Posts Tagged ‘bruce harwood’

The X-Files Magazine: Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood

Apr-??-2002
The X-Files Magazine [US]
Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood

It’s the last night on the set for actors Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood. There is an air of impending sadness, because this could be their last night of shooting on any episode of The X-Files. So far, however, the mood is light. The actors and crew stand in clusters, chatting and laughing, as they wait to begin filming another scene. Several crew members ask for pictures with the cast of The Lone Gunmen. But later, the tone of the set will switch, as the cast and crew shoot close-ups for the trio’s final scene, which just happens to be the characters’ death scene. The script reads: Jimmy slowly lays his hand on the glass. The Gunmen do the same… three hands side-by-side opposite Jimmy’s, whose eyes now well with tears. This is goodbye. Reactions are mixed among the three actors. They all agree that the deaths of Frohike, Byers, and Langly while sad are fitting. “I’d already mourned the fact that the show was ending,” says Bruce Harwood, who plays John Fitzgerald Byers. “The fact that we were being killed, I don’t think made too much of a difference to me. It doesn’t surprise me that we go out this way.”

“Isn’t that how we all want to go?” remarks Dean Haglund, who plays Langly. “Well, maybe not so painfully,” he laughs.

Tom Braidwood, who plays Melvin Frohike, was not enthusiastic about the ending at first. “I guess I was a little disappointed,” he admits. “I don’t quite see why it had to happen.” Braidwood, who worked on the Vancouver set of the series as an assistant director for Seasons One through Five, is able to see the producers’ need to wrap up The X-Files characters once and for all. “In the end, it’s right for them,” he surmises.

Choosing to have the Lone Gunmen die at the end of “Jump the Shark,” did not come easy to co-writers of the episode, executive producers Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban. “It was actually a really hard decision to make,” explains Spotnitz. He exposes his fondness for the Gunmen, saying, “It’s funny, because they’re fictitious characters, and the show is coming to an end, but we really have a lot of affection for them.”

Spotnitz says that he, Gilligan and Shiban wanted to give the Gunmen a special ending, one that could only be achieved with such a dramatic climax. “It felt like the right thing to do,” he says. “We could really make them into big heroes and give them their moment to shine.”

Although they did not, at first, know how they wanted the Gunmen to meet their fate, the writers had definite ideas about how it should play out. “We just knew that we wanted it to be unequivocally heroic,” Spotnitz wholeheartedly.

Chris Carter’s announcement that this season of The X-Files would be the last came just as the writers were plotting out this one storyline. That was when they knew what they had to do. “It gave us the impetus to do this kind of ending,” Shiban says. Although a bit traumatic to comprehend at first, Shiban found himself excited at the story prospect. “If it is done well, there is no more heroic thing to do a character,” he says. “It seems just like the perfect end for the unsung heroes of the world.”

The producers did consider the effect on loyal Gunmen enthusiasts. “The ending is going to be challenging for fans of the Lone Gunmen,” guesses Gilligan. “It makes part of me sad, but it’s hopefully a noble end.”

Shiban has his own rationalization. “They die to save the world, and that to me is a fitting end.”

The guest actors in this episode are also well-versed in the Gunmen mythology, appearing in both The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen series with the conspiracy-debunking cabal. Stephen Snedden and Zuleikha Robinson make a reappearance (see ‘Shooting Co-Stars’ box-out), while Jim Fyfe also returns, having played Jimmy the Geek in The X-Files episode “Three of a Kind” and also dead Jimmy’s twin brother, Kimmy the Geek in The Lone Gunmen. Fyfe recalls his fondness for the three actors, as well as their on-screen counterparts. “I love them,” he says. “As guys they’re great, and as characters they’re great.”

When Fox canceled The Lone Gunmen in 2001, executive producers Gilligan, Shiban and Spotnitz were sure that they still had a story to round out. “It was such a big cliffhanger sitting out there,” Gilligan explains. “And we knew we wanted to resolve it.”

The ninth season of The X-Files was the obvious place to tie up those loose ends. “Within the X-Files context, we sort of vowed to ourselves to make this work,” states Shiban.

The return of this plot meant that they had to wait a whole year from the last episode of The Lone Gunmen to write the resolution. Gilligan admits to having some trouble when he actually had to sit down at the computer. “I spent a lot of time building it up in my head,” he says. “The whole time saying, ‘This has to be the greatest episode ever. This has to serve two masters – The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen series – and marry them together perfectly. It has to be beautiful.'”

While crediting Spotnitz with making sure that the episode would get done at all, Gilligan still toiled with developing the plot. “It’s taken me the longest of about any episode to work my way through,” he says. “It’s been a tricky one.”

The writers agreed that they could not simply make this show a continuation of The Lone Gunmen finale episode, “All About Yves.” “I was thinking along those lines,” Gilligan acknowledges, “but Frank rightly said we can’t exactly do that because this is a whole different television series – one that we’re using as a platform to finish this story.”

The writers also had to bear in mind that many X-Files fans may not have tuned in to the Lone Gunmen’s series. “It would have thrown The X-Files audience too much,” says Spotnitz.

The three put their heads together to figure out just where exactly the audience would find the Gunmen and their cohorts after a whole year. The story they came up with reunites the Gunmen, Jimmy, and Yves with arch nemesis Morris Fletcher (played comically and astutely by Michael McKean) was pivotal to The Lone Gunmen finale. Fans of The X-Files will also remember the character from the “Dreamland” two-parter and “Three of a Kind,” both in Season Six. In “All About Yves,” Fletcher orchestrated a dramatic con job, kidnapping Yves and leaving the Gunmen in a secure, underground bunker. Naturally, the Gunmen are none too thrilled to encounter Fletcher again.

