work more. To get back into that. So, there was a certain amount of fear, because maybe I haven’t changed… I think what happened was that my facility, my range or interests might’ve changed, so this character might’ve represented a narrower box than I’ve been working in the last four or five years since I left. I had to bring what I’ve learned the last four or five years into this box. Last night, they have internet access here, and somebody pulled up one of these homages to the show with this romantic song [cut to] all of these kisses between Gillian and I. That was actually really helpful to feel the show again, because it was this overview and very romantic. It was like, Oh, I can watch that, and it would help me get into work. Whoever put that together, I thank them.

Shock: In the past you’ve had input in some of the X-Files scripts, have you contributed anything here?
Duchovny:
Not in the initial conception or first writing of it, hardly at all because we signed off on the script right as the [WGA] strike happened. We had discussions about particular scenes and things we might try when we get there but it’s a tightly-plotted thriller. In essence, if you have a tightly-plotted thriller there’s not a lot of rewriting that should be done. The story drives forward. If you f**k around in the scenes you’re not going to drive the story forward. It’s not a form that tolerates improvisation and it was well enough put together when it was presented to me and Gillian, I thought there was nothing to add in that way.

Shock: This film reportedly delves into the realm of the supernatural, was it a relief to find that the story breaks away from the classic mythology involving aliens, etc.?
Duchovny:
I like the mythology stuff, I always liked it more when we were doing the show because it usually gave Mulder an emotional stake through his sister – he was personally involved in the episodes. That was a relief and more fun as an actor to approach that during the yearly grind of the show. I could understand it, chew it up a little bit rather than being just a Law & Order procedural. So, in a way, I think I had an opposite reaction, I wish this [movie] was more about me. [laughs] But in effect, it’s more about the show and about establishing the parameters of the show for those who don’t know it, for those who’ve forgotten and even for those who love it – they’ll get that part as well. If there is [another film] and I hope there is, I think we would get into a story where more of the mythology [comes in], because that’s the heart of the show.

Shock: If there is another X-Files film, how interested would you be in taking the helm of that?
Duchovny:
I’d be interested, but it’s not in my wheelhouse to direct a big action film like this. I would feel out of my element which is probably a good thing. I wouldn’t offer it to me. I might try to get it, I don’t know. No, I think I’d stay away from this. I might try to direct an action film, but I don’t think it’d be wise trying to direct myself in an action film or to screw around with this franchise. I feel like there are other opportunities to direct and I have other interests. If it was my only way into directing, then I might. It’d be fun and great but there are better people for it.

Shock: A lot of actors on hit television shows run the risk of, and fear, being typecast, but obviously you feel comfortable now playing Mulder.
Duchovny:
I gave up a while ago worrying about the whole phenomenon of typecasting once I realized it happens across the board. It doesn’t just happen in terms of television shows. Some comedy actors get trapped in there, some dramatic actors can’t do comedy. Even movie actors who have long careers have two or three roles that they get stopped for unless you’re Brando. So, I don’t worry about that. What overcomes that is my sense of love for the show and belief in the show’s legitimacy as an interesting movie franchise with a lot to offer – the thriller aspect, the horror aspect but also the intelligence. All of those things make it a very fertile area to move on in.

Shock: Why do you think people love your character?
Duchovny:
Isn’t that for you to answer? [laughs] Why I love Mulder, first and foremost, was always the truth and the case – yet he wasn’t so single-minded that it was kind of a drag, which that character could’ve been. I always liked that he was so narrow-minded in his pursuit. I think that’s attractive, I think people respect that in somebody and they yearn for a quest. He’s a guy on a quest and he always will be.

Shock: At this point in the game, has your working relationship with Gillian changed much from the series?
Duchovny:
Yeah, it’s probably different in that we’re not exhausted all of the time. We’re excited to come and do what we think is the heart of the relationship. So, we’ll do these scenes that are action-oriented with Billy Connelly but then we come back to scenes like the one we’re doing today – and this is where the heart is, where the movie is. Then we have to trust each other to hold each other up in these scenes and bring back whatever was there.

