Posts Tagged ‘tom braidwood’

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.”

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.

TV Guide: Will Gunmen Shoot and Score?

Jan-31-2001
TV Guide
Will Gunmen Shoot and Score?
Sheryl Rothmuller

As one-third of the scene-stealing Lone Gunmen trio on The X-Files, Tom Braidwood has spent eight seasons lurking in the background. But that’s all about to change now that the actor and his fellow super-sleuths, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood, have been spun-off into their own Fox series – aptly titled The Lone Gunmen.

“It’s really interesting to have to focus on it day in and day out,” Braidwood tells TV Guide Online of going from a bit player to a full- fledged series regular. But the actor – who originally joined The X-Files as an assistant director – admits he’s prepared if his career as a thesp doesn’t blast off with Gunmen. “If they run the series and it doesn’t get picked up, I’m quite certain I’ll simply go back to focusing on directing and producing,” he says. “But I would probably also make an effort to do auditions.”

Premiering March 4 in The X-Files’s Sunday at 9 pm/ET timeslot (where it will air for three weeks before being relocated to another night), The Lone Gunmen finds the three leads playing like a misguided Mission: Impossible team. And although the central characters were first introduced to viewers on The X-Files, Braidwood doesn’t view Gunmen as a spin-off.

“The way the comedy has been happening and the direction the show has taken, it’s really not a spin-off,” he admits, referring to the show’s differing tones. “It’s sort of like what we do in our life when we’re not helping out Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson)… And this is what we do, this is our life, which is very different than The X-Files life.”

Well, one thing both shows have in common is that they both have very attractive leads – although it didn’t start out that way. To beef up the babe quotient, Gunmen producers tapped comely newcomers Zuleikha Robinson and Stephen Snedden to round out the ensemble.

Braidwood, however, isn’t offended by the notion that the core threesome weren’t attractive enough to carry the show. Jokes the actor: “Us three are really ugly.”

Canadian National Post: Lone Gunmen Tom Braidwood Interview

??-??-2001
Canadian National Post
Lone Gunmen Tom Braidwood Interview
Howard Howell

VANCOUVER – It”s payday for three Vancouver actors, the stars of an X-Files spin-off series called The Lone Gunmen. Shooting begins this week at North Vancouver”s Lions Gate Studio, which was home to The X-Files for five years before production moved to Los Angeles.

The new show will feature Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood, the paranoid, computer-hacking triad of nerds on The X-Files. Fox has ordered 13 episodes, the first of which, the pilot episode, has already been shot.

“We”ve taken a huge step up in having a series built around us,” says Braidwood, sitting outside the set. “We always joked about it, the three of us that played the parts, but I don”t think any of us in our wildest imaginations thought they”d do a series about it.”

At the studio, Braidwood gets a lot of congratulations and handshakes from the cast and crew of other shows using the lot. For Vancouver, a city perceived predominantly as a service town to the Hollywood film industry, The Lone Gunmen series is the move everyone”s been waiting for. All the show”s stars are Canadian.

Braidwood, a small, unassuming man with bushy eyebrows and big glasses, began his career in experimental theatre in Vancouver in the 1970s. When he moved into the film industry in the “80s, he focused on directing and producing, never giving much thought to acting.

But in his role as hacker Melvin Frohike, the 52-year-old father of two now has his face on coffee mugs, T-shirts, trading cards and hundreds of Internet sites. He even has his own “estrogen brigade,” a female Internet fan base that calls him “adorable” and “a real softy.”

The story of how Braidwood, an assistant director on The X-Files, came to play the part of Frohike is now a Vancouver legend. The director, when casting the role, said he was looking for someone slimy, like Braidwood.

Braidwood explains that he rarely shaved and often wore the same clothes to work. Frohike”s own trademark wardrobe — black fedora, combat boots and fingerless gloves — wasn”t far off the mark from Braidwood”s unique, real-life style.

