This Is Who We Are
Dean Haglund and Mark Snow come to TIWWA
[Original article here]
Dean Haglund needs no introduction and in the time honoured tradition of then going on to give one that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Dean (born July 29, 1965) is a Canadian actor known for the role of Richard “Ringo” Langly, one of the Lone Gunmen on The X-Files. Haglund is also a stand-up comedian, specializing in improvisational comedy (formerly with Vancouver TheatreSports League.) Dean also portrayed Langly in the spin-off The Lone Gunmen, which aired thirteen episodes in 2001. As La La Land Records and Mark Snow have released a superb double-disc release featuring Mark’s compositions from the show I wanted to use the opportunity to celebrate a show I recall with great fondness. My gratitude, of course, to Dean for giving of his time so freely. As he would no doubt say himself, enjoy the Dean-ness.
TIWWA: If we could begin by taking you back to the time when your involvement with Ten Thirteen Productions began. Do you think that people are more or less paranoid than they were in the 1990s when the “The X-Files” was at its peak? Are there more reasons to worry now than back then?
DEAN HAGLUND: I think that we are more “informed” now than before, because of the internet providing more “information” than it did back then, but I put that in quotes because in this info tsunami we live in, any idea can be backed up by a web site that spouts exactly the same idea, regardless of how unfounded the idea to be. So therefore, the paranoid idea will have a echo back which will build it into a movement. I think of the ‘birther’s movement’ as such an example. The other side of the coin is that also individuals who know the truth can get that truth out there to a larger audience faster than before. So as more whistleblowers come forward, the worry is that one’s filter has to be razor sharp to know what to follow and what is useless.
TIWWA: When you were cast in “EBE”, along with your fellow gunmen, I believe it was the positive reaction of the fans that secured the characters recurring roles. Whilst the fans could evidently see the potential of the characters I wondered if the production team, or yourselves, realised at the time that something magical had been created in that episode? At what point did you realise (or get told) that your role of Langly would be a recurring one?
DH: We never really realized it till maybe Season 4 or 5 where we got to do “Unusual Suspects.” After Deep Throat and X were both killed off it seemed that none of the recurring characters could boast that we were sticking around. Chris Carter always kept you guessing.
TIWWA: I was interested to learn that you disliked how the “The X-Files” subsequently developed from a cult show to something more mainstream can you explain why that is?
DH: It is not that I disliked it, so much as the pressure from executives increased as it gathered mainstream momentum. That caused the writers to battle with them instead of focussing on the stories and the later seasons seemed to be a testament that. The writers and producers split focus at that point, and it became tougher on everyone involved. I understand that is typical to all series and why some succeed is that there is a person who takes the brunt of that and gives space to the rest of the creative team.
TIWWA: Due to the success of your characters within that show you were given your own show back in June 2001. At the time the show was being developed did you have any trepidation at all about taking the characters out of their comfort zone and into new territory? Did you have any input into how the show was being developed and the direction it would take?
DH: No, we really didn’t have input on the show or its development, which is probably for the best. It is hard to have the proper perspective when you are acting day to day on a series. I was not worried at all of taking the characters out of their comfort zone because I think that we had already made incredible backstories for ourselves that it was kind of relief to finally learn what else these guys did other than help Mulder all the time.
TIWWA: When The Lone Gunmen essentially became a quartet with the introduction of Jimmy Bond I am aware that Stephen Snedden was concerned about how this would effect the established dynamic of the team. What was the feeling amongst the three of you about the addition of a new character and how do you view Stephen and Zuleikha’s contributions to the show in retrospect?
DH: I loved them coming into the show. Bond provided the way the audience could relate to the our geek talk, and Yves’ character gave us the international scope so that we didn’t seem like we three were only affecting local politics and community actions.
TIWWA: A number of “The X-Files” cast had the opportunity to pen episodes on that show that allowed them to showcase their characters in a personally pleasing way. Was this something you would have liked to have had the opportunity to do during the run of “The Lone Gunmen” and what story would you have liked to have told with regards to Richard Langly?