Shock: Is there still a sense of discovery in this journey or is it business as usual with you and Gillian back in the groove?
Duchovny:
I think there’s a real sense that we don’t want to cash in on the past. We all want to do something new, we don’t want to throw a piece of crap out there for people to go look at for nostalgia’s sake. I wonder and worry, how did [Mulder] change in the last five years? When I started, there was a certain boyishness to the guy I don’t feel I can play anymore physically. Like Mel Gibson’s Hamlet, yeah it was a good performance but the guy was twenty years too old. There are certain things energy-wise. How has he grown up? Remaining the same, how do you ease him into a different stage in his life? That’s a creative endeavor, certainly with Chris, directing a big movie like this which is different from anything he has done.

Shock: Has your dialogue with Chris changed much?
Duchovny:
Oh yeah, I have ways I like to work and he has ways he likes to work and they’re not always the same. With respect, and privately, we deal with it. That’s a matter of getting older, too, and of being a professional. It happens privately. And it’s not a big deal, it’s like telling a lover, That finger there, that wasn’t great. [laughs] I know a lot of people like it, but me personally, that’s not me, just so you know. I know how I like to work now, I know how I like the director’s hands on me.

Shock: Does this film strike a balance between the shout-outs to the series and new stuff for those who have never seen the show?
Duchovny:
I’m not a fan of the shout-outs, but in this they’re small, like Where’s Waldo? things. I think this movie is actually more accessible to the non-fan in terms of story and everything else. In terms of this water bottle maybe having the name of one of our producers on it, this movie probably has a ton of those things, but I’m not even paying attention. Sometimes I’ll see them and go, That’s stupid. [laughs] But there’s a lot of that going on and it’s fun for people.

Shock: There was some exhaustion on the fanbase’s behalf as the series entered its final seasons, do you think the film will lure them back?
Duchovny:
I don’t know. You know there were nine years of one-hours. I can’t think of another show that did that with the same cast, although I wasn’t in most of the ninth year. You look at any drama, any long-running drama, and they don’t run that long normally. So, the exhaustion is mutual. [laughs] But I would think in the good will of trying to tell new stories you ultimately reach further in all directions. Probably by the seventh or eight years, the writers were forced to reach and I think there are fans who sit on that moment and wait for that sign of creative bankruptcy which has to come, naturally. A show like this is idea-driven, it’s not like, Oh, we’ve got good jokes, you’ll watch. It’s not like a sitcom that can run twelve years. If they were exhausted, and they fell in love with the show for the characters and the premise, for the execution and the writing, then that’s what we’re back to. This is more of a story we would have told in season three or four.

Shock: How scary does this movie get? When those early seasons you refer to went for scary, they were scary…
Duchovny:
It gets scary. It’s pretty dark, there’s some nasty stuff going on. In a way you could do more on TV. Some of those TV shows were getting close to an R, but I know the mission is to make a PG-13 film. It’s more of the ideas behind it. What is Saw, rated R?

Shock: Yeah.
Duchovny:
That should be X. This movie has some danger in there. Twisted, weird – there’s no torture. To me Saw doesn’t have a point, it’s some guy teaching people a lesson, through torture. X-Files was never about the nasty stuff, but hopefully there was a story with a purpose. We’ll torture for a reason, like the American government. [laughs]

Shock: I’m just curious if the film leans into my favorite episode which was Home.
Duchovny:
There’s some of that, but I don’t know how much of that you’ll see, but it’s in the story. You’ll come away with, Wow, that’s what you were doing? Home is probably the most controversial show we ever made and it was pulled out of rotation and yet it’s one of maybe four or five shows somebody always brings up. Obviously, people have enjoyed that part of the show also.

Shock: There’s always been a place for humor with Mulder’s dry wit. Does the new film feature any laughs?
Duchovny:
There’s a place for it, I was always looking for a place in the TV show and it’s an essential part of the character so I certainly always look for those moments. We’ve done them here, but whether or not they stay in the film, it’s always a matter of juggling the tone. In the show, it was, Is Mulder going to deflate the danger of the scene? In my opinion, it never did, but Chris and the writers and producers have different ideas, so I don’t know. I like to have some funny stuff in there.

Shock: When old episodes of the show come on, do you watch them or flee?
Duchovny:
I don’t flee. I don’t seek them out. I’m not an appointment television watcher. I’m a child of the ’70s television watcher which is, I sit down in front of it and if something is on I’ll watch it, so I’m sometimes open to watching an X-Files if I’m flipping around. I don’t TiVo, I’m not silly that way. If something comes on, if I’m in bed with [wife] Téa, and we’re just going to sleep watching ten minutes of TV we’ll watch a bit.