Braidwood, Haglund and Harwood all expected their parts, conceived as an homage to Internet-based X-Files fans, to be a one-time deal. But the popularity of the Lone Gunmen characters was an unexpected surprise. The Scully-lusting, conspiracy-craving Frohike became a particular fan favourite, an eccentric figure whose one-line witticisms, such as “My kung fu is the best” (“80s slang for hacking), were an unexpected hit with the audience.

With the new show, which Fox will begin airing in March, Braidwood is certain to gather more fans. But being a star is not a role he feels comfortable with. He says he still doesn”t understand the appeal of his character and the success of his role.

“I wonder myself who will watch the show,” he says.

Braidwood, who will continue to perform in The X-Files, says there will be some crossover between the original series and its spin-off.

“Some of the same characters will show up,” he says. “But it will be more government conspiracy and less supernatural, science fiction. You will get to see more of what the Gunmen do in their lives.”

Executive producer Chris Carter and much of the old X-Files crew will be involved in the new show. They”ve added a woman, a hacker, who Braidwood says “is more attractive than we are,” and another guy, not a hacker, “who will be the hunk.”

“I guess we weren”t handsome enough,” says Braidwood, who is constantly joking about how funny looking and weird the Gunmen are.

But perhaps the biggest kick for Braidwood is how American the show and the Gunmen themselves are. “It”s perfectly clear that we”re Americans in the show,” he says. “We live outside of Maryland and we talk about Uncle Sam. They”re not playing the show like it”s Canadian. And it”s quite a hoot that three Canadian guys are doing this American thing.”

On his way to the dentist to get a mould for a scene he won”t explain except to say that it will be “really funny,” Braidwood admits such a large role for Canadians also comes with a lot of pressure. “We have to do a good job. I certainly don”t think we can be lazy about it.”

After all, even if he won”t admit it, the reluctant star is having much more fun as Frohike than he did as a slimy assistant director. The Hollywood service industry may be a good way to make a living, but it”s also an easy way to get stuck doing the same thing for years.

But Braidwood isn”t worried about getting stuck now. Even if he ends up playing Frohike for decades (and he”s already been at it for seven years), there will likely be nothing but surprises — at least if his career path so far is any indication.

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.

SciFiAndTvTalk: The X-Files’ Tom Braidwood – The Industrious Gunman

??-??-1998 (Fall 1998?)
SciFiAndTvTalk
The X-Files’ Tom Braidwood – The Industrious Gunman
Steve Eramo

[Original article here]

I recently discovered several interviews I did a number of years ago that, for one reason or another, were never published. Rather than have them continue to gather “dust” in my computer, I thought I would share them with you. In this interview – Tom Braidwood talks about his work behind-the-camera on The X-Files as well as his recurring role of Melvin Frohike, one of the three Lone Gunmen.

When actor/director/producer Tom Braidwood was hired as the first assistant director for The X-Files he had no idea that one day he would be working in front of the camera as well as behind it. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time when it came to casting the character of Melvin Frohike, the brainy, balding and bawdy third of the paranoid but resourceful trio The Lone Gunmen.

“I was working as the first assistant director on an X-Files episode [E.B.E.] being directed by an old acquaintance of mine, William Graham. It’s the one in which The Lone Gunmen first appear. He had already cast Byers and Langly but couldn’t find anybody to play the part of Frohike. Apparently, he made a joke to the producers during the casting session about needing someone slimy ‘like Braidwood.’ So they came out of casting and asked me to do it.  I thought, ‘Why not?’ and agreed, never thinking that anything would ever come of it.”

Back in 1993 Braidwood’s friend, X-Files production manager, now producer, J. P. Finn, contacted him and asked if he would be interested in the job as first assistant director on the show.  He asked Finn for a copy of The X-Files pilot and, after watching it, immediately took the job.

“Right from the start the work was fascinating but very demanding,” says Braidwood. “The scripts are always filled with special effects and every one of them is a challenge. During its second season The X-Files really became popular as a cult show. In the third year, though, we started to go a lot more mainstream and from there the programme just continued to go from strength to strength.”

