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The 11th Hour: Casting Quirks

The 11th Hour Web Magazine
Casting Quirks
War stories from the casting trenches of Hollywood.
by Julie Ng

[Original article here]

THE TV SHOW: The X-Files
THE PLAYERS: Callum Keith Rennie vs. Nicholas Lea
CASTING QUIRK: Giving Away the Role of Alex Krycek

Callum Keith Rennie

Remember the guy billed as ‘Tommy’ from the first season X-Files episode, “Lazarus”? Neither do I. But I do know and love Callum Keith Rennie for his lead roles in some of the best Canadian films made in recent years — Double Happiness, Curtis’s Charm, Hard Core Logo, Last Night… Don’t remember those either? Not surprised. Unfortunately, part of being loyal to the Canadian film industry means no one seeing your work except for your guest spots on Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (if based in Toronto) or on The X-Files (if in Vancouver). Nevertheless, Callum’s few lines as ‘Tommy’ made an impression on 1013 Productions. When the time came to cast the recurring role of double agent, Alex Krycek, Rennie was the first to be offered the role.

So what happened? Rennie flat-out turned it down. “The deal just wasn’t very good so it didn’t work out,” Rennie admitted to the Edmonton Journal. His focus was exclusively on pursuing a film career: “When you sign those [TV] deals you’re hooked up for a long time. If it works out you might get over-exposed and I really worry about that. I worry about being caught on a successful series. It’s like William Shatner, it’s like anybody who was on M*A*S*H. They’re doing dinner theatre.”

At the same time Rennie declined 1013’s offer, he suggested a local colleague who he felt would play a great Krycek — a guy called Nicholas Lea. The rest is history. Lea replaced Rennie and was an instant hit as the man that everybody loves to hate, and the only recurring character who has managed to survive seven years of Chris Carter’s Ain’t-it-fun-to-pointlessly-kill-people-off? tendencies.

Around the same time Lea was probably being crowned and exulted as ‘Ratboy’ by X-Files fans, Rennie was still accepting a bitty part billed as ‘Groundskeeper’ in the second season episode “Fresh Bones”! Now they say that opportunity rarely knocks twice, but it did again for Rennie in 1996 when he was offered to replace David Marciano, who played Benton Fraser’s (Paul Gross) partner Ray in the cult series Due South. Still not wanting to be tied down to a TV series, Rennie took his time giving his answer. One night after a few drinks at a bar, Gross asked him if whether he would ever make up his mind. “I said, ‘This is an important decision, so important, in fact, that we should flip a coin.’ So we did, and the show lost.” recalls Rennie, “I suggested that we go two out of three and I guess that convinced him that I wanted the job.”

Nicholas Lea

In the end, Callum Keith Rennie had to eat his words and joined the cast of a popular TV series. His character, Detective Stanley Kowalski, is easily the role he is most widely known for. He did however, sign a unique one-year deal for his stint on Due South. Either way, had the show been cancelled or not, he maintains the freedom to take roles in