In “Jump the Shark,” Fletcher first draws Agents Doggett and Reyes into Yves’ case by teasing them with the claim that she is a Super Soldier. The agents then bring in the Gunmen. The episode moves quickly out of the realm of Super Soldiers and into that of international terrorism, biological agents, and shark cartilage. Yes, shark cartilage. Sharks were incorporated into the story after the title of the episode was chosen. “Jump the Shark” is an entertainment web site launched in 1997, named for the famous Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumps over a tank full of sharks on his motorcycle. The creator of the website, Jon Hein, christened the term to portray the moment in a television series’ run when its originality has begun to go downhill. Spotnitz calls the title, “a funny joke at our own expense.”

Gilligan agrees. “I kind of like it when a show ribs itself, and the idea of jumping the shark is sort of fun.”

The producers arranged for Hein to have a walk-on role in the episode, but unfortunately, his schedule did not allow for the appearance. Hein, however, was delighted to hear of his creation’s use as the episode’s title. “I thought it was great,” he declares enthusiastically. “The X-Files has always ‘got the web’ and actively incorporated it into the show with a great sense of humour and cleverness.” The X-Files is the site’s second most popular vote-getter. Most of Jump the Shark’s voters feel that the show has never, in fact, “jumped the shark.”

After the writers secured their title, they looked for ways to incorporate sharks into the episode. Gilligan recalls that the writers liked the image of the shark in the first shot of the show. They came up with the teaser that features Fletcher on a boat in the Bahamas.

“We threw out the teaser for a long time because it felt, at first, that it got us off to the wrong start,” says Shiban. After several sessions of working out more traditional X-Files teasers, they came back to the original, more comedic one.

“We wanted to start it off and truly tease the audience in the classic sense of a teaser, to get them intrigued,” Gilligan opines. “Michael McKean does that.”

McKean is a favourite of the show’s producers. “When an actor exceeds your expectations, it’s great,” says Spotnitz. “He is a surefooted actor, period. Be he’s also a great comedic actor, with great comedic timing and instincts.”

“He’s just a delight. He so embodies this character that it’s scary,” Shiban gloats about his guest star. “One of the reasons he’s such a good fit with both The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen, is because, as comic as he is, he carries himself with such a sense of reality.”

Also praising McKean, Gilligan says simply, “He so gets it.”

The Lone Gunmen themselves are also exciting about reuniting with McKean. “We’ve been talking Spinal Tap, and I switch from fellow actor to annoying groupie,” jokes Haglund.

“Micheal’s great,” agrees Braidwood. “He’s a character and a very funny man. He’s a lot of fun to work with.”

Gilligan likens the character of Morris Fletcher to Louie DePalma from the television series Taxi. “He’s the guy you love to hate,” Gilligan laughs. “But you don’t really hate him. Deep down you sort of love him.”

After Fletcher’s humorous entrance, the story gradually becomes more serious, culminating in the Gunmen’s touching final scene with Yves and Jimmy. Balancing humour is something The X-Files writers have done numerous times throughout the series’ nine seasons, especially when the Lone Gunmen are on hand. In this episode, however, it was especially challenging.

“In the writing, we did a number of revisions around that very issue,” Shiban states.

“The world in which [these characters] live is not funny,” Spotnitz elaborates. “We had to make it more real.”

Over the course of writing The Lone Gunmen series last year, the producers, according to Gilligan, found the show “worked best when there was actually a little more drama rather than a little less.” He thinks they achieved this tone best in the series finale. “That episode struck a nice balance between comedy and sort of high stakes seriousness,” he recalls wistfully. “We tried to strike that same tone in this one.”

Admittedly, this episode hits both ends of the spectrum. “It is a balancing act, and we’re watching dailies every day and walking that tightrope,” Shiban confesses.

Another challenge was the actual melding of the two shows. Once they got into the writing of it, it became very difficult to merge the two series together. Spotnitz refers to the combination of the two shows, something they have done before with the Millennium series crossover in the seventh season X-Files episode, “Millennium,” as a “massive headache.”

Shiban remarks that it was difficult to communicate the complicated back-story that would have become The Lone Gunmen mythology had the series continued. “We kept running up to these moments where the three of us would be working on the script,” he recounts, “when we asked ‘Does The X-Files audience need to know this? Is the back story too complicated?’ You have a whole world for a series, but this is just one episode.”

The writers were now faced with the daunting task of communicating this world to a viewing audience that may not be familiar with The Lone Gunmen series. Calling it a “necessary evil,” Gilligan explains that they tried to keep exposition to a minimum.

Another challenge to writing this episode was, as Spotnitz puts it, “striking a balance in screentime between the Lone Gunmen and Doggett and Reyes.” Add Morris Fletcher, Jimmy Bond, Yves Adele Harlow, and Kimmy the Geek to the mix, and you’ve got a full plate for any writer.

“It’s an exercise in trunk packing,” says Gilligan. “You have to use every little bit of available space.”

Shiban, while discussing the difficulty of working Agents Doggett and Reyes into the initial story, says that he found it just as problematic as having to incorporate the characters into the X-file into any script. “The X-Files is a hard form to master,” he muses, “which is partly what I think makes it so good when it clicks. But we struggle every week.”

“We realized very early that our Act IV would mostly be the Gunmen, because we’re doing a story about how the Gunmen are unsung heroes,” Shiban says. “We want them to be heroic in the climax. Therefore, we knew that [Doggett and Reyes’] role would be diminished at some point, and that made it easier in some ways.”

The producers are happy with the final script as a tribute to the Gunmen, but they understand fan reaction will undoubtedly be mixed. “Some will hate us for it,” predicts Shiban. “But I bet the ones who say they hate the idea will cry when they see it.”