Braidwood makes his debut as Frohike in the first-season episode E.B.E.written by Glen Morgan and James Wong. Hoping to expose a government coverup involving an extraterrestrial biological entity (E.B.E.) FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) turns to a threesome of conspiracy theorists, The Lone Gunmen, for help. These eclectic and eccentric individuals, John Fitzgerald Byers (Bruce Harwood), Ringo Langly (Dean Haglund) and Frohike, pride themselves on being able to obtain the unobtainable when it comes to classified information. It was a short but memorable job for the actor.

“It was fun meeting Bruce and Dean,” he recalls. “We seemed to hit it off immediately.  The three of us just kind of jumped right into it and I think the scene really speaks for itself.  We did it, had a lot of laughs and then moved on to the next thing.”

Originally, this scene was to be the first and last contribution The Lone Gunmen would ever make to X-Files history. Morgan and Wong had written the characters into the story primarily for comic relief and Morgan was not very pleased with the end result. The viewers, however, felt quite the opposite. They loved these paranoid protagonists and wanted to see more of them, so Braidwood and his two colleagues were invited back to reprise their roles.

“We were all surprised that our three characters received such a positive response from the fans,” says the actor. “I think part of the reason behind The Lone Gunmen’s popularity is simply because we area bit weird and out on the fringe. Here are three odd fellows who have found common ground with each other. Also, the fact that Bruce, Dean and I get on so well helps. I know, for example, that there’s this sense of bickering that’s been built into the characters, particularly between Langly and Frohike, but that’s just something we have fun doing as actors. Certainly, on a personal level, we’re close friends and the fact that we’re so in sync with our characters makes the job that much easier.”

Melvin Frohike has definitely come a long way since he uttered the immortal line, “She’s hot,” when first setting eyes on Mulder’s partner Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).  Thankfully, he has learned over the past five seasons how to express his fondness for the agent much more eloquently. During this time he has also proven himself a trusted and valuable ally in helping the agents in their search for the truth.

“I think he started off as being a little shy and somewhat of a loner as well as a bit lecherous,” laughs Braidwood. “As the show has grown so has the character, along with everyone else’s, of course, in becoming more a part of the fabric of the program. There’s a much stronger professional relationship between The Lone Gunmen and Scully and Mulder and also a friendship and respect that wasn’t as obvious early on in the show.”

Although The Lone Gunmen have so far turned up in fifteen episodes of The X-Files it is not until the fifth-season story Unusual Suspects that viewers finally learn how they met. “I thought it was so much fun to have a show actually written for our characters. It gave us the chance to really get into our roles much more seriously than we usually do. Normally, we just drop in for a scene or two and that’s that, but in this episode we are the featured players.

“One of the biggest inside jokes with this episode has to do with the actual filming,” he says. “They always design these shots where the three of us are in the frame. Because we are in so many scenes in this episode they had to figure out all these different ways of cramming us into the shot that worked technically and that also looked interesting.”

This story also marks the first time The Lone Gunmen come face-to-face with Mulder and Scully’s enigmatic benefactor, X (Steven Williams). “I had worked with Steven before on the series 21 Jump Street. I was as an assistant director on that program for three-and-a-half years and Steven was one of its regulars. He and I were old friends and it was terrific to finally work with him on The X-Files.

When his alter ego is not admiring Scully from afar or working with Byers and Langly to expose various government conspiracies, Braidwood has his responsibilities as the show’s first assistant director to keep him occupied. “Essentially, my job is to take the script and break down all its elements in terms of the actors, sets, props, etc.,” he explains. “You then sit down with the director and the heads of the various departments and discuss all the problems inherent to the particular story. From this you gather all your information and put it together into a schedule that will outline how to shoot the episode in eight days.

“You then take the schedule and do your best to organize it for the cast and crew in order for them to get the job done,” continues Braidwood. “So you’re really paid to be responsible for making sure that everyone’s time is being well spent, especially when it comes to David and Gillian. You have to try to keep their daily hours to a minimum when possible just because of the sheer amount of work they have to do.

