Posts Tagged ‘annabeth gish’

Zap2it: ‘X-Files’ Cast and Crew Say Bittersweet Goodbye

May-16-2002
Zap2it
‘X-Files’ Cast and Crew Say Bittersweet Goodbye
Rick Porter

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) – Gillian Anderson says it won’t hit her for a couple of months.

She’ll take some time off after “The X-Files” ends its season, as she’s done for the past nine years. Then, as TV production starts up again toward the end of the summer, “my body will want to start seeing this other person again. It’s like an old friend.”

Only then, she says, will she likely realize in full that “The X-Files” isn’t coming back to FOX. The conspiracy-laden, extraterrestrials-among-us drama, which grew from cult hit to mainstream success without ever really — pardon the pun — alienating its loyalists, ends its run on Sunday (May 19) with a two-hour finale that promises to answer a lot of the questions it’s posed about aliens and coverups and just what the heck the government is hiding.

“It really is an example of a mixed blessing,” Anderson said as she walked down the alien-green (not red) carpet at the series wrap party a few weeks ago. “I’m really looking forward to the future, and I’m excited about getting out into the world again. On the other hand, I don’t think I really get for one second that it’s over.”

Still, Anderson, series creator Chris Carter and other cast and crew members agree that now is the right time to wrap up the series. Ratings have dipped since David Duchovny left the cast for good this season, and the show faced stiffer competition in NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and ABC’s “Alias.”

“It’s good to go out while we’re still smelling good,” says Kim Manners, a co-executive producer who also directed more than 50 of the show’s 200 episodes. “I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”

Few involved with the show had any idea of how big the show become when it premiered on a Friday night in September 1993. Executive producer Frank Spotnitz joined “The X-Files” in its second season, and he says at the time, few people he know had heard of the show.

“It was like a pleasant dream, where every year we got bigger and bigger,” Spotnitz says. “But we never expected the phenomenon it would become.”

Indeed, the show made a star out of the previously unknown Anderson (whose biggest previous role was a guest shot on FOX’s “Class of ’96” ) and cult figures out of recurring characters like the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and the Lone Gunmen (Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood).

“We didn’t know each other when we got asked to [play the characters],” says Braidwood, who played Gunman Melvin Frohike after starting out as an assistant director on the show. “So we met, and we did the scene. Then we got a call the next year and they said we’d like you to come back and do another gig — it was such a surprise.”

Cast and crew members had a tough time picking out favorite episodes, although more than one, including Mitch Pileggi (FBI Assistant Director Skinner), cited the controversial 1996 episode “Home.”

Pileggi also counts season 1’s “Ice” and season 3’s “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” for which guest star Peter Boyle won an Emmy. “I’m not in any of them,” Pileggi says, laughing. “I don’t know what that says.”

Sunday’s finale is titled “The Truth,” and it features the return of Duchovny’s Fox Mulder, who faces a murder charge at a military tribunal. Carter promises that much of the series’ complicated mythology will be wrapped up. But as the show has done throughout its existence, it will probably some things open to interpretation.

“There’s so much going on” in the episode, says Annabeth Gish, who plays Agent Monica Reyes. “A lot of people return. Things are answered and tied up, but always leaving more.”

Orbit Magazine: The End is Out There

May-??-2002
Orbit Magazine
The End is Out There
Greg Archer

Chris Carter, the brainiac behind The X-Files, TV’s most addictive, head-scratching sci-fi hit, is ushered into the Zanuck Building on the 20TH Century Fox lot with stars Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish not far behind. Sniff the air and you can smell prestige, power- pressure. The buzz is out there-literally. What’s the 411 on David Duchovny’s TV persona, Mulder- really? Who’s the father of Scully’s baby- really? And why, exactly, is this award winning cult show, which spawned gaggles of Internet-surfing chat room chatties (X-philes), fading to black? Carter, clad in comfy tan pants and a handsome shirt sprinkled in cinnamon tones seems ready to fess up: “I didn’t want it to be the sort of thing where people were going to write what The X-Files used to be. [That] it’s past its time or running on some past glory.”

That glory began in September, 1993. The Fox drama about two FBI agents investigating unexplained cases involving the paranormal was a hip amalgam of Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Night Stalker. In one corner was agent Mulder, a brooding guy trying to shake off the childhood trauma of his sister’s alien abduction. In the other corner was agent Scully, a doctor and realist who would no more believe in aliens than be caught dead without her skepticism. (How’s that baby doing, Dana?). In between, there was Skinner, the boss who didn’t mind going out on a limb. Viewers worldwide quickly soaked up the show and soon there was www.thexfiles.com.

Critically, it hit high notes, garnering 61 Emmy nods, winning for Outstanding Lead Actress (Anderson), Outstanding Writing, Art Direction, Makeup, and more. The show also nabbed the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting and several Golden Globes-Best Dramatic Series, Actor (Duchovny) and Actress.

At its best, The X-Files pushed the envelope. It was cutting edge. It provoked thought. It was often downright scary-those aliens, those hair-raising conspiracies, that mystifying Cigarette Smoking Man. We’ve seen everything from clever cloning and time shifting to primordial beasts and psychic phenomena. And the comedic episodes weren’t bad either.

Fortunately, diehard fans embraced the dramatic shift the show experienced over the last few years, which included The Lone Gunmen spinoff, Mulder’s character being abducted and the addition of Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish as agents John Doggett and Monica Reyes. The spinoff fell flat, but in a surprise twist, which only a show like The X-Files seems experienced enough to pull off, the Patrick-Gish addition paid off.

But how does the gang feel about calling it quits?

“I felt as if I’ve just begun to hit my stride as Monica Reyes and have grown to have a deep affection for the cast and the crew, so it’s sad,” Gish admits. “Although, there’s an elegance to the way they’re dropping the curtain… and there’s a little more chemistry between Doggett and Reyes – an event, shall we call it. I think it’s apparent that Reyes is deeply in love with Doggett. Unrequited love seems to be the theme that The X-Files thrives on.”

Patrick, who’s still dusting off Terminator 2’s “Liquid Man” mystique, is disappointed that his first TV gig is ending but respects Carter’s decision to go out on top.

“They wrote a great character and it’s been fun playing a guy that loves America, loves his job, believes in doing the right thing,” Patrick says. “[Doggett] has a lot of codes that he lives by and I think it’s a throwback character. I believe in a lot of things that Doggett believes in, I tell you that.”

But for Anderson, knowing the end is coming doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to accept.

“It feels very obscure to me, very surreal,” Anderson says. “It’s hitting me. [But] I think it’s great [that David is coming back]. I didn’t realize how important that would be. I really didn’t realize how much I was missing him and how integral he was to the story.”

So, what can fans expect from Carter’s May finale, which Duchovny appears in?

