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X-Posé: Nicholas Lea Profile

X-Posé Special #1
Nicholas Lea Profile
By Jesse James Garrett

He’s the bad guy X-Files fans love to hate. Alex Krycek has at various times been an ally to Agent Mulder, a pawn of the conspiracy, a free agent selling gorvernment secrets to the highest bidders, and a spy for the KGB. Throughout, he has displayed the same self-serving duplicity that has made him one of the show’s most popular villiains. Credit for the enduring appeal of Krycek must be given to actor Nicholas Lea, who defied the odds in more ways than one to land this juicy part.

Nic, as he prefers to be called, was born near Vancouver on June 22, 1962. He has spent most of his life in his hometown, with the exception of some time as a young man spent in the Canadian Navy. He attended art school in Vancouver in preparation for a career as a professional illustrator, but his long time fascination with performing kept pulling him away from a more traditional career.

For five years, Nic played guitar and sang as the frontman for the Vancouver “alternative rock” band Beau Monde. But a chance meeting led to an acting line of work. The next day, he quit his day job in a local clothing shop and enrolled in acting school.

His timing couldn’t have been better. Vancouver was rapidly becoming a hotbed of film and television production, and Nic’s boyish good looks naturally made him appealing to casting directors looking for local talent. His first major role, in the 1983 biography of model Dorothy Stratten, Star 80, ended up being cut from the film. Undeterred, Nic took a few more small parts in TV shows and films before landing the job he would later describe as his real acting training.

From 1991 to 1994, Nic played the recurring role of Officer Ricky Caruso on the cop show The Commish. On the set of that show, he met Melinda McGraw, whom he dated for several years. (MacGraw would later appear in several episodes of TheX-Files as Agent Scully’s sister Melissa – that is, until she was killed by the nefarious Krycek.)

Nic’s first appearence on The X-Files was not in the role of Alex Krycek. He appeared briefly as a night club patron victimized by an alien who shifts from female to male in the first season episode Genderbender. Nic’s performance in that episode made such an impression on director Rob Bowman that when series creator Chris Carter was casting the role of Krycek for a three-episode stint the following season, Bowman recommended Nick for the part.

Carter was hesitant. Major roles were usually cast by the producers in Los Angelese, with Vancouver actors being brought in only for much smaller parts. But Carter had been unsatisfied with the actors who had read for the part so far, and he agreed to let Nic audition. Nic’s audition went so well he was offered the part that very same day.

Nic infused Krycek with little mannerisms that made thecharacter so eminently despicable. He was an immediate hit with the fans,who nicknamed him “Ratboy” and clamored for his return. Carter obliged, putting Krycek on the run from both the FBI and the conspiracy in the second-season finale, “Anasazi.” Krycek has becomep erhaps the most physically demanding role in the X-Files pantheon, as Nic has had to dangle from balconies, dodge explosions, and take numerous beatings from Agent Mulder over the last three years.

It’s been good practice for Nic, who takes on a new challenge this fall starring in the syndicated action series Once A Thief, based on the TV movie he filmed last year with acclaimed director John Woo. But X-Files fans need not worry that Nic’s new status as a leading man will take him away from the role that made him popular – the show’s producers have promised that Alex Krycek will soon be back to his old back-stabbing, double-crossing ways.

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