“At the end of the day, if the fans of The Lone Gunmen series are the ones pleased, that’d be enough for me,” sighs Gilligan. Although he hopes that all X-philes will enjoy it, Gilligan offers up some morsel of completion for the fans of the canceled series. “They stuck with us through thick and thin, and I wanted to see something resolved for them.”

As the late night on the set draws to a close, the actors reflect on the end of the Lone Gunmen, bringing up feelings about the end of The X-Files series as a whole.

“I’m really sad to see it go,” says Fyfe of The X-Files. “I think all successful shows become a part of the culture in a way. I’ll miss it.”

The cast and crew once again laugh together between takes. Although the sentiment of the episode is bittersweet, everyone on set is having fun with the one last go around.

“What I’ll miss are the people, because they’re all great to work with,” Braidwood reflects. “It’s been a wonderful experience, and that’s what I’ll miss the most.”

TV Week (Vancouver): Hip To Be Square – The Lone Gunmen Shoot From The Hip About Their Techno Geek Personas

Mar-10-2001
TV Week (Vancouver)
Hip To Be Square – The Lone Gunmen Shoot From The Hip About Their Techno Geek Personas
Robin Roberts

[typed by Megan]

As much as Chris Carter would like you to believe his X-Files spinoff, which debuted last week, is a comedy starring the three stooges in question shift oh-so-slightly in their seats when you mention it. Sure, they’ll go along with it; they want the thing to succeed more than anyone. But you get the feeling they’d like to be taken a little more seriously, despite the delight they obviously feel at finding themselves stars of their own series.

“I don’t think any of us seriously for a moment think [we’d get our own series],” says Tom Braidwood (the short one). “We always joked about it, but…”

But Carter warned early on to the notion of a spinoff, if only for relief, comic or otherwise, for his X-Files stars, David Duchonvy and Gillian Anderson. “I think we first did an episode dedicated to them [the Gunmen] the year we did the movie, because we need some time off for David and Gillian,” says the snowy-haired one. “That was the first time the Lone Gunmen had their own episode. And I think it worked so well and it was so fun to do, and it was so successful, I think that’s the first time anybody believed there was a chance we could spin these characters off.”

But the new “stars” – Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, all Vancouverites – weren’t among the believers. “The three of us certainly thought that it was a one-off, that we there to serve a purpose for one show,” says Braidwood, an assistant director as well as a series star. “No one was more surprised than the three of us when we were brought back the next year for two or three episodes.”

So in the dark about their destiny were they, the three found out about the spinoff in the Hollywood Trade paper Daily Variety. And you thought your office kept you out of the loop.

“All I remember about the first time I did the character was that I did this thing with my hands in my pockets the whole time,” says Harwood (the tall one).

“What?” asks a stunned Haglund (the blonde one), turning to his co-star. “That just doesn’t sound right.”

“Only to you,” shoots back Harwood.

“I only had one line,” recalls Braidwood, interrupting the hijinx, “which I managed to stretch into two by saying it twice, but I didn’t see a lot of depth in the character at that point.”

“The glasses I wore on the show were pulled out of a giant bag of prop glasses and then I threw them back in [after the scene],” remembers Haglund. “And when we were called back, I was asked to remember which one of the glasses were the ones I wore, and I couldn’t remember. So if you watch the first three seasons on DVD, you see my glasses change every episode. That was literally how much thought we had actually put into it.”

“In the first [X-Files] episode that featured the Lone Gunmen, we’d only had last names,” recalls Harwood. “So I remember that was part of the thrill [with the spinoff]. Getting the script and going, ‘I’ve got a first name! Hooray! Hooray!'”

“Yeah,” adds Haglund, “and before that, we had to make up a back story. We didn’t really know how the three of us would know each other, and then they did a flashback episode, where we learnt that we were selling illegal cable…”

“And I’d been working for the goverment,” cuts in Harwood. “Up ’til then, I thought I was one of those guys who comes to fix the photocopier and is always dressed in a suit and tie for some reason.”

“That’s right,” says Haglund, “and I thought I was a roadie for the Ramones or something.”

Always the more serious of the three – despite the fact he’s the one who tends to meet mud puddles face on in the Gunmen pilot – Braidwood says, “We actually came to the series already with a fair bit of background that had developed over the seven years on X-Files, particularly the two shows that concentrated on us. So in a way we’ve just kind of fallen into it naturally, and if anything’s grown, it’s more of a reationship on a day-to-day basis that we have with each other on the screen. And you see a lot more of that and how we relate to one another, how we develop stories, how we argue over how we’re going to handle a story. I’ts been an odd osmosis and, you know, a lot of people use the word ‘spinoff’ but I’ve never seen [The Lone Gunmen] as a spinoff. It’s sort of like what we do in our life when we’re not helping out Mulder and Scully. It’s like, ‘What do these guys do?” And this is what we do, this is our life, which is very different than The X-Files life.’

The very different lives of the trio computer hacking geeks while they were awaiting their big break. Harwood, who plays John Byers, graduated with a Fine Arts degree in theatre from UBC and quickly landed roles in locally shot series like EarthStar Voyager, 21 Jump Street, The Outer Limits, MacGyver and the feature Honey, I shrunk the Kids before snagging the role of Byers on The X-Files in 1994.

Before his groundbreaking part as Ringo Langly, Haglund was chasing stand-up stardom after earning a theatre degree from SFU. His TV credits include Vancouver-shot series like The Commish Sliders, Robocop and the upcoming animated series The Big Guy, while his film roles, like Harwood, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids as well as the upcoming animated feature Tom Sawyer.