“We’ve gone so far from where we’ve began, so now … I’m going back to where we began,” Carter reveals. “There’s this mythology that people thought was very convoluted and very confusing and it actually all does make perfect sense. And I think that’ll be the thing that makes it [the finale] very satisfying. There’s a beautiful structure to it.”

And Scully’s baby?

“I think everybody knows now who the father is,” Carter adds. “We’ve kind of said that it was Mulder’s, but still, she was barren. So how does a barren woman give birth to a child? I think that it’s pretty clear now that there was some hanky panky.”

Fortunately, the end, as it were, isn’t really the end. Fans can expect another X-Files flick, the plot of which won’t depend on the finale.

“We’re always going to be true to the characters,” says Carter. “We really see the movies as taking the best part of the series, which is the Mulder/Scully relationship and The X-Files franchise, and doing stand alone movies that are their own thing – good scary stories the way we’ve been telling them now for nine years.”

But does Carter really believe in aliens?

“Me? No,” he laughs. “But if there are aliens out there, they owe me a visit after all that I’ve done for them in the last nine years.”

[Unknown]: Interview with the Stars: X-Files: Countdown To The Truth

May-??-2002
[Unknown]
Interview with the Stars
X-Files: Countdown To The Truth
Leslie Miller

[typed by Nancy]

HOLLYWOOD – The countdown to the truth is on. Just two more episodes of “The X-Files” are left. The popular sci-fi series which has become a worldwide phenomenon is finally concluding after almost a decade. The stars of the show have mixed emotions. Q13’s Leslie Miller sat down with the cast in Hollywood recently to see what they would reveal about the series finale.

Gillian Anderson/Agent Dana Scully: “It’s an important time for all of us to kind of sit and take in the full aspect of what we’ve just participated in.”

After nine successful seasons, the sci-fi show that became a cult hit and made “paranormal” a household word, is finally drawing to a close. The x-files will wrap up with a two hour series finale. The return of David Duchovny as Agent Fox Mulder.

They say the truth is out there, but so far there are many unanswered questions surrounding the final episode of the X-Files, cast members are keeping pretty tight lipped about the ending, but they do say it promises to deliver.

Gillian Anderson/Agent Dana Scully: “There’s a lot of stuff that gets wrapped up, you know, a lot of answers that get tied together and some interesting Mulder and Scully stuff for the history books, and I think that’s about all I can say.”

Robert Patrick/Agent John Doggett: “It’s kind of neat to be sitting in the position where I have the secret and I can’t reveal it, or I can or I won’t.”

But the stars of the show are revealing how they would like to see the series conclude.

Robert Patrick/Agent John Doggett: “I kind of had this vision of Doggett gets on a Harley and he throw Reyes on the back and they drive off into the desert and the suns sinking that’d be kinda cool..”

Annabeth Gish/Agent Monica Reyes: “I personally would like to see some more love relationships and hot stuff between Doggett and Reyes, but it doesn’t look there’s going to be much time for that.”

Show creator Chris Carter has taken viewers on a thrilling journey into the world of aliens and conspiracy theories with more than 200 episodes of the X-Files.

Chris Carter/Show Creator: “The show has been very murky and vague by design and now it’s chance to sort of tie up a lot of those threads and maybe shine some light through the murkiness and show people what it’s all been for.”

But if the saying holds true that all good things must come to an end. Carter says that time is now.

Chris Carter/Show Creator: “I think it did run its course I think that this is a good time to end.”

The stars of the show agree.

Robert Patrick/Agent John Doggett: “I feel like I’ve had mission accomplished you know I came in and we got two more years out of the show and we’re moving on.”

Gillian Anderson/Agent Dana Scully: “It’s definitely had its time in history and its time for it to conclude and be put to rest.”

X-Files fans don’t despair. Creator Chris Carter says while the TV show has concluded, the *X-Files movies* will continue. He also told us he’s working on another television series, but this one won’t deal with the paranormal.

The X-Files Magazine: Gish Fulfillment

Feb-??-2002
The X-Files Magazine [US]
Gish Fulfillment
Ian Spelling

[typed by MarieEve]

After an impressive debut as special Agent Monica Reyes in Season Eight, Annabeth Gish has continued to bring a fresh feel to The X-Files. The actress chats to Ian Spelling about her – and her character’s – progress.

From that deliriously odd decidedly personal X-Files called exception versus reality, Annabeth Gish observes the following so far as her character, Special Agent Monica Reyes, is concerned : “I thought that she might be more esoteric, more ethereal, based on the way that Chris Carter and frank Spotnitz presented her to me at the beginning, when we first talked about how Reyes would develop,” the friendly and soft-spoken actress says. “But I think, actually, that might have been my own misconception, because she’s also an FBI agent and she has to have a lot of practical, tactical and logistical skills that she can perform. I don’t know that any agent could perform all those skills and be too esoteric and ethereal. So the performance aspect that’s been the most challenging is being a detective, as opposed to being a spiritual, open-minded woman. The way she is now, she’s a bit of both. She’s an FBI agent who has a bit of the ethereal in her. Chris and Frank are cultivating that more and more, but she has to deliver when it comes down to wielding a gun and doing her job. That’s been interesting for me.”

Asked about her initial reaction to her character, Gish is full of enthusiasm. “I liked Reyes’ disposition right away,” she says. “She had a willingness to believe without knowing much. She was open-minded and had this attraction to the other realm without pure, direct experience of it. I don’t think Monica had seen alien spacecraft before, but it was in her nature to have a sensitive, mystical thirst for whatever is out there. We’ve touched on that and I hope it’s an aspect that they’ll really pursue. There’s also a lot about her past that I don’t know yet. I’ve sort of collaborated on our idea about how she came to be here. They’re giving me some roots to feed on, but as with any series the characters evolve as the stories evolve. So I think that Chris and Frank are discovering who Monica is, just as I am. It’s happening simultaneously and I like what I’m seeing. What else would like to know about her ? I’d like to know about her experience with her family, her mother and father. I think there’s some mystical aspect to her background, and I’d like to explore that or at least touch on that. I think that knowing what happened in the past will give you a better understanding of why she is now. I also want to know why she’s into the occult.”

Gish arrived on The X-Files scene late in the eighth season, appearing first in “This Is Not Happening” and then returning a few episodes later for “Empedocles”, “Essence” and “Existence”. The character was quickly partnered with Special John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and thrown into the mix as Doggett and Scully (Gillian Anderson) dealt with the return of Mulder (David Duchovny) and the impending birth of Scully’s baby. The realm of series television was pretty new to Gish, who’d acted in the short-lived show “Courthouse” and a bunch of made-for-TV movies, including “Scarlett”, “Don’t Look Back”, “God’s New Plan” and, most recently “The Way She Moves”. However, Gish is best known for her work in such features as “Desert Bloom”, “Mystic Pizza”, “Wyatt Earp”, “Nixon”, “Beautiful Girls”, “Steel”, the box office hit “Double Jeopardy”, and the soon-to-be-released independent features “Buying the Cow” and “Race to Space”, the latter of which co-stars James Woods, Jake Lloyd of “Star Wars : Episode I – The Phantom Menace” fame, and X-Files veteran John O’Hurley.