Shock: Do you know of any major DVD extras that are planned for this film’s release?
Duchovny:
Yes, a lot because I think there’s a lot of extra gore. We’re not just shooting a PG-13 version.

Shock Till You Drop: A Set Visit to the X-Files Sequel!

Apr-16-2008
A Set Visit to the X-Files Sequel!
Shock Till You Drop
Ryan Rotten

[Original article here]

It began with a werewolf. I’m speaking about my interest, that is, in 20th Century Fox’s brand spankin’ new X-Files feature film. But for the sake of explanation and full disclosure, allow me to back up and come clean about a few things. As a fan once living in New York City, I attended one of the first X-Files fan conventions at the Javits Center. First in line. Opening day. Stamp “Chick Magnet” on me now. Yes, I had an appreciation of the show and, like so many out there, my fascination with the quest for truth – spearheaded by Fox Mulder and Dana Scully – checked out the back door when the ninth season rolled around and T-1000 joined the FBI with Annabeth Gish. Six years later, series creator Chris Carter, longtime contributor Frank Spotnitz and company are picking up the pieces with this enigmatic new venture.

And it may or may not have anything to do with a hirsute beast.

You see, a certain “spy photo” leaked online a few weeks prior to my receiving an invite to visit the Vancouver location of the film. Said snapshot revealed a professional exchange between Carter and a lycanthrope (some dude in a suit) on set. Was it a ruse? Something to throw us journos off the beaten path from the secrecy-enshrouded plot? Whatever the case, it was enough to stir long dormant pangs of excitement in this X-Files fan. After all, what X-phile worth his or her salt wouldn’t be excited over the prospect of a creature feature recalling the days of the Flukeman?

I ride in a production van to the Playland Amusement Park in Vancouver, Canada with all of this in mind. – hoping to perhaps eye a swatch of fur, a yellowed claw, anything to confirm, or even deny, the “werewolf” talk.

This latest X-Files marks a return home for Carter and his crew. When the series began in ’93 lensing took place in Vancouver before the production ultimately moved to Los Angeles. Familiar faces of X-Files‘ past populate the crew providing the director with a comfortable insulation. John Bartley, director of photography on seasons one through three, is working second unit alongside first assistant director and ex-Lone Gunman Tom Braidwood. Meanwhile Bill Roe, from the Los Angeles days, resumes his duties as d.p. on first unit. Then, of course, there’s Duchovny and Anderson as Mulder and Scully, respectively. They’re joined this time by newcomers Amanda Peet (Identity), Billy Connelly (Fido) and Xzibit, in a slice of arguably inspired casting.

The entrance to Playland directs one past a roller coaster – the same one used by James Wong (another X-Files alum) for the opening of Final Destination 3. But where I’m heading is to the ice rink, that’s where the crew is working today. Inside it appears the converted rink has been bisected, most of the action is predominantly occurring around a faux house facade garnished with the foliage. “This would be Mulder’s house,” co-writer and producer Frank Spotnitz informs us, greeting ShockTillYouDrop.com by the porch. He’s enjoying the warmer environs here after shooting for three weeks in sub-zero temperatures north of Whistler in Pemberton. “It matches the real house [located in Fort Langley] which is supposed to be somewhere around the Washington D.C. area in the movie.” For Spotnitz, the realization of another X-Files case, “has been a dream. I didn’t think it was going to happen – after six years, negotiations, working on the story.”

His cynicism is understandable and he estimates his commitment to a sequel was sealed in 2002 or ’03. Where things get rocky is in the ensuing years and, as Spotnitz suggests, best explained by Carter. Luckily for us, we find the director by craft service, an enormous black poodle by his side.

The years have been kind to Carter. Same ol’ friendly eyes. Defined chin. White hair a stark contrast to the puffy black winter coat he hugs tight (not to mention his dog). He’s a blue jeans kinda guy. “Fox had come to Frank Spotnitz and me and asked us to do the movie about a year after the TV series had wrapped,” he clarifies. “We said yes and had worked out a story, pitched it to them, they said yes. We went into negotiations and those, shall we say, got protracted. All of a sudden there was this other issue and that took a couple of years to get resolved.”