Braidwood, meanwhile, had been toiling behind the scenes as an assistant director, director, production manager and writer in both TV and film before landing the role of Melvin. His producing and directing credits include DaVinci’s Inquest as well as the films Kingsgate, The Portrait, Walls, Low Visablility and Deserters. He’s assistant directed The Sentinel, Strange World, Pittsburgh, Mercy Point as well as Carter’s Millennium and The X-Files. He began acting at the Tamahnous Theatre Workshop Company, where he also wrote and preformed as a musician.

For the leads, being back home is a good thing, as it is for creator Carter, despite the ill will amoung some of the local press and fan base who took it as a personal insult when The X-Files moved to L.A. “I just think people really thought of The X-Files as a Vancouver show, and so when it left, it was hard,” he says. “It was hard for me, very hard for me. But I think all has been forgiven. I’d worked so long in Vancouver and I knew a lot of the crew. And we have three Canadian actors, so it just seemed a natural for us to go back, where we’d established a sort of winning formula. Vancouver could double as anywhere in America, it has so many great looks.”

And those looks will stand in for Anywhere, U.S.A., as the publishers of The Lone Gunmen, their fledging underground newspaper of rampant goverment coverups and conspracies, encounter evil villians while ferreting out the truth, with the aid of high-tech gizmos and blind bravery.

In the pilot episode, Byers’ father, a military man, dies, prompting Byers to, of course, believe it is a coverup for something more sinister. Along the way, he discovers his father is still alive, and the trio’s missing adventures lead them to the beautiful but mysterious Yves Adele Harlow – an anagram for Lee Harvey Oswald – their competitor in the “information business,” who further flames consipracy fires. In a hilarious tribute to Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, Braidwood at one point hangs from the cable while attempting to intercept incriminating documents. And that’s what will likely help this series succeed – Carter has wisely played it tongue in cheek, with a wink-and-nod awareness of the campy goofiness.

And although there will be crossovers with The X-Files, Carter, who’s also working on another Files film, insists, “Even though these guys come from The X-Files, the show doesn’t owe a whole lot to The X-Files I don’t think, except that it spawned these characters.”

TV Guide (Canada): We Geeks

Mar-02-2001
TV Guide (Canada)
We Geeks
Brian Hartigan

[typed by Megan]

An X-Files spinoff gets the spotlight. Tell everyone

After eight seasons of guest spots on The X-Files, those computer-loving conspiracy buffs known as The Lone Gunmen are now on their own, championing the rights of Americans everywhere.

Pretty funny, considering all three are red-blooded Canadians.

“There’s a line in the pilot,” says Bruce Harwood (aka John Byers), “where Tom [Braidwood, aka Melvin Frohike] comments about fighting for ‘Truth, justice and the American way.’ After he read the line, he turned to me and said, ‘Can you believe we’re two Canadians saying this stuff?!'”

The irony of that line is nothing compared to the unlikely circumstances surrounding the creation of The Lone Gunmen series itself. In fact, all three stars are still in disbelief that they have a show of their own. “It’s astonishing, to tell you the truth,” admits Dean Haglund (aka Ringo Langly, the blond one).

“If you created a plot line that went: ‘Three actors do one-day stint on a series that ranked 66th, and eight years later get their own show,’ your editor would fire you.”

Harwood is also quick to admit that he was skeptical that the three could hold their own in an hour-long format, but realizes now “that we won’t have to explain a lot of background regarding our characters.” And what characters they are! In each of Byers, Frohike and Langly, you’ll find enough deep-seated paranoia to keep a good psychiatrist in caviar for life.

First, there’s the bearded Byers (Vancouver’s Harwood), a snappy dresser with serious father issues. “Byers must be pretty paranoid or else he wouldn’t walk around dressed like that,” he says.

Then there’s the shorter Frohike (Braidwood, also from Vancouver), an unkept grump who takes the brunt of the jokes and pratfalls. “I’m probably the most paranoid because I’m the oldest and most cynical,” he says of Frohike.

Finally, there’s Langly (Manitoba’s Haglund), a cross between Garth from Wayne’s World and your average high-school AV tech. “I’m paranoid because I’m outraged against the establishment,” he explains. Despite their obvious foibles and eccentricities – or maybe because of them – the fact is , if you’re fan of The X-Files, you’re undoubtedly a fan of The Lone Gunmen.

Since their first appearances in 1994, during the show’s first season, the sneaks have become fan favourites by adding a dollop of fun to The X-Files’ mounting sense of doom.

Their popularity isn’t lost on co-creator Chris Carter, who says the tone of this series will be different than its originator. He and his co-hosts (X-vets Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan among them) hope that the premise will appeal to fans of early X-Files who enjoyed the occasional light-hearted episode. “We’re playing to the same audience,” says Carter. “But we’re doing outrageous comedy.”

Gunmen will also be filmed in and around Vancouver, the city that The X-Files called home until series star David Duchovny (aka Fox Mulder) criticized its weather and said he wanted to move the show to Los Angeles.

At the time, many people in Vancouver felt insulted and slammed the actor for being unappreciative, though Harwood thinks Duchovny may have gotten a bit of a bad rap. “Poor David,” he says. “After those remarks, there was a sense that everyone in Vancouver just turned on him for slagging a town that helped produce a successful show. I don’t think the move made people angry but I will tell you this: Nearly everyone I know [there] stopped watching after it left.”

Braidwood agrees somewhat, pointing out that many cities tend to claim hit series as their town. “In a really broad sense, the city sees it as theirs,” he explains. “And then all of sudden it leaves and they’re asking, ‘How could you do that?'”