Gish quickly discovered that The X-Files production team spends more days shooting an episode than just about any show on TV and that those days can easily run 12 or 14 hours or even longer. And, just as the rigors of weekly television were new to Gish, so too was much of The X-Files universe. “I was a casual X-Files watcher, but you have to understand that I’ve never been a religious watcher of any television program,” she says. “I’d definitely watched the first few season while I was in college. That was a big Friday night thing, watch The X-Files before you go out. As for the entries mythology… man, I tried to download some of it on the computer before I started with the show and it was so extensive and so deep and profound that I was kind of intimidated and daunted. The good thing was that Monica Reyes doesn’t have to know everything. She, like I was, was walking into the mythology kind of blind.”

Bye the time Season Nine rolled around, Reyes was on hand as a fulltime presence, while Mulder vanished into the night, Scully spent much of the her time at her new job at Quantico, and Doggett tried to fill Mulder’s shoes, win Scully’s affections and trust, and solve cases – of both the standalone and mythology variety – with Reyes. Meanwhile, with each passing day and each passing case, Reyes seemed to grow fonder and fonder of Doggett. Where any of this is leading, Gish has no idea. “The frustrating thing about series work is that you don’t know the entire story and you have to wait to know it,” explains the actress, who was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and now lives in Los Angeles. “And even though you don’t know it you have to play it out every week, a little bit at a time. So there are pieces of the puzzle that don’t quite fit or don’t match up yet or that’s frustrating as an actress. I want to know what’s going on between Doggett and Reyes. There’s this unrequited love. They’ve set up that Scully loves Mulder, Doggett loves Scully, Reyes loves Doggett and Follmer, Cary Elwes’ Character, loves Reyes. So they’ve set that up and it’s all unrequited. I think there’s a lot of sexual tension going on. And I think they should explore that, dammit!”

The ongoing, teasing, will-they/won’t-they nature of the romantic situation between Reyes-Doggett forces Gish and Patrick to carefully calibrate their performances, both when the characters are together and when they’re apart. A longing glance here or there might suggest something to the audience that Carter and Spotnitz never intended to convey. No episode highlighted the point better than “4-D”, the parallel universe show. Early on, Doggett brings his partner a housewarming gift of Polish sausage with mustard. The banter is sweet and when one character affectionately wipes some mustard off the face of the other, there’s no denying the sexual tension. Gish’s face registers comfort, warmth and familiarity, while Patrick’s betrays that plus a touch of conclusion : “Hmm, I think this is woman is into me”. Later, that scene gains relevance and impact when Doggett ends ward for Robert and me to film that [mustard-wiping sequence] because we haven’t gone there romantically as our characters”, Gish notes. “But that scene was so good. And the word is calibrate. That’s the perfect word. It’s frustrating, as I said, not to know where things are going, but it’s also great as an actress to always have an obstacle. My relationship with Doggett always has an obstacle in the way. Either he doesn’t want to love me or he’s in love with Scully. I don’t know if he even recognizes that Monica love him. It’ll be very interesting to see how they play it out, but Chris and Frank haven’t told me anything.”

While many of her scenes pair her with Patrick, Gish has found herself part of an ensemble cast. That’s been another new experience and one quite to her liking. “The amazing thing about Chris and Frank is that they have the ability to find actors who are interesting and as talented as hell,” Gish enthuses. “They really do attract great actors, from the main parts to the recurring parts to even the smallest roles. David, Gilliam and Robert, myself and Cary are completely different beings. I think we each have very different characteristics and qualities, and that’s good for the show. The one thing we all are, though, is dedicated and professional. It’s not like any of us are standing around, stomping our feet and saying, ‘Get the limo to take me home!’ We’re all about the work and we’re all dedicated to the work. I think Chris sort of demands that. He chooses actors who can execute that way, under these conditions.”

Gish has been called upon to do some strange things in a handful of her previous projects. She, along with Cameron Diaz, Courteney B. Vance and Ron Eldard, wined, dined, murdered and buried Jason Alexander, Ron Perlman and others in the black comedy “The Last Supper”. And, hell, she acted with Shaquille O’Neal in the comic book-based big-screen epic, “Steel”. The X-Files, however, regularly requires that Gish participate in a variety of crazy things, the kinds of things that prompt her to call her friends and family after a day’s work and, sometimes, right after she wraps a scene. “Doing some of the stuff in “Lord of the flies” was pretty darn weird,” she says, laughing. “Getting in that plastic sheath [which served as spider webbing] was pretty weird. I’ve had to look at hamburger meat that was used as the brain in a skull. Delivering the baby [in “Existence”] was pretty wild. One of the most exhilarating experiences was doing the episodes with the ship [“Nothing Important Happened Today, Part II”]. That explosion scene was one of the most extensive stunts I’d ever been a part of and it was totally exciting.”

Gish was obviously disappointed by the news of the series’ cancellation. She wanted the show to continue and she wants fans to give her and the show – which she acknowledges was starting to morph into something new – a fair shake. “I think people like what I’m doing,” she says, bringing the conversation to an end. “I’m sure there are those who are very loyal to Mulder and Scully and don’t want to have anything to do with Reyes and Doggett. As a whole, though, I think people are seeing good work and a good show.”

DGA Magazine: Directing The X-Files

Feb-??-2002
DGA Magazine
Directing The X-Files

Kim Manners looks into his monitors as yet another take is completed on “Audrey Pauley,” episode 13 of the ninth season of The X-Files. “Cut – Print it! Next!” he yells after doing that little karate move with his hands that everybody around the set imitates. The crew immediately picks up and begins to arrange the next setup, seemingly willing to do anything to ‘Mind Their Manners.’ The director comfortably steps aside for an interview as his crew happily prepares another shot.

It’s a virtual Kim Manners Love fest on Stage 5 at 20th Century-Fox. Actress Annabeth Gish (Agent Monica Reyes) dashes by, eager to put her two cents on tape: “He’s one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with.” The respect goes both ways. “These actors are talented enough; they come in and you believe them,” Manners said. “And when you believe the actors, the audience believes it.”

Manners is shooting his 50th episode of the show this day. The series will end later this year, with the completion of a total of 201 episodes, a quarter of them directed by one man. There have been a number of top-notch directors over the years, and the list continues to grow.

The directors are only part of a team that has endured a change in locale (from Vancouver to Los Angeles), which required replacing the entire crew, as well as major changes to the cast. But the tone and style of the show have remained consistent, under executive producer Chris Carter’s leadership.

The X-Files has a tightly functioning team of producers, writers, directors, UPMs and ADs that is able to turn out one of the more complicated shows on television, all in an 11-day shooting schedule. “We have all the special effects, all the scope, all the production value that you’d have in a feature film, just in a compact period of time,” 1st AD Barry Thomas said. “The difficulty is shooting a one-hour movie in eight main unit days.”