In the interim, Carter and Spotnitz tabled sequel notes they scribbled together and later revisited them with slightly more mature eyes. “We feel there is a lot to be proud of with the X-Files and we wanted to move forward knowing we had a real story to tell and a reason to tell it,” Spotnitz says. “I think we have that. I already think this is going to be something we’re all proud of and feel good about.”

“I was surprised by how alive they still were in our imaginations,”he adds referring to protagonists Mulder and Scully. “We arrived at what they would be doing at this point in their lives and what happened to them the last six years. For eight years I wrote and produced this show, I spent many hours thinking about Scully and Mulder so in a sense they’re very real to me.”

The sequel, as Spotnitz said, picks up six years after the show’s conclusion. Real time has elapsed which has brought about change in the lives of Mulder and Scully. What those changes are, we’re never told save for the fact that the two are drawn back into the world of X-Files by one case in particular. Carter likens the film’s air of secrecy to a Christmas present. It’s something we can shake. Something we can hypothesis about but when all is said and done, he’d prefer to have all of the details blown wide open when the sequel arrives in theaters on July 25th.

Mystery permeates every aspect of the set. Call sheets and script sides are accounted for and whisked out of public view (especially today). Absolutely no cameras are allowed. A tour of Mulder’s house gives us everything and nothing. Spotnitz guides me up the porch and through the front door into a warm, earth tone-driven living room. Issues of Scientific American are neatly scattered about. Framed black and white photographs are hung on the wall. Mulder’s digs are nice…and a step up from the apartment we’re accustomed to seeing him in. The cleanliness is befitting of a woman, however.

“You’ll notice the brown railing,” Spotnitz points out. “There was one just like that in his apartment.” The reference is a bit over my head but those fans with the photographic memories will be pleased to hear there is plenty of continuity they’ll appreciate. Take the gold fish for instance. “The tank is bigger than the one in the show.” Well, sure, it only seems right they get a big pad if Mulder is moving up. Oh, and look at that, there’s the scuba diver at the bottom of the tank.

“Mulder’s been living here since 2002,” Spotnitz adds. “Come on in here…”

I follow, awash with nostalgia the minute I enter the next room: The office. A clutter of piled-up newspapers, clippings and monstrous sketches. Removed is that aforementioned tidiness. I actually miss it. But here…here is where the eye candy comes into play. Gaze closer at one of the headlines screaming from a nearby paper and you’ll find FBI ARRESTS MODERN DAY FRANKENSTEIN DOCTOR. The ceiling above has been skewered by pencils which hang like stalactites. Sunflower seeds peek out from under the mess on Mulder’s desk where a photo of his sister rests.

Then there’s the poster.

You know the one. Series staple. Black and white, sorta fuzzy image of a UFO with big bold white letters proclaiming I WANT TO BELIEVE. Yeah, that one. Rippling with wear, but present nonetheless. Still signifying all that is “Mulder” and hung with care as a teen would hang a rock idol by his bed. “I’m not sure if it’s one of the L.A. or Vancouver posters, it is an original though,” Spotnitz notes.

So, what is Mulder and Scully up against this time…an alien menace, more government spooks, Scully’s offspring back for revenge like the Davies baby? Try an X-file that has never been covered before. Hard to believe, I know. “I have to say it was challenging after 202 hours to find something that wasn’t done,” admits Spotnitz. “That isn’t to say there are not elements – there will always be [familiar] elements – but the fundamental idea is different from anything we had done in the show. What we also wanted was an X-file, however fractured, that could serve as a mirror to Mulder and Scully – we were looking for a case that could expose things about them.”

Carter adds: “I think the first three seasons really helped lay the foundation for the rest of the show. If you look at those first three, you’ll see connections to what you’re going to see in the movie. We’re trying to scare the pants off of you. It’s not a mythology episode but it owes to the character’s lives, what they’ve been through, the relationship and the arc of the show.”

As a result, this level of intimacy with the characters means scaling back on locations and not going as global as the first film did. “[The story] comes from the heart and who these characters are,” Spotnitz reinforces. “That is part of why it’s such a pleasure to do, we were freed of the complications and the machinery of the plot which had gotten quite complicated over nine years. We didn’t really have to service a lot of that, we could just tell a really good scary, stand-alone story and go deeper into the characters of Mulder and Scully and their relationship than you could in a weekly series. Mulder and Scully bare a lot of scars from their experiences and you can’t do a movie like this without recognizing that .”

