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The X-Files Magazine: The Next Files

The X-Files Magazine [US]
The Next Files
Martin Eden

[typed by MarieEve]

Executive producer Frank Spotnitz chats to Martin Eden about the progress of Season Nine, Mulder/David Duchovny’s return, and the end of The X-Files.

Can you tell us how the decision to end the show came about ?

It was difficult and emotional for us, because we all love the show so much and it’s been our live for a very long period of time – eight years for me, 10 years for Chris (Carter). Chris, John (Shiban) and Vince (Gilligan) have all worked together for a long time, so it’s like breaking up a family.

The reality was that as much as we believe in the show, and we really do, the audience this year just wasn’t what we hoped it would be. I don’t think it’s a verdict on the show, or on Robert (Patrick) or Annabeth (Gish), because it was really from the first episode out of the gate – there was just a certain portion of viewers who didn’t show up. And at some point you need to decide : do you want to fade away and struggle against the ratings or do you want to try and go out strong?

Have you been checking out the online reaction to the news of the show’s cancellation ?

I’ve really learned over the years to take all the online chat with a huge grain of salt. I think it can be a distorted view of what fans are thinking and feeling. Over the last two years, there’s been a very vocal negative chorus on the internet which has been unpleasant to read. I have read it though, and I continue to read it because I want to know what people are thinking, but I have never for a moment thought it was representative of the audience at large. And now that the decision has been made to end the show, a lot of the same people who’ve been kicking us in the teeth online are shedding tears and I find it hard to take seriously.

I think a certain number of people will start to be sorrier when they realize that the show’s coming to an end, because there’s so much unexplored territory with Robert and Annabeth that really could have been explored for years to come.

I king of look forward to syndication. That’s where I believe we’ll have vindication, because so many of the show we’ve done over the last two or so years are outstanding and will really age very well.

Will we see Robert and Annabeth in the next X-Files movie ?

I don’t really know. We haven’t even started to talk about what the movie will be other than in the broadest possible terms. Whether they are or not, I really hope I get the chance to work with both of them again because they’re not only extremely talented actor, but they’re also extremely nice people and they’ve been great to work with.

What have been your favourite episodes of Season nine so far ?

I liked “4-D” an awful lot, and “John Doe” and “Trust No 1”. There’s some that are coming up that I think are gonna be highlights as well. Episode 12 sees the return of Leyla Harrison, the fan/agent, and it’s all about comparing Doggett and Reyes to Mulder and Scully, so it’s kind of a fun episode. That’s written by Tom Schnauz. Episode 13 is an episode called “Audrey Pawley” and it’s a very far-out idea for an episode. It’s really a kind of “Twilight Zone” sort of episode, but really emotional, powerful story for Doggett and Reyes. And then Chris Carter is writing and directing episode 14, and I think it’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before. It’s kind of unique in the way that “Post-Modern Prometheus” was unique. And then episode 15 is our kind of valedictory for the Lone Gunmen. We’re gonna bring back characters from their show and it’s really gonna be kind of summation of their nine years on The X-Files.

I was interested to see Terry O’Quinn return to The X-Files universe in “Trust No 1”. How did that come about ?

We couldn’t resist! He’s just one of our favourite actors. He can do no wrong in our eyes. We’d used him in Season Two’s “Aubrey” and we used him in Millennium and The X-Files movie and in Harsh Realm. We missed him and we wanted a chance to use him and we did it despite the fact that many, many people would recognize him, especially from The X-Files movie.

Is the Season Nine finale going to be a two-parter?

Yes. Chris Carter is going to be writing it.

I’ve heard it’s going to be a cliffhanger …

That’s not really true. Mulder and Scully will be left able to go on to do movies, but beyond that it’s not a cliffhanger. We’re still working on what that story’s gonna be, because we only decided last week to end the series this year. It will hopefully have a very big satisfying conclusion.

And will David Duchovny be reprising his Mulder role for the finale, as had been rumoured?

Yes. He wants to and we all want him to, and now it’s just a matter of making the deal and seeing if he’s available, because he’s got a movie career. The truth is we’d been talking to him about coming back to do some work on the show even before the decision. So the conversation sort of just changed direction once the announcement was made.

How do you feel Reyes character has been shaping up ?

Annabeth Gish is doing great job and I think the character is growing nicely. I think it’s been a challenge because she’s not one of those characters who came into the series with a full biography. People have had to discover over time who she is and what her past is. We’re slowly learning more about Monica Reye’s past, how she was raised, and her relationship to Doggett. Some of the episodes we’re writing now are gonna explore that more deeply. She’s one of those characters where the more you get to know her the more depth you realize she has and the more you like her.

Some of the theories she’s coming out with are more far-out than some of Mulder’s theories. Is that something that you had in mind from day one ?

Yeah. I think we’re always thought she’s a little looser, funnier, quirkier, more neurotic than Mulder was. We didn’t just want to have another Mulder, we didn’t just want to have another Mulder, we wanted a type of character we’d never seen before and we have quite an elaborate back-story worked out for her. Unfortunately I don’t know that we’ll ever get chance to find out what that was because this’ll be the last year of the show.

Is Reyes proving popular with the fans ?

I think she has a growing contingent of support, especially after the episode “4-D” was broadcast. People really saw what Annabeth Gish could do, and they saw a new side of this character too. But I think in the beginning certain people were scratching their heads, because they weren’t quite sure who she was. I also think you can’t ignore the fact that there was resistance from a lot of people to anyone coming in to the show after Mulder and Scully, and I think she’s really worn down a great deal of that resistance. I think by the end of the season people will love and miss her character greatly.

Has it been a different type of atmosphere on set with the new cast members ?

Oh sure, it’s been very different. It can’t help but be different when you bring in new actor and new characters. It’s also very exciting for us because when you do a series for a long period of time it becomes more and more difficult to find fresh things for actors and characters to experience, and suddenly with the addition of Robert last year and Annabeth a little bit last year we had this whole new range of possibilities and ideas and emotions and situations that we could play. So for all of us it was very exciting.

There’s also an interesting process between the writing staff and an actor. It’s like getting to know each other and saying “Oh wow, look how well he or she does that’ and then you start to write things in response. It’s like a conversation between the dailies and what you’re writing now. They’re both just terrific actors, and very different from David and Gillian, but just as appealing and talented in their own ways.

Finally, are thoughts now starting to turn toward the next movie ?

We had been offered the movie before the season had even begun, and we expressed an interest, but the deal has just been on hold because of everything that’s been on hold because of everything that’s been going on. But I think it will happen. I don’t think it will happen until 2003 at the earliest but I actually think it’s a good thing to get to the end of the series, to catch our breaths and recharge, and then come back and look at the movies franchise with fresh eyes and decide where we’re going.

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2 Responses to “The X-Files Magazine: The Next Files”

  1. […] In hindsight, Frank Spotnitz acknowledges that 4-D is an episode that worked very well for the character of Monica Reyes, serving to humanise and develop a character who had alienated a certain section of the fandom: […]

  2. […] To be fair, the only reason that the Shadow Man comes close to working is because the character is played by veteran performer Terry O’Quinn. Frank Spotnitz explained that he was just glad to have another opportunity to work with O’Quin…: […]