Each episode is shot using one of two alternating director/AD teams, doing principal photography with the main unit for eight days, followed by three days of 2nd unit work. The director follows his episode into the 2nd unit, while the main unit begins work on the next episode with yet another director and AD. The 2nd unit has its own AD and 2nd ADs. “The 2nd unit’s really another main unit,” line producer Harry V. Bring said. “It’s not like we give them all the car crashes and all the stunts. It’s whatever fits the schedule with the actors’ scheduling. They get drama scenes, spooky scenes, monster scenes, just like the 1st unit. We don’t necessarily delineate.”

Planning, of course, is a primary element in keeping The X-Files machine running smoothly, and communication is essential. The process starts with a “concept meeting,” which occurs upon delivery of an episode’s script, seven days before filming is to begin. The concept meeting is run by that episode’s 1st AD, and is attended by the director and the heads of the major departments – production design, props, costume, special effects and visual effects. The AD goes around the table and gives each department head the opportunity to answer any questions they may have about the script as they begin their prep. “Chris Carter is intimately involved,” said UPM/co-producer Tim Silver. “Chris’s ideas and his concepts for the series and for each episode can be seen in each frame. One way or another, it’s there.”

Seven days later, on the day before shooting, a “production meeting” is held, attended, once again, by the director and department heads. In this case, instead of going over the script department-by-department, the group goes through the script from beginning to end. “We go scene by scene through the script, letting anybody jump in with questions,” executive producer Frank Spotnitz explained.

Later that day, a “tone meeting” is held, attended by the director, the script’s writer and one of the senior producers, either Carter, Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan or John Shiban, all of whom are also writers for the show. “Again, we start on page one, and we go to the last page,” Spotnitz said. “We are as specific as we can be about who the characters are, what’s motivating them, what’s working underneath the surface. Everything we can think of to talk about to ensure that the director is successful.” The tone meeting marks “the day before you hit the beach,” according to Chris Carter. “We discuss what we want to make sure that we do and make sure that we don’t do.”

“Those meetings were what created the magic in the storytelling,” recalled Rob Bowman, who directed X-Files for seven seasons, as well as directed The X-Files feature film. “It was there that I could look into the writer’s eyes. I was able to get into their head, and they were able to get into mine. Maybe there’s something I didn’t understand in the script, or maybe I misinterpreted something. You can just walk through those things.” Often, for Bowman, after weeks of shooting 14-hour days, remembering those conversations provided the inspiration to complete a scene, sometimes even making use of a recording made of them. “I might be feeling, ‘I just want to crawl into a hole and die right now, I’m so cold and tired.’ And I play that tape, and I could hear myself and the writer – most often it was Chris – talking enthusiastically, like campfire storytelling. You’re put back in that moment when you weren’t tired, and you say, ‘Oh, that’s right, now I remember.'”

The writer on The X-Files is intimately involved with the look of his episode – even to the point of providing shot direction in the script. “That’s kind of something unusual about this show,” Spotnitz said. “But the truth is, if you didn’t do that on an X-Files show, you’d just never make it.”

X-Files scripts, Manners says, are the tops. The best ones “are the scripts that, when I read them, visually I am excited. When I read the script, I go to the movies.”

The movies Manners saw as a boy were those of Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Vincent Price – “This is my niche,” he said. The director recalled one of his X-Files shows, “Home,” written by Glen Morgan and Jim Wong, which featured three mutant brothers and their armless and legless mother, who lived in a cart under a bed, and with whom they had an incestuous relationship. “The picture opened with this woman giving birth on a kitchen table during a thunderstorm. You never saw the baby, but these three brothers carried it outside and buried it alive, because they didn’t want this terrible genealogy to continue. I read it, and I went, ‘Now this is a classic horror script.’ There are episodes that, when you read them – bang! – the images just leap into your head.”

Believability is the key goal for The X-Files, and that, said Manners, is the result of a combination of good scripts, good acting and good directing.

“This is a very difficult show. If you don’t do this show right, it would be the most ridiculous show on television. I mean, I directed an episode, ‘Leonard Betts,’ where a guy had his head cut off in the teaser, and he grew a new one.” If the show is grounded in reality, though, through solid acting performances and quality writing, said Bowman, “we found out that you’ve actually got latitude to do some pretty absurd things. If you can get people at the end of an episode to shake their head and laugh and say, ‘I don’t know – maybe,’ then that is a huge victory.”

Manners himself comes from a showbiz family. His father, Sam, was a production manager on such TV classics as Route 66 and The Wild Wild West. Kim was “a set rat,” he said, both watching and participating, as a child actor, appearing in his first commercial at the age of 3, selling Chevrolets. A year later, on his way home from watching William Beaudine, Sr., whom he called “Gramps,” direct an episode of Rin Tin Tin, the younger Manners told his father, “I want to do what Gramps does when I grow up. He gets to tell the cowboys and Indians what to do.”

A few decades later, Manners found himself climbing his way up the ladder, working as an assistant director and UPM on a number of shows before landing the title of director in 1978 on an episode of Charlie’s Angels. “I’ve been through all of them: the Simon and Simons, the Hardcastle and McCormicks, the Stingrays, the Wiseguys, the 21 Jump Streets.” Manners joined The X-Files during its second season on recommendation from both Bowman, who’d been with the show on its first season, and writers James Wong and Glen Morgan, with whom he had worked on 21 Jump Street.

Manners had worked on and off for years in Vancouver, where The X-Files was filmed for its first five seasons, and eventually was hired “in passing” by Chris Carter, he said, in the lobby of the Sutton Place Hotel. “He brings a wealth and breadth of experience that few television directors have,” Carter said of Manners, “particularly if you consider the hours of TV and amount of film that he has shot. He understands everything about filmmaking.”

Manners’ experience as both a production manager and as an AD is not lost on the crew either. “Having come from a production manager background,” said line producer Harry Bring, “he thinks that way when he’s plotting out his day and moves, very efficiently, through the day to maximize it. His creative eye is wonderful, his storytelling is wonderful, and he does diligent homework.” Manners is renowned on the set for his preparedness. “Kim is the best prepared director I’ve ever worked with,” said 1st AD Barry Thomas. “He’s so prepared that he calls me on the weekends, prior to a week’s shooting, and gives me the number of setups and any special equipment notes I need for the entire week.”

“On Monday morning, I know every shot that I want for the week,” Manners said. “I’ll get with my 1st AD, and I’ll give him the number of shots in each scene, and we’ll talk about how best to organize it. I look for an assistant to help me organize the most efficient way to approach a week’s work. I’ve been working with Barry [Thomas] so long – he knows what I want: To stay ahead of me. Keep feeding me. Keep the crew informed.”