I’m allowed to sit in on a scene featuring Duchovny and Anderson. Naturally, Fox has me bound from talking about specifics. It’s a key moment and the actors are chewing it up, especially Duchovny who hasn’t lost his dry edge after all of these years. Minutes earlier, Carter recalled the first table reading of the script. “I felt a wistful moment, something came over me. It was like no time had passed and a lot of time had passed. Our lives had moved on and we’ve all come back together, it felt like family again, it felt right.”

As my day on set wears on, my search for lycanthropic evidence becomes a joke. Carter merely grins with a, “I can’t say anything.” when asked about it. I mean, seriously – who better to ask than the man standing less than five feet away from the creature in the photo? But then I have a slight breakthrough.

On the far end of the ice rink-cum-soundstage, an on-set photographer is snapping away at actors dressed like priest. One by one they file in, stand before a burgundy curtain. Click. Another priest moves in. Click. And another. Click.

Curious, I saunter over and ask what the pics are for. The photographer tells me they’ll be used as set dressing for a sequence set in a rectory. She and I carry a decent conversation about the production, working in Vancouver, past shows she’s been on, then, none too smooth, I drop the question: “So, what were those werewolf pictures all about anyway?” (Think Griffin Dunne’s delivery – “Excuse me, what’s that star on the wall for?” – in An American Werewolf in London. It’s that abrupt.) Unnamed photographer smirks and doesn’t miss a beat.

“What are they saying on the internet?” she asks me back.
“People think it’s a hoax.”
“Oh?”
“You know, to throw off us nerds from trying to ruin Chris’ Christmas surprise.”
“Interesting.”

She looks away. “I was there that day,” she whispers. “I took the picture.”
“And?
“I’m not saying,” she smiles as another priest poser steps up to his mark.

Sheesh. The truth is out here, but I’ll be damned if I can find it. Time may have passed, but it seems things never change. Good luck, Mulder.

Shock Till You Drop: Interview: The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson

Apr-16-2008
Interview: The X-Files‘ Gillian Anderson
Shock Till You Drop
Ryan Rotten

[Original article here]

ShockTillYouDrop.com spoke to Gillian Anderson on the set of Fox’s new X-Files sequel, opening in theaters on July 25th.

ShockTillYouDrop.com: Why return to the X-Files after all of this time?
Gillian Anderson:
I think that I’ve always made it pretty clear, no matter what has been rumored in the press, that were we to come together, or were somebody to get it together to do a film, that I would be happy, willing and hopefully able to participate. There were a few times there where it looked like it might not happen, but there are many times when I, when people were saying it was going to happen, didn’t believe it was going to happen. I was always on board, no matter else what I was doing at my time in my life.

Shock: You’ve done so much in your career and life in the interim, since the series ended, what’s it like to come back? Is it familiar or does it seem strange?
Anderson:
I wasn’t cocky, but I was really confident that it was going to be easy on the first day. I wasn’t afraid at all. I’m usually terrified for the first couple of days on something and it sucked. It was horrible. I had a really hard first couple of days and a I think a part of that was that I’ve spent such a long time trying to do something that didn’t remotely resemble Scully, I’ve been pushing it away for such a long time that when I was inviting it back, my brain was going, No! This isn’t supposed to be happening! And we started on the worst possible scene that we could have started with. It was a confrontation scene, so it wasn’t even normal, flatline Scully. [laughs] No, I don’t mean flatline. I didn’t mean that. I didn’t even have a chance to be normal Scully before I was upset Scully.

Shock: Do you look at her different six years later?
Anderson:
I think what’s important is that she has not changed a lot. It’s finding who she is again. I think it’s important to show someone who’s recognizable to the audience who is used to that. But there’s obviously a maturity that has taken place naturally. To hold that and to use that fact to inform how she might be in this present stage.

Shock: Is there anything in this film that tells us where she has been the last five or six years?
Anderson:
Not really, I think it’s a given that…there’s something said here about the choices that she’s made which covers that.

Shock: What was behind your willingness to take the role again, did you not want to be the one who said ‘no’?
Anderson:
No, it was a formidable experience for all of us. Even at the times when I was very outspoken about the challenges of it, it was still something I wouldn’t have changed at the time. I was always aware that this was something unique and valuable and precious. Something that doesn’t happen all of the time. We were incredibly lucky and despite my frustration at the exhaustion, I’ve always been grateful on some level. The idea of us all coming back together again has always been exciting.