“One of the toughest episodes we did was a second-season one, Dod Kalm, in which Mulder and Scully are suffering from dehydration and look as if they’re getting older and older. The problem with that show was that it called for David and Gillian to undergo a major makeup process. In some cases they ended up having to sit in the makeup chair for three to three-and-a-half hours and then they had to go to work on the set. So that one, along with the fourth-season episodes Tempus Fugit and Max, just because of the scenes aboard the airplane, were pretty challenging.

“It’s a difficult show for David and Gillian to do because it’s not really an ensemble piece,” he adds. “The show depends on the two of them so, again, they get the brunt of the work. To watch them carry it all through and support the series and keep on going is really something to their credit. They’re both really good to work with in different ways.”

Braidwood graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and four years later with a Master of Arts in film studies. In 1972 he joined the Tamahnous Theatre Workshop Group where he remained until 1978 working as a resident actor, writer, musician, director and technician. “Everyone eventually moved on to other things, so I decided to do the same and give film a try,” he says. “I had always been interested in that side of the profession, so I took the plunge and that’s where I’ve been ever since.”

Although he spends most of his time working behind the scenes, Braidwood is happy to take on the occasional acting job. He has appeared in the feature films My American Dream, The Portrait and Harry Tracy, Desperado as well as the made-for-television movie The Only Way Out. He has also guest-starred on such television series as Beachcombers, Mom P.I. and Grounds for Murder. The actor further enjoys having the opportunity to return to his theatre roots and counts a part he did back in the seventies as one of his most challenging roles to date.

“The play is called Liquid Gold. It’s set in a small coastal town in British Columbia [Canada] and is the story of a megalomaniac who has all the locals in the palm of his hand because his is the only place in town to shop. I played the shopkeeper,” he laughs. “It was a tough show to do – probably the biggest role I’ve ever had – but great fun as well as very rewarding.”

In 1984 the actor served as producer with writer Patricia Gruben to work on her independent Canadian feature film Low VisibilityThe project cost 166,000 Canadian dollars to complete and is a proud achievement for Braidwood. “We had to count on a lot of people to donate things,” he recalls. “Basically, we had the money to buy the film, process it and edit the thing – that was it. I enjoy working on independent projects such as these, though, because they’re always different and not commercially oriented. They’re usually personal films with personal visions so, in that regard, they give all those involved a wonderful sense of fulfillment.

“I think the challenge of getting something like this done is probably what I enjoy most about this business,” says Braidwood. “My roots are in the theatre, especially community theatre which is very people-driven. That same sense of teamwork is why I enjoy working on a television series so much. When you’re involved in a show for a long time, like The X-Files, for example, you get to know who wants to be there.  Those are the people you want to have around you because otherwise the job isn’t going to get done.”

When it comes to his career as a first assistant director Braidwood prefers to concentrate on television rather than film. Danger Bay, Mom P.I., 21 Jump Street and Wes Craven’s Nightmare Cafe are just a few of the shows on which he has worked. “I tend to like television series because you’re always doing something,” says Braidwood. “You just can’t afford to waste time; you’re on a tight schedule.”

Braidwood and X-Files costars Harwood and Haglund spent some time together in Los Angeles filming their scenes for the show’s big-screen feature which had its American release this past June. Unfortunately, now that production for The X-Files is based in Los Angeles, The Lone Gunmen will have to travel a bit further afield if they want to continue helping Mulder and Scully. How does Braidwood think the move will affect the show?

“One of the toughest things is going to be locations, so it’ll probably become more of an interior show,” he says.  “Vancouver [British Columbia] has such a variety of locations. You can get so many different looks within a half-hour or hour’s drive out of the city and I don’t think that’s the case in Los Angeles. [Series creator] Chris Carter has always said that Vancouver was one of the stars of The X-Files and I agree with him, it was. I mean, the lighting for the program and setting its mood can be done pretty much anywhere, but I think the whole location thing is going to drive them crazy. So we’ll just have to wait and see,” he muses.

As most fans of The X-Files know, Braidwood went on to co-star alongside Bruce Harwood and Dean Haglund for one season in their own spin-off series, The Lone Guman. Most recently, Braidwood appeared in the feature film Amazon Falls and served as associate producer on the 2009 short film Serum 1831.