From the crew, the feeling is mutual, according to Thomas. “The crew appreciates his ability to compromise, to shoot efficiently, and to not waste time. It’s so important in episodic television, where you’ve got to be quick on your feet and come up with compromises and solutions quickly.”

The actors love him, as well, both for his compassion and respect for them, and for his directing skill. “He has an extraordinary visual eye,” lead actress Gillian Anderson (Agent Dana Scully) said of the director. “He knows everything about the camera and about what one will see – where to put the camera in a shot in order to move the story forward.” For instance, filming repeated conversations on the set of FBI Assistant Director Skinner’s office could easily become run-of-the-mill. “But it’s never tired, it’s never just ‘another episode of television’ to him,” Spotnitz added. “He kills himself every time out, puts his heart and soul into it. And everybody sees it.”

Manners rarely rehearses his actors, except, perhaps, for the camera crew for a difficult move. “We’ll normally shoot the rehearsal,” he said. “I like the spontaneity of it. And most of the actors would rather shoot it first time.” He is also intimately involved with post-production. “What airs is most often my cut.” And because he is a co-executive producer, and “because I’ve been here so long,” his word counts when going over the other producers’ notes in the editing room. “I must say, they’re very willing to cut their dialogue and preserve some of the shots that we worked so hard to get. So it’s a very satisfying environment in that regard.”

Bowman has an equal respect for his former directing partner, with whom he would alternate each week (along with director R.W. Goodwin, who was with the show for its first five years) until his departure after season seven. “I’ve seen Kim tired, well beyond what’s good for him, and still right on his toes.” Bowman, currently completing Spyglass Entertainment/Disney’s summer fantasy, Reign of Fire, became attracted to X-Files after seeing a commercial for the series’ pilot. Raised on such shows as The Night Stalker and Night Gallery, he was hooked by the trailer, and eventually got on board, directing his first episode in the first season, “Gender Bender.” “I thought the whole process and the way the team worked and the way Chris [Carter] was aiming the show was something I wanted to be a part of badly. So I asked to come back as much as possible.”

He directed again in the show’s second season, after which Carter asked him to stay on full time as a producer/director. “It took me about a second and a half to make that decision,” he recalled.

According to Manners, he and Bowman set the tone for the series. “Robby and I set a real different look for the show. It’s a much different look in seasons two and three than in season one. Our styles are similar but not exact.”

“Rob is very precise, very aware of everything going on in the scene,” said Spotnitz. He’s “always looking for the detail that’s going to distinguish that moment from any other moment ever done.” Bowman has great respect for actors – going as far as studying acting himself in order to better understand their craft. “It completely changed my point of view about where my paint brush should go on the canvas, since the actor was going to be the one telling my story,” he said.

While Manners is “very good at the monster episodes,” Bowman said, his own preference was for the “conspiracy” stories. “At one point, I told Chris, ‘Please don’t give me those monster episodes.’ I just have such a tough time looking at the man in a rubber suit and taking it seriously.” The balance between the two was “a perfect marriage,” he said.

After Bowman left the show, he was replaced by several directors, among them Tony Wharmby, who recently had to leave to attend to personal matters, though not before leaving his own mark on the show. “Tony is a wonderful director of actors,” Carter said. “He doesn’t sit at the monitor like the rest of us do. He will stay right there with the actors and direct them from inside the room or next to the camera. And while he makes beautiful pictures, the performance is what matters to him.”

Interestingly, Carter himself has directed a number of episodes over the years (typically one or two per year). That number will increase, as he steps in to take up the slack caused by Wharmby’s absence, increasing the workload on the show’s creator, executive producer, chief writer and overall mastermind. He first took on the job in the series’ second year, when director Bryan Spicer was unable to do a scheduled episode. “I gave myself the job,” Carter said. “I was director by day, a writer by night – rewriting episodes coming up, planning the direction of the show, trying to produce other episodes. It was something that required a tremendous focus, I learned.”

Directing by cast and crew is something The X-Files regularly affords its family members, and, in fact, encourages. After seeing her cast-mate, David Duchovny, direct an episode, Gillian Anderson finally answered the call two years ago, not only directing but writing the script herself. Her show, “All Things,” focused on her own character’s personal life and relationships.

The experience was a great learning experience for Anderson, in all facets of filmmaking. With regard to directing other actors, “I’m actually surprised I hadn’t thought about this,” she admits. “Being an actor, I kind of assumed that I would know what to say to the actors. But that wasn’t the case.” Anderson involved herself in everything, from casting to post-production.

“I think that was a turning point in Gillian’s career,” commented her boss, Chris Carter. “I can see it now, especially directing her as an actress, that she understands camera direction in a way that she might not have before.” Anderson plans on continuing her directing career after the show ends, having optioned a book, Speed of Light, which she is currently adapting and plans to direct.

Actors are not the only X-Files’ family members to direct. 1st AD Barry Thomas directed an episode last year, as did executive producer Frank Spotnitz, who also took another turn in the current season. “This is my eighth year on the show, so I was very late to attempt it,” he admits. He was reluctant about the idea of directing, but eventually warmed to the idea. “It’s a very difficult show, because performance is really important to make something that’s kind of unbelievable seem believable. There are also very specific visual requirements. And when you’re trying to scare people or create suspense, if the camera’s not in the right place by even a few degrees, it makes a huge difference.” Having written the two scripts he shot helped to give him an edge. “When you’ve written the material yourself, it’s already in your own head, you understand all of the dramatic objectives.”

Co-executive producer Michelle MacLaren also took a shot this year, skillfully directing writer Vince Gilligan’s “John Doe.” MacLaren had wanted to direct for some time, taking directing courses to prepare her. Carter and Spotnitz agreed, scheduling MacLaren in early in the season, avoiding having the director’s duties interfere with her already heavy workload as a producer. Like the others, Michelle sought guidance from Manners, who went over breaking down the script, doing homework and preparing shot lists. “The most powerful thing he said to me was that he imagines it all cut together, and he sees the movie in his head, really visualizes it.” Chris Carter gave her some important advice, as well: “Make sure that the camera is always telling the story.”

“It’s a very, very supportive, creative atmosphere here,” she said. “And Chris is really generous in giving first-time directors a shot. To direct for your first time on a show like this is pretty incredible.”

It’s not always easy bringing in new directors on an established show, Carter said. “You step onto a moving platform here. You really need to understand the characters, and you need to be able to understand the mood.” Carter is always willing to give a new director a chance, though, “Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. And when you find a hit, you try to keep that person in the camp.”

In the last few years, the X-Files’ team has had to deal with two major changes – the introduction of new lead characters and a major move from Canada to Los Angeles. Following the announcement of David Duchovny’s departure two years ago (though his character has returned occasionally after being brought back to life, X-Files style), Anderson, who had played his partner, decided she, too, would be moving on after this season. Though the series is to come to an end this year, Anderson’s character’s role had been scaled back, first with the introduction of actor Robert Patrick’s Agent John Doggett character and, more recently, Annabeth Gish’s Agent Monica Reyes.