For his part, Carter explains that moving The X-Files to L.A. gave the show a much-needed shot in the creative arm, but aside from the obvious financial benefits (Gunmen is produced for roughly half of what The X-Files costs), he’s happy to be back in Vancouver. “I like the people a lot,” he tells TV Guide. “It’s an easy trip back and forth and I’ve worked with the crew.”

That quick, coastal flight will also afford that opportunity for continued crossovers back into The X-Files while allowing actors like Mitch Pileggi (who plays assistant director Walter Skinner) to pop up on Gunmen from time to time.

Still, make no mistake, this isn’t The X-Files redux or, according to Harwood, any other show for that matter. When the spinoff was announced last year, it was touted as something akin to Mission: Impossible with geeks, a comparison Harwood finds unfair. “Gene Roddenberry had to first describe Star Wars as Wagon Train to the stars,” he says. “Now, I ask you, was it anything like that? No really. So take the Mission: Impossible comparison with a grain of salt.”

In other words: trust no one.

The Province: Smoking guns

Feb-21-2000
The Province
Smoking guns

The men behind the Lone Gunmen, that trippy trio from The X-Files, are getting their own Fox pilot. TV writer Dana Gee gets the straight goods from the Vancouver actors — along with a few new conspiracy theories

Tom Braidwood, Bruce Harwood and Dean Haglund make up the Lone Gunmen.

Look out Hollywood, the Lone Gunmen are taking aim at prime time TV.

Those wacky, paranoid geeks that help Mulder and Scully crack conspiracies are spinning off into their own show.

It was confirmed recently that The X-Files’ guy-in-charge-of-everything, Chris Carter, will produce a pilot based on the Gunmen.

That’s great news for the three Vancouver-area actors who portray Byers, Frohike and Langly: respectively, Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund.

As is the norm with anything to do with The X-Files the lid is on pretty tight. What we do know is if The X-Files does not return for an eighth season — don’t hold your breath — the show will air in September. If Fox can work out new contracts with Carter and star David Duchovny, an eight season will likely hit the air and the Lone Gunmen pilot will show up as a mid-season replacement sometime in January.

We tracked down the trippy trio and got them to dish on the show and life as the wildly popular conspiracy guys.

Dean Haglund A.K.A. Langly

Q. Where’s the pilot going to be shot?

A. In Vancouver, since we were all starting to look too sexy with our buff bodies and tans that we were getting in L.A.

Q. You’re not afraid of rain these days, are you?

A. Only acid rain and what happened to that? I thought David Suzuki said the Gulf Islands were supposed to be dead now unless we took drastic actions! Did we take them?

Q. What do you think the show should be called?

A. Hmmmmmm. How about, I Told You If You Make that Face it Will Stay That Way?

Q. What will your own show mean to your popularity?

A. The show will mean, when entering a large event, I will no longer be asked, “Are you with the band?”

Q. Will we see you walking next to Bruce Willis or John Travolta down a red carpet at a movie premiere anytime soon?

A. Yeah, that’s right. I am starring in a picture with John Travolta and Bruce Willis called That Long Haired Guy Killed the General’s Daughter and He Can See Dead People.

Q. What’s in your new contract?

A. Well, I fought hard, it was quite a battle with Business Affairs, but I worked it so I only have to mention my last name at the security gate to get in.

Q. How would you describe your personal style?

A. Biker from Mensa.

Q. What are some traits you and Langly share?

A. Unkempt hair. Unclean linen.

Q. Will you do nudity?

A. Only if nudity will respect me in the morning.

Q. What is the weirdest thing someone has written about you in say an Internet chat room?

A. You want weird? YOU WANT WEIRD? Oh, baby, you don’t know the meaning of weird until you have seen the things I have seen. Thus, I can’t really judge what the weirdest means anymore.

Q. If you could start one rumour about yourself what would it be?

A. That I am that deep voice you hear when you dial the wrong number.

Q. What rumour would you start about the other two Gunmen?

A. They are the women’s voices that say ‘Telus’ and ‘Next stop, Metrotown.’

Q. What’s your favourite conspiracy theory?

A. That Monica Lewinsky was a CIA operative on a mission to distract the public from the fact that the government was completely useless.

Q. If the moon walk was staged, how do you explain pictures and film footage of the astronauts experiencing weightlessness?

A. They turned the camera upside down. Try it at home.

Q. Is it true that, in the pilot, there will be a strong female role, a theorist who stimulates your intellects as well as your . . .?

A. As my what? Could you finish the question please. I am bad with double entendre. I can barely handle single entendre.

Q. Any idea on who will play that role?

A. I think I will. It’s a chance to expand my acting range to play a woman who I lust after.

Q. Who else would you like to play that role?

A. I think we should rotate the entire cast of 90210 through the part. They’ve got the time.

Q. Finish this sentence: If I were Chris Carter the first thing I would do is . . .

A. Go surfing!

Tom Braidwood A.K.A. Frohike

Q. Shooting The X-Files in L.A. hasn’t made you afraid of the rain, has it?

A. I’m born and bred in the rain. I’m a water baby.

Q. What’s the show going to be called?

A. Don’t know but I think The Lone Gunman would be good. Our name is originally singular whose mythology derives from the lone gunman referred to in the Kennedy assassination.

Q. What did you do to celebrate when you found out the show was a go?

A. I called my wife at home, sat on the balcony of the hotel in L.A., watched the sun set and went to bed at 10 p.m.

Q. What’s the difference between Hollywood you and Vancouver you?

A. About a two-and-a-half hour plane ride.

Q. Will we see you walking next to Bruce Willis or John Travolta down a red carpet at a movie premiere?

A. I don’t think so. Maybe we’ll be hired to clean the carpet if we’re lucky.

Q. What is one trait you share with Frohike?

A. Bad taste in clothes.

Q. What’s one trait you don’t share?

A. I’m better looking than my character.

Q. Will you do nudity?

A. Pity the poor viewing audience . . .

Q. What’s the weirdest thing someone has said about you or Frohike in, say, an Internet chat room?

A. Don’t follow the chat rooms much. But a young female fan at one of the conventions wondered if I wore boxers or briefs.