Shock: You just didn’t want to be defined as Scully…
Anderson:
Sometimes I still am. When producers or whatever see my work, they go, Oh, she can act! There’s nothing much I can do about that, but I try to continue to challenge myself and challenge people who want to put me in a box…

Shock: Can X-Files still comment on the times we live in?
Anderson:
I think if one is paying attention they’ll see that the issues addressed are bigger than current events. I guess there’s some current stuff, but it’s the bigger picture in certain respects of human beings and…I’m going to dig myself in a hole here. [laughs]

Shock: Do you think the Mulder and Scully relationship here outweighs the scary plot that’s being promised?
Anderson:
I think what is remarkable – and still find it remarkable today after working with other actors – just what kind of energy there is. It just happens, it’s weird. It’s cool now once I’ve seen things in the past and wondered, Where the f**k did that come from? It’s still there and of course it’s going to be appealing to people. And I now see what the appeal is. In the old days, I was like, Yeah, so what? We get along? Yeah, there’s chemistry. I was just using that word. Now I see there really was, and there still is and I think it will always be there.

Shock: What’s that like with David now that you’re not with each other 16 hours a day on a series?
Anderson:
It’s great, but it was great then, too. This is like a sibling relationship and I never had siblings. I had brothers and sisters that started when I was 13, so I was out of the house and didn’t have that experience. There was always this love/hate – hate is too big of a word – but there was always something. It was a natural relationship over a period of time. Now we’ve grown up and we’re older, we’re more appreciative of the relationship period and the unique experience we had together and have an opportunity to continue that and foster it. We’ve always loved each other and we’re always going to be a battle sometimes.

Shock: Scully started as a skeptic, then a believer – are you going back to that skeptic/believer dynamic or is there no going back to that?
Anderson:
I think we have to. That’s part of one of the big premises of the film, of the relationship and what makes it work is this constant fight to be right in some way. I think no matter what film or what episode, you have to maintain an element of that. This isn’t a love story, [but] it can be. That can’t be in the forefront. What’s in the forefront is these two people’s minds and their passions. Naturally, they’re going to swing in the direction that they are built for and that’s going to cause tension between them.

Shock: How do you see X-Files now in the context of your diverse body of work?
Anderson:
It has never really been my cup of tea. I’m not really a television watcher, I don’t think I would have watched the show [were I not in it]. I see what it is and I can appreciate its appeal to people, I can justify it in the context of my life.

Shock: Are you more comfortable with the fact that this role is going to be with you for the rest of your life?
Anderson:
I feel very fortunate. I think my desire to distance myself stemmed from maturity. I started this when I was 24, I told them I was 27 to get hired. Somebody sent me an interview from some cheesy TV station and I was so sure of myself and the way I was talking… I think I had to surround myself with so many survival mechanisms in order to – just as a 24-year-old to be thrown into that so early… People would say in interviews, what a whirlwind life you’ve had and I didn’t even have enough of a perspective to stand back and say, Yeah, man… In a sense, it was to a detriment because I just assumed I should be able to deal with stuff. When it ended, there was part of me that didn’t want to see a set. It just got really intense. I didn’t do that much during our hiatuses. I didn’t go after that between exhaustion and being a mom – I just wanted to do something different for f**k’s sake. I needed that, I really needed that. But I’ve found a place again of appropriate perspective and great appreciation and gratitude for being invited into such an extraordinary experience.

Shock: How is the story intertwined by the character relationships that producer Frank Spotnitz says plays a big part in this film?
Anderson:
I should think they’ve done a really good job of touching on all of the elements that are important for it to make sense to people and to stand-alone. I think they’ve done a really good job in that respect and there’s enough of a balance between our determinations about the things that are currently working on mixed with the dilemmas that we find ourselves in as the two characters, mixed the history, mixed with everything… I think they’ve done a great job.

Shock: How is Scully different from when we last saw her in the series finale?
Anderson:
I think she’s more relaxed and she’s made some choices in her life that have allowed her to do what she most wants to do, and that has mellowed her a bit. She hasn’t lost any of her determination and passion about things by any stretch. How she is in this film follows perfectly with where we last saw her and who she has always been.