The changes have been both a challenge and an opportunity. “We wanted to preserve the Mulder/Scully relationships after David Duchovny left the show,” explained Spotnitz. “We knew all along that we were going to introduce another pair of characters,” Patrick’s Doggett at the beginning of the eighth season to replace Duchovny, and then Gish for a few episodes at the end of that season and all of the ninth. “Very consciously, you know you need the skeptic and believer characters. But we didn’t want to undermine or tarnish the Mulder/Scully relationship by having Scully have a new partner.”

And how have the directors handled the change? “It was very exciting for me when Robert Patrick came on,” Manners said. “After being on the show for seven seasons, suddenly I’ve got rebirth, creatively, because I’ve got a new guy to play with. All new options. Then Annabeth came in. So for me, I’ve got a whole new reason to get out of bed in the morning.” And, as with the directors, Manners assisted the new lead actors in fitting into their roles. “He sort of grandfathered me in,” Gish said. “He was kind of my umbilical cord, pulling me in and welcoming me. He sat down with me, wanting to find out how I work, and also to communicate the way the show works. He was like my ‘sponsor.'”

The move from shooting in Vancouver (based at North Shore Studios) to sunny California was similarly both a challenge and a nice change. “The obvious difference is the climate,” explained Bowman. Manners added that, “You realize that rain should be appreciated through a window.”

The change was brought on at David Duchovny’s suggestion, who wanted to return south. “After I was done kissing David,” Manners joked, “we moved to Los Angeles, and I was the happiest guy on the freeway.”

The change in locale allowed changes in story, as well, as new types of locations could be utilized. “More often than not, in Vancouver, we got moody clouds and fog and rain. In Los Angeles, you’ve got chipper yellow sun, Mexican restaurants and palm trees,” explained Bowman.

“One of our editors made a joke the first season in Los Angeles: ‘The show used to be dark and wet, and now it’s dark and dry,'” Spotnitz said.

The move to Los Angeles also allowed the writing and producing team, who were always based in Los Angeles, to be near the camera, which rarely occurred in Vancouver, save for a three-day trip north to prep each episode. “We ended up being insulated from an awful lot of day-to-day decisions,” said Spotnitz, “and now that’s not true.”

The difficulties came in having to give up a well-loved crew/family in Vancouver and quickly build a new one in Los Angeles, which, Spotnitz said, was partly accomplished by bringing in a number of people from the 1998 X-Files theatrical feature. “Leaving those people behind, who had basically helped make life for the show, was the hardest for me,” said Rob Bowman.

However, moving to Los Angeles meant building a team out of the world’s best crewmembers. “We were in a very enviable position moving here in that we were already a top show. We got here, and we kind of had our pick of the town,” Spotnitz said.

Here’s a crew that’s basically got to take a show that’s already become semi-legendary, and take the baton and try to cross the finish line and not lose the lead,” added Bowman. “Quickly, deftly, and with great dexterity, the L.A. crew just jumped right in and found equally as strong a visual vocabulary.”

So how will The X-Files end when filming wraps later this year? A two-parter – both parts to be directed by Manners – will bring the series to a close, though that’s not the end of the story. “The plan, hopefully, is that X-Files will become a movie series,” Carter said. “But that’s a fantasy, and we’ve got to still do them one at a time.” In the meantime, he and Spotnitz are developing an untitled feature project for Miramax/Dimension, and, Carter said, he still owes Fox another pilot.

And what of Kim Manners? “I’m hoping to move into long forms. I’d love to do films for theatrical release. But leaving the X-Files family will not be easy. This is a very difficult show. And we each help each other get through it. It’ll never be that way again. I’m savoring these last episodes that I have to direct. And they’re memories that I’ll never forget.”

Airlock Alpha: Reyes loves Scully?

Aug-04-2001
Reyes loves Scully?
Airlock Alpha
Michael Hinman

[Original article here]

It could’ve been an X-Files matching made in heaven

Move over Xena and Gabrielle.

It was a single line that erupted in a summer long of debate among fans of “The X-Files.”

In the season finale, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is giving birth to her child when Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) comments how “amazingly beautiful” Scully was during the birthing process.

So the question is now whether or not Agent Reyes is going to be a lesbian on the show.

“We talked about it,” executive producer John Shiban told TV Guide Online in a recent interview. “But we (ultimately decided) that it’s the kind of baggage that we (creator Chris Carter and producer Frank Spotnitz) that we didn’t want to deal with with this kind of character right now. We had other ideas that we were more excited about.”

Shiban says that while Reyes has “an affection for Scully that is deep and real,” there might be more implied from the season finale line than there should be.

“Most women look beautiful when they’re giving birth,” Gish said. “And it was a very authentic birth experience, so I think it was very harmless.”

Will there ever be a gay relationship on the show?

“On The X-Files, anything can happen,” Shiban said. “So I don’t want to discount anything. Life is complicated.”

The X-Files Magazine: Risky Business

??-??-2001
The X-Files Magazine [US]
Risky Business
Chandra Palermo

[typed by Donna]

Nestled conveniently out of the way of bustling crew members, a small machine noiselessly churns thin streams of smoke through a confined police station set’s cramped hallways. The severe light emanating from the set’s interrogation room cuts through the diaphanous haze, giving the busy corner of Stage Eight on the Twentieth Century Fox lot a spooky, surreal air that smacks of The X-Files. In fact, the hustle can indeed be attributed to production on the 14th episode of The X-Files’ eighth season, “This Is Not Happening.”

Suddenly, the hustle comes to a stop and the typical behind-the-scenes din fades to silence, as Kim Manners strolls into the interrogation room, his face tense with deep concentration. Taking a seat at the tiny room’s table, the director watches Gillian Anderson rehearse the upcoming scene. Anderson runs through her lines several times, stopping now and then to discuss her character’s demeanor through the weighty sequence. An easy dialogue springs up between the actress and the veteran helmer–who have worked together countless times throughout the past several years–concerning Scully’s fragile state of mind as she questions a man who may know Mulder’s whereabouts.

“This Is Not Happening” opens with the reappearance of abductee Theresa Hoese, who was taken around the same time as Mulder in the Season Seven finale “Requiem.” Other abductees have been turning up, many barely alive like Hoese, but many others dead. The man being interrogated, Absalom, has been seen at the sites of these discoveries but claims he’s only concerned with helping Jeremiah Smith [the shapeshifting alien healer from Season Three’s “Talitha Cumi” and Season Four’s “Herrenvolk”] nurse the abductees back to health. “And whereas Scully’s approaching it as there may be something to it, Doggett is approaching it strictly as a cop and wants to know why [Absalom] tortured Theresa Hoese,” Manners explains. “It’s kind of an interesting scene to see the different dynamic between Scully and Doggett.”