Q. If you could start one rumour about yourself what would it be?

A. That I can act . . .

Q. What rumour would you start about other Gunmen?

A. That they think I can act . . .

Q. What’s your favourite conspiracy theory?

A. Gas prices . . .

Bruce Harwood A.K.A. Byers

Q. When you heard about the pilot, did you do anything wild and crazy to celebrate?

A. No. A pilot is a pilot –which is good — but not a series. I take it one step at a time.

Q. Are you now considered A-list party material?

A. Nope.

Q. Will we see you walking next to Bruce Willis or John Travolta down a red carpet at a movie premiere anytime soon?

A. Nope.

Q. What will be in your new contract? A bigger trailer, champagne? What do you get now?

A. Sorry, private information.

Q. How would you describe your personal style?

A. Well, I don’t wear suits (like Byers) if I can help it. I prefer relaxed and pretty unstylish clothes.

Q. What’s one trait you share with your on screen persona?

A. Bookishness.

Q. What is one thing you and your character don’t share?

A. Extreme paranoia.

Q. Will you do nudity?

A. Why would anyone want me to?

Q. What would surprise an X-Files fan to find out about you?

A. X-Files fans are hard to surprise!

Q. If you could start one rumour about yourself what would it be?

A. That I was taller and better looking.

Q. What rumour would you start about your other two Gunmen cohorts?

A. That they said I was taller and better looking.

Q. Who is funnier, Jerry Lewis or Jim Carrey?

A. Robin Williams.

Q. What’s your favourite conspiracy theory?

A. That the JFK assassination was a suicide.

Q. If the moon walk was staged, how do you explain pictures and film footage of the astronauts experiencing weightlessness?

A. Invisible strings.

Q. How do you explain crop circles and Ricky Martin?

A. They both describe concentric circles.

Entertainment Weekly: Secrets and Lies

Feb-05-1999
Entertainment Weekly
Secrets and Lies
Mary Kaye Schilling

[Original article here]

Will ”X-Files” answer viewers’ questions? — The Fox sci-fi drama promises to reveal some secrets in the season finale

X-Files‘ actors live in mortal fear of it: the big kiss-off from series creator Chris Carter. The bell doesn’t toll often for regular characters (among the unlucky few: Deep Throat, X, and Bill Mulder), but the possibility hovers, like an alien spaceship, over the cast. For one actor, the phone rang days before shooting began on a momentous two-parter, a sweeps event that Fox is trumpeting as ”The X-Files conspiracy…exposed!”

Divulging the identity of this doomed player would, of course, ruin the second episode’s penultimate shocker (there are two humdingers). Let us instead relive the actor’s bittersweet moment of (you know) truth: ”Just before I got the script I got a message to call Carter’s office. He was very calm. He said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you about the episode.’ And I said, ‘Are you going to fire me?’ And he said, `No, but I am going to shoot you.’ He said to trust him, it was going to be a very noble death. I said, ‘I do trust you, implicitly.”’

The victim pauses here for comic effect. Not only because the nature of a character’s death is the least concern of a soon-to-be-unemployed actor (one who relocated from Vancouver to L.A. when the show did the same last summer). But because of the inevitable punchline: ”And Carter said, ‘Trust no one.”’

Trust is to The X-Files what Nothing was to Seinfeld. For just as Jerry’s sitcom was a whole lot of something, Carter’s drama is very much about finding the people you can trust, the few who do speak the truth. In the case of FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), that person is his partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).

But in the case of X-Files fans, whom can they trust about this latest claim that the conspiracy — Carter’s ongoing plotline involving aliens, government deception, deadly black oil, and killer bees — will be explained? After all, similar promises went unfulfilled last summer with the release of the franchise’s first film, The X-Files — a visually stunning movie that nonetheless created more questions than it answered. ”I think people were frustrated because the studio’s ads [‘The Truth Is Revealed’] implied that everything was going to be tied up,” says Duchovny. ”And then it wasn’t.”

”I never claimed to be revealing more than I did,” insists Carter. And believes X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz, ”the truth meant something different to everyone who walked into the show.” Spotnitz, who developed the movie with Carter, is one of the few writers at Ten Thirteen (Carter’s production company) who can make heads or tails of the conspiracy, or what Carter calls the Mythology. And in his mind, ”the movie did reveal very explicitly a lot of things. But other people might have been expecting the truth to be about something else, like Samantha.”

For the uninitiated, Samantha is Mulder’s sister, abducted by aliens when she was 8 and he was 12. His search to find her has led to his and Scully’s series-long quest to learn the truth about extraterrestrial life on Earth. From that simple concept has developed the most brazenly complex arc ever attempted by a television drama. Indeed, it is a veritable Machiavellian maze, so tangled with intrigue and betrayal that even dedicated fans find themselves scratching their heads bloody. Duchovny acknowledges that this is ”hard on people who just tune in occasionally.” And it makes attracting new fans nearly impossible — a problem illuminated by the movie, which focused exclusively on the conspiracy rather than showcasing one of the series’ stand-alone stories featuring creepy genetic mutants and the like.