DH: Had the show gone on to the second season there was a chance for us to add more to the show. Tom Braidwood was poised to direct an episode and I was talking to Pam Anderson to appear as herself in the show where she comes to Gunmen to help hide her. She was really into the idea.
TIWWA: One particularly well received episode of “The Lone Gunmen” was “Like Water for Octane” in which a car was created that was powered by water, the conspiracy theory being that the oil companies/governments had involvement. Did you like the premise of this episode and if one day a commercially available water powered car was invented, how do you think our world would change in terms of impact and how do you think the oil companies would react?
DH: I think of it in the same terms as Tesla’s “free energy”. At the time , the word ‘free’ worried Edison and the investors so they went out of the way to suppress the technology. It turns out that the corporate powers just had to learn how to meter and charge money for this service, and that free energy is the basis for our cell phone service. So it is just a matter of learning how to charge for water and we will have water powered cars. And just keep an eye next few years as the privatization of our water supply continues as they demonize the civil infrastructure currently in place. See my up coming documentary “the Truth is Out There” for more about that.
TIWWA: As the show continued to air I know a great many of us felt that it wasn’t receiving the support it needed from 20th Century Fox. Were you aware of how the show was being received by the studio and would you agree with the fans that their support wasn’t adequate? I know Stephen explained that he felt they simply didn’t understand the show, would you agree with this?
DH: At that point, the tension between the executives and Ten Thirteen was pretty high so no one was doing any favors for each other. So whether they understood it or not didn’t really matter as to what filtered down to the day the day operations with other departments in the Fox building.
TIWWA: At what point did you learn that the show was to be cancelled and how was this news received by the cast and crew?
DH: I heard it from my lawyer at a Deli, so I was around the rest of the gang when I found out. By the time I saw everyone again, so much time had passed, that we never really discussed it again. In fact, the whole story is told in my comic book “Why the Lone Gunmen was Cancelled” which is available on my website – true story written and DRAWN by me.
TIWWA: Given the blow of having the show cancelled I would imagine the news that the Lone Gunmen were to be killed was another blow? I know Zuleikha and Stephen voiced criticism at the time of this decision I wondered how Tom, Bruce and yourself reacted to this news? A significant portion of fans still feel that this was a mistake, despite the decision not being something that was taken lightly, would you agree with them?
DH: No, I think that is was a great thing to do. It was better to go out in a blaze of glory that to us just help Mulder on last time and then walk off into the sunset with a hobo bag on a stick over our shoulders. Plus the show was lacking some emotional gravity at times, and this was an opportunity to give the fans a resonate episode to remember why you stuck with it for nine seasons.
TIWWA: I’m hoping that there is some way you gentlemen can make an appearance in the third X-Files film if there is to be one as it wouldn’t be the same without you. On that note I am sure you are aware that the reception to the second film was mixed and I wondered if you had seen it and what your own feelings on it were?
DH: I think that there is ALWAYS a way for us to appear in another film. As for the second film, I tend to like a little more political intrigue in my story telling and I think that at the height of the Bush regime not to involve some of that evil skull drudgery into a story was unfortunate, but I understand the limitations that Chris and Frank were working under so I can’t fault them too much.
TIWWA: I know you have written the comic, “Why The Lone Gunmen Were Cancelled” and have gone on to express your desire to revisit the characters in other media. With Frank Spotnitz and Gabe Rotter writing another series of the X-Files comic for Wildstorm is this something you would like to pursueand are you still working on “Back from the Dead”?
DH: Absolutely. I would love to add to that, and Back from the Dead is very much alive. But that is all I can say at the moment.
TIWWA: You have a very popular podcast and continue to be active in the industry and I wondered if you could share with our readers the best way to keep abreast of your news and what to look out for in the future?
DH: The ChillPak hollywood hour is definitely the best way to hear what is going on with our production company and of course Facebook. But I recently re-did the web site and I’m trying to congeal all of it into one seamless platform of Dean-ness, but I am only one man and all my programming skills are from the 90’s. So if anyone has got any time and mad skills out there let me know.
TIWWA: May I express my gratitude for taking the time to talk to us and may we wish you all the very best for the future.
DH: Pleasure is mine.