Yet the cause for concern over perfecting Scully’s every nuance lies not in her developing relationship with Doggett, but rather in her vulnerability as she prepares for a possible resolution to her search for Mulder. The cameras won’t roll until Manners and Anderson devise what seems most apt for the character.

“It’s an emotional story for Scully,” Manners says. “I mean, we’ve been looking for Mulder and we now have hope, seeing as Therea Hoese’s been returned, that we may indeed find Mulder. It’s an emotional roller coaster for Scully’s character, so I have to concentrate on what we’re doing with Gillian and her side of the story. [Plus], Doggett is a non-believer, but he doesn’t want to see Scully hurt, so I have to concentrate on what Robert’s doing. And Skinner’s got an investment in this, as well. At the same time, we’re also introducing a new character. So, I have my work cut out for me here, a lot of bases to cover. It’s tricky.”

The new character Manners mentions is Monica Reyes, an FBI special agent from the New Orleans field office who specializes in ritualistic crimes. Doggett, who worked with Reyes on a prior case, calls upon her expertise to help explain the source of the returned abductees’ horrific wounds. Scully resists Reyes’ help at first but soon begins to appreciate her open-mindedness. Partly created to, according to executive producer Frank Spotnitz, balance the believer/skeptic dynamic and prevent Doggett from becoming a third wheel once Mulder returns, Reyes is very much unlike the show’s other characters.

“I think she’s going to bring a lightheartedness [to the show],” Manners says. “Whereas Scully and Mulder have always been so guarded in their true feelings, this is a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. She speaks the truth maybe sometimes too freely, too easily. She’s a free spirit. She’s not flaky, but she’s kind of by the cuff. She works spur of the moment. Maybe she and Doggett can find something interesting together.” Thrilled to sink her teeth into such a meaty, important role, the actress chosen to portray Reyes, Annabeth Gish (Buying the Cow, Beautiful Girls, Mystic Pizza), is counting on this enthusiasm to help her adjust to the series’ notoriously long days and nights of shooting. “My first night of shooting was on location in Simi Valley, sort of out in the middle of no man’s land,” Gish says. “And as I was driving up, I saw that little gathering of generators and the big crane that’s the false moonlight, and [I felt] all of the energy on the set. It kind of reminds you of why you’re an actor on movies or television. There’s such an energy to it that, no matter how many hours you’re working, there’s still that magical little excitement that we’re telling a story and we’re pretending. It’s really cool, and it’s kind of eerie and surreal.” Although Gish has so far signed on for only a three-episode arc, there is a good chance Reyes may become a recurring character. With this in mind, Manners has been paying close attention to how he handles her introductory scenes.

“I’m taking it slow and, with each performance, weighing every line,” he explains. “When I yell ‘action’ I literally try to concentrate on every line of dialogue and every expression and make sure that it’s right for the character–after talking to Chris [Carter] and Frank and Annabeth about who the character is. And we’re just trying to discover it together You can’t rush it.” Manners is not the only one to struggle with the episode’s many competing interests. Spotnitz, who co-wrote the episode with Carter, describes s number of concerns they wrestled with in crafting the compelling tale.

“We knew that everybody knew Mulder was coming back, so we didn’t want his return to be what you’d expect,” Spotnitz explains. “How do you make that unpredictable, despite the fact that everybody knows it’s happening? And aside from the desire to make it as suspenseful and surprising as we could, there’s the fact that we were cognizant we were reopening the mythology of the show and creating a new chapter with what the aliens are up to, and so we had a lot of long term thinking to do about that. It was a very complicated puzzle.”

Several tall lamps with large, circular heads shine brightly behind an immense backdrop, illuminating its Giegeresque design and bringing to life the alien spacecraft where we last saw Mulder-strapped to a demonic-looking chair and subjected to a host of tragic tortures. David Duchovny’s stunt double, Mike Smith, removes his robe and slippers and settles into the imposing chair, as Manners and stunt coordinator Danny Weselis discuss the camera movement for the next shot. Luckily for the X-Files’ crew members, Mulder’s story picks up right where it left off, so the so-called “limbo” set they toiled on for the season’s opening two-parter, “Within”/”Without,” gets to see at least one more episode of action before being indefinitely packed away in storage.

“[The limbo set] was a huge undertaking.” general foreman Billy Spires says. “It’s an intricate set that really involved everybody–special effects, company grips, construction, a lot of different crafts. That was probably our most intricate set so far this season.” Even though “This Is Not Happening” ranks as one of the toughest episodes this season from a writing/directing standpoint, it’s a relatively laid back one for the rest of the show’s team. Despite the enormity of the storyline, the series’ department heads insist it’s a fairly light, straightforward episode from their individual standpoints.

“Its not light in reference to the amount of work that needs to be done, it’s that there’s nothing outlandish,” property master Tom Day explains. “I’m not trying to figure out how to get 500 rats to all go from one jail cell to an other one on cue. That type of challenge isn’t there. But to be perfectly honest with you, after some of the stuff we’ve done on stand-alones, we don’t mind a little bit of a break on this stuff. We’ve had some bizarre things.” Of course, as with any episode, there’s still the occasional bump or two in the road. For instance, stage space has become an endangered species this year, and the only place to create the dilapidated cabin where Absalom gathers and cares for the unfortunate abductees is inside an already existing set originally created to house the nuclear reactor structure featured in Season Seven’s opening two-parter “The Sixth Extinction”/”The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati.”

“It’s been 30 to 40 sets since then, but we’ve always left it standing,” Spires says. “It’s our only huge, permanent set that we always turn into something else, whether it’s a basement laundry room, the hull of a ship or a Plexiglass prison cell. But this time we’re filling the entire set with an other set.”

“This compound is a really tricky thing,” set decorator Tim Stepeck adds. “We’ve got to put 60 people inside that one little space and try to make it look bigger than it really is, so we’re doing a lot of trick stuff with the set and hanging plastic and giving it depth.” Also tricky was staging the episode’s teaser, which features a high-speed chase between a beat-up old car and a UFO. Weselis worked with an aerial coordinator to make a helicopter and its bright “night sun” light double for the saucer–until it can be added later via CGI by the show’s visual effects wizards. “We had the helicopter pilot shining the night sun back and a stunt double for [UFO-obsessed character] Ritchie chasing it,” Weselis explains. “He was going about 70 to 80 mph down this dirt road chasing a helicopter that’s probably six feet above the ground. And we did close run-bys at high speed and numerous shots coming over rises.” Ambitious stunt sequences and set construction aside, what crew members really want to talk about–what they’re most excited about–is the return of Mulder and the show’s continuing storyline. After a string of stand-alones, everyone seems to relish the chance to create another installment of the X-Files’ mythology. And this episode’s shocking revelations and jaw-dropping cliffhanger had most of them feeling like X-Philes glued to the edges of their seats on a Sunday night. The consensus is clear: “This Is Not Happening” is an instant crew favorite.