Though its very respectable $187 million worldwide take is a testament to the show’s powerful fan base (and virtually guarantees a sequel), Carter and Spotnitz admit that since the movie failed to lure X-Files virgins to the franchise, it was something of a disappointment. ”I hoped we would have reached more nonfans,” says Spotnitz, who found stringing two seasons together creatively confining. ”I’m looking forward to the next movie because I anticipate the show will be over, and we’ll be free to reinvent ourselves.” (Carter is contracted only through the show’s seventh season, ending in May 2000; an eighth is unlikely given his desire to concentrate on X movies.)

Perhaps more distressing was the show’s dip in ratings this season. Though still a major hit for Fox, The X-Files is down 16 percent in total viewers (now averaging 16.8 million versus 20 million last season). Carter blames the network’s schedule shuffling; Fox replaced X‘s old lead-in, King of the Hill, with the freshman sitcom That ’70s Show, causing the 8:30 slot to lose 34 percent in viewers. ”Our nice lineup has a hole in it,” says Carter. ”Not to take anything away from That ’70s Show — they’re trying their best — but it is struggling.” He also points to CBS’ Sunday movie, now drawing big audiences (it ranks ninth among viewers; X is 13th). ”It changes the quality of the pie,” he adds. ”The slices get smaller for everyone.”

But has the increasingly unwieldy conspiracy also alienated some original fans? Spotnitz doesn’t think so, though the upcoming doubleheader is a way to lighten the load: ”We didn’t know until shortly before [Chris and I wrote the two-parter] that we were going to do it. But after the movie, when we sat down to do the next Mythology show, it felt like the right time. We realized we had reached a critical mass, and that to complicate it further — to dangle another piece of the puzzle — was just too much. And so we got excited suddenly at the idea of everything coming to a head now. It didn’t seem expected to us.”

Carter insists the conspiracy is believable because of its complexity. Yet he’s also aware that the clock is ticking toward the series finale. ”I was thinking today, I have another 28 episodes left. We’ve got to prepare for a big unravel. We figured it would be better to explain the conspiracy now, and make that last arc more emotional and action driven, with less baggage to carry.”

In other words, Carter acknowledges the density of his creation. He will not, however, admit to what plagues many fans: profound confusion. The conspiracy, he maintains, ”is not as complicated as you think.”

Hanging out with the conspiracy’s supporting players is probably a mistake. They are relentlessly cheerful: The more dour they are on camera, the sunnier they are off; Mitch Pileggi (Assistant Director Skinner), William B. Davis (the cancerous Cigarette Smoking Man — or CSM), and Chris Owens (CSM’s son, Agent Spender) smile entirely too much. Way to kill a mood, guys.

But to a man — and this includes Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, and Tom Braidwood (Mulder and Scully’s geeky helpers, the Lone Gunmen), and Nicholas Lea (dastardly renegade Krycek) — they are baffled by Carter’s Mythology. Of the upcoming two-parter, Lea admits that after he read the scripts, ”they needed to be explained about four times. Other than that, it was really clever.” He laughs. ”But that’s kind of like the norm. You read a script, then call someone to explain it.” Harwood finds hardcore fans helpful. That they can explain it, he says, ”is scary in itself.”

Skinner is the character most in the dark (a visit to the set reveals even his desk calendar is out of it: The date reads August 1995). And it’s a state of mind Pileggi can relate to. ”I don’t feel either of us has a handle on” the conspiracy, he says. For the two-parter he stuck to his usual methods of preparation: ”I just read my parts and play it as if I don’t know what’s going on. It’s always a surprise when I watch the shows.”

”I am happy that Mitch sees that as a positive,” cracks Duchovny a few days later. ”You know, whatever works for you…. I can’t believe he’s telling people that.”

Duchovny is in his trailer (which, unlike Mulder’s apartment, features a big, tousled bed), waiting to be slimed with black goop for an episode involving a hurricane; given that the wait has just exceeded five hours, he’s remarkably chipper. It’s no secret that Duchovny is occasionally frustrated by the limitations of his character (Mulder, by necessity, is fairly static in his obsessive skepticism and paranoia). So it’s surprising to hear him speak eagerly about the inevitable movie franchise: ”Not that I want to play Mulder for the rest of my life, but my fantasy is to take him into different eras of his life.” Instead of going the James Bond route, he says, where you fire the actor when he gets too old, ”let’s see how funny it is when a guy like this is behaving the same way at 53.”

To keep himself interested in the meantime, Duchovny has written and, for the first time, will direct an X-Files episode (airing in April). ”It’s about the Negro leagues, and an alien who falls in love with baseball. I really love the script, I have to say,” he says, somewhat sheepish in his pride. ”I remember finishing it and going, I wish I had a better director, because I think it could be one of the best episodes we ever did.”

Darren McGavin will star, returning as former FBI agent Arthur Dales of last season’s ”Travelers” — a flashback episode that featured a pre-X-Files Fox Mulder sporting a yet-to-be-explained wedding band. ”That was just me, you know, fooling around,” admits Duchovny, who clearly enjoyed the resulting Internet frenzy. ”I had recently gotten married, and I wanted to wear it. The director was really nervous. ‘You have to call [Chris] to see if the wedding ring is okay.’ I didn’t, until [after the scene was shot]. When I did call, Chris goes, ‘What!?’ I said, ‘No, it’s good. It’s so Mulder to never have mentioned that he was married.’ And he says, ‘Well, that creates a problem. If we ever do a show that takes place seven years ago, you’ll have to be married.’ I said, ‘Do you really have a lot of shows in your head that are going to take place seven years ago?”’

Arthur Miller once wrote: ”He who understands everything about his subject cannot write it. I write as much to discover as to explain.” One could say the same of Carter. Though he’s always known where the conspiracy will end up, he’s been as startled as viewers by the twists and turns occurring along the way. ”The story starts to tell itself,” he says. ”And that’s been very exciting.” But surprises extend beyond his Mythology. For instance, though humor has long been an X-Files hallmark, this season the writers are giving Ally McBeal a run for its funny money (most notably in a hilarious two-parter featuring Michael McKean as an Area 51 official who assumes Mulder’s identity). ”It was something we noticed we were doing after the fact. I think it was a reaction to the bigness and importance of the movie,” says Spotnitz, who adds that the show’s move to L.A. may have subtly encouraged a general lightening of tone.

This drama, in fact, does humor better than most sitcoms, and at no expense to the credibility of its darker, scarier episodes. More remarkable, given X‘s potential for Twin Peaks overload, is the show’s elasticity; it continues to evolve even in its sixth season. ”I’m very impressed that we’re still growing,” says Duchovny. ”It’s funny the way the show organically takes on a form of its own. Nobody decided we were going to turn it into a comedy this year. And we did for a while.”(For those unamused, Spotnitz says the show will follow a straighter path for the rest of the season.)

Even more unexpected, say Carter and Spotnitz, is Mulder and Scully’s escalating affection — something that was strictly taboo during the show’s first couple of years. Coexecutive producer Vince Gilligan, who came on staff in season 3, remembers getting some flak over a mere hint of intimacy in his episode ”Pusher” (about a psychokinetic ninja): ”I scripted that Scully touches Mulder’s hand at the end. And Chris and Frank went, ‘Oh, this is too much, too soap opera-y. But the fans went nuts.”’ And they still do: It was Mulder and Scully’s near kiss in the movie that provoked the greatest whoops of audience pleasure.

Carter has no problem with the ripening sexual tension, but he wants the relationship to remain platonic. ”From an actor’s standpoint, it’s too bad,” says Duchovny. ”I would like to complicate the situation rather than maintain it in this limbo we’re told people like. We’ve been able to go places with the relationship over the years, but we don’t build on it. But that’s the nature of the show — there’s never any accumulation of experience.”

The characters may not accumulate experience, but the facts of the conspiracy have certainly piled up. And at this point in this story, you are probably wondering: When are they gonna reveal something, anything about the two-parter? (Hey, watching The X-Files for six seasons has at least taught us how to tease.) Without spoiling too much: The two episodes will, with breathtaking efficiency and comprehensiveness (the scripts reach as far back as the first season’s finale, ”Erlenmeyer Flask”), establish Cigarette Smoking Man not just as the enforcer of the Syndicate (the government splinter group in cahoots with aliens bent on colonizing the earth), but the conspiracy’s very heart (or lack of one). At long last, his true motives will be revealed — and without, thank God, justifying his cold-blooded methods.

”One of the things that’s always bothered me about TV shows is that as they get older, everybody starts to become a good guy,” says Spotnitz. ”All the conflict is gone because everybody has been rationalized [Revealing CSM’s reasons] is not a desire to make him good — just a way of understanding his character.” So, yes, ”he is still just the worst guy.”

Part 1 begins back in a familiar railway-car operating room, where doctors have finally achieved what the Syndicate and the aliens have been collaborating on since Roswell: a successful alien/human hybrid — none other than repeat abductee Cassandra Spender, former wife of Cigarette Smoking Man, mother of Agent Spender, and last seen being abducted again in season 5’s ”Patient X.” ”One of the first ideas for the two-parter was that Cassandra was going to be returned,” says Spotnitz. ”And the end of the conspiracy, as it’s being promoted, is in the explaining of her importance.”

Though Nazi references have peppered episodes since the first season (as in Purity Control, the name for the hybridization project), they proliferated in the movie, which established the Syndicate as a sort of Vichy government, collaborating with the aliens to save their own sorry hides. The two-parter will continue that story line, with the faceless aliens (the ones with a penchant for torching folk) fulfilling the role of the Resistance. A tidy metaphor, yet (one feels it’s necessary to point out) Nazis as definition of evil — well, hasn’t that been done before? ”Chris’s vision for the show — which all of us acknowledge — is, that, you know, what we’re dealing with is so ridiculous,” says Spotnitz. ”So you need to do everything to make it seem believable, like analogies to things we know to be true.”

Left unanswered: the burning question of Fox Mulder’s paternity. (Duchovny is going the Star Wars route, assuming CSM is Mulder’s Darth Vader of a father: ”It makes mythological sense.” Carter will only add, ”We haven’t said definitely not. What we have said is that he is definitely Samantha’s father.”) Nor will we learn the true significance of Gibson Praise, the psychic brainiac kid, who, according to this season’s premiere, was some kind of missing link. ”The kid — and most certainly the idea of the kid — will come back, [probably] next year,” says Spotnitz. ”He’s key in explaining the idea, argued in the movie, that aliens were here before, and that this kid has got alien DNA, and perhaps all civilians have it.”

In the meantime, we’ll have plenty of drama to entertain us — including a potential alien invasion. For though most of the players’ motivations will be explained, Mulder’s Holy Grail — Samantha — must still be found. This season’s remaining conspiracy episodes, says Carter, will deal with the ”men and women left standing. How are these people going to survive [an alien invasion] and to what lengths will they go to do that?”

”The analogy I make in my own mind,” says Spotnitz, ”is that these episodes are like the fall of the Soviet Union. Players and pieces are still there, but what happens will change the dynamics of everything.”

Carter and Spotnitz are tentatively planning a three-parter to end this season, something they’ve never done before. As for next year, any bets on who’ll be left standing in the series’ finale? ”Out of a cloud of dust, Krycek will walk,” predicts Dean Haglund of the show’s ultimate rogue, the one-armed Rat Boy. Harwood agrees: ”He might have only one leg left, but he’ll be the last one standing.”