“It is, in my humble opinion, a great episode,” Day says. “And that character Jeremiah Smith-cool character. As a matter of fact, one of the coolest things about episode 14 for me is that, when we do an episode like this, I need to research characters like that. So, I’ll get a hold of the tape from the office from the first time we saw this Jeremiah Smith character, and I’ll take it home and watch it in case there’s any personal props or any little insight I can gather. It’s a great episode, and my wife and I were watching it and got hooked 100 percent. But it gets to the end and says, ‘to be continued.’ And I don’t have part two! So every night when I get home from work now, my wife says, ‘Honey did you happen to get the tape of part two?'” Outside the protective confines of Stage Eight, a torrential downpour rages as the temperature steadily drops. Constant requests for umbrellas and parkas dominate CB discourse, but a drastic shortage of the desired items plagues hair, makeup and wardrobe technicians. Now adorned in soaking wet attire, the crew expresses shock and dismay over the nasty weather change.

When the show was filmed in Vancouver, cold rainy conditions were the norm. Certainly, there would have been no lack of umbrellas back then. But The X-Files has now been in Los Angeles for almost three seasons and, pampered by the land of sun and fun, cast and crew were caught unawares. The series has traveled a long and winding road since that move took place. Many of its successful conventions remain intact, but a great deal has changed–mostly during Season Eight alone. And “This Is Not Happening” marks a definite turning point in this transformation. Although the return of Jeremiah Smith links the episode to previous events in The X-Files’ mythology, its story takes the arc to the next level, opening new horizons to be explored. Obviously the addition of the Reyes character speaks volumes to the writers’ willingness to experiment with the show’s successful formula. Of course, it did help that the introduction of Doggett had already proven the fans to be open to new cast members.

“I thought that our fanbase would take a little while to warm up to Robert, but they didn’t,” Manners says. “I guess I shouldn’t be [surprised by that] because Robert really brings a lot to the character of Doggett. He’s a very likable character, he’s a hell of an actor, and I think he brings a really refreshing dynamic to the series. I know that he’s inspired myself and Gillian and all of us to reinvigorate our work, and it’s been exciting. I look forward to the same kind of thing with Annabeth.”

But the changes don’t solely involve new characters. As they did in Season Eight’s opening two-parter, Scully and Skinner again demonstrate a conversion, cementing the fact that they now, like Mulder, accept alien abduction as a possibility – automatically assuming this to be the cause of the episode’s strange events.

“It’s kind of a relief because for so many years we had to work so hard to maintain Scully’s skepticism,” Spotnitz says. “Once we let Doggett into the show, it gave us the latitude to relax that. And for Skinner, I think it’s just absolutely liberating for the character because he had been in the middle for seven years and finally gets to be on one side. And I think for Mitch [Pileggi] it’s been very gratifying to be able to play that.

“But I think Scully’s a believer in her own way still,” he continues. “We’re cognizant all the time as we’re writing these scenes of how she would say it. If you notice, when she talks about aliens like Jeremiah Smith, there’s still some qualification there. She believes, but she doesn’t but it wholesale. She doesn’t leap into things like Mulder does. So, it still feels like her character, even though she’s come a long way.” And of course, the manner in which Mulder is reintroduced will have a significant ramifications for the show. But that secret may not yet be revealed and so surely won’t be spoiled here. Suffice to say, it should defy any expectations.

“I think it’s a big surprise,” Spotnitz says. “There’s twists and turns about how he’s returned and what happens when he gets back. The show will not be the same old show once he gets back. I think it’ll be more interesting than it’s been in a long time because everything is up for grabs.”

The X-Files Magazine: Agent in Training

??-??-2001
The X-Files Magazine [US]
Agent in Training

[typed by Donna]

It’s a cold, rainy day in supposedly sunny L.A., but the weather can’t dampen Annabeth Gish’s spirits. While the precipitation grows steadily more tumultuous, the Iowa native calmly prepares to be transformed by The X-Files’ hair and makeup technicians into Special Agent Monica Reyes. A noticeable glint flashes in Gish’s eyes as she sits comfortably inside her trailer parked outside of Stage Five on the Twentieth Century Fox lot describing her new role on the series. Although it’s only her second day of shooting on the show, she’s already more than familiar with many aspects of the character.

“When I was reading the script [for ‘This Is Not Happening’], I thought, ‘Who’s been watching me in my life?’ because it seems really fitting for my personality,” explains Gish, who is perhaps best known for her roles in Double Jeopardy, Beautiful Girls, Shag and Mystic Pizza, and who can be seen this year in the PBS adaptation of A Death in the Family and the feature films, Race to Space, Pursuit of Happiness and Buying the Cow. “She’s open and spiritual, and she’s not a skeptic or a believer. She’s riding that line.

It’s something that appealed to me personally because [if you] go and look at all the books on my bookshelves and next to my bed, it’s such an eclectic display of spiritual searching and physics and science and all of that. There’s a real spiritual aspect to this character, and to tie my acting skills to something that I also am personally intrigued by is exciting. That’s the most exciting thing to me-knowing that I’m going to go on a journey as much as my character is.”

An FBI agent from the New Orleans field office with a master’s degree in religious studies and a specialization in ritualistic crime, Reyes is introduced in “This Is Not Happening” when Special Agent John Doggett, who has a past with her that will be explored more fully in future episodes, requests her help with a strange case. Although Reyes’ spiritual openness is in direct contrast to Doggett’s knee-jerk skepticism, the character was created mainly as a complement to Doggett. Executive producer Frank Spotnitz says he feared Doggett may become the odd man out when Mulder returned to the show.

“We were looking at a series with three leads-Mulder, Doggett and Scully-and thought it would be awkward,” Spotnitz explains. “It felt like the believer/skeptic weights were off balance, and we needed somebody else in the believer column.”

Needing to find an actress to portray Reyes in a hurry but not wanting to rush the character’s development, Spotnitz and Chris Carter decided to kill two birds with one stone and let the casting of Reyes influence the evolution of the role.

“We had [casting director] Rick Millikan bring in all the actresses in town who would be interested in doing something like this, but we didn’t have the character yet, so we couldn’t tell them anything about the character,” Spotnitz says. “They didn’t have lines to read. They just came in and we talked to them. We looked for somebody who had an interesting personality to set alongside David [Duchovny] and Gillian [Anderson] and Robert [Patrick]. And Annabeth Gish was the clear choice. We met a lot of wonderful actresses, but she was the one who had this kind of spark to her that just seemed like it would be really interesting. And it’s gonna change the show again, which I think is a good thing for the series. She’s the type of character we’ve never seen on The X-Files before. She’s kind of looser, funny, more of a free thinker, and it gives the show a different feel.”

Rather than be intimidated by the expectations set upon her character, Gish is thrilled by the challenge. “Robert’s addition has infused some new energy into the show this year, and it’s exciting to think that I can try to do that, too,” she says. “Not that there’s any lack of anything already, but [it’s great] just to throw another piece of paint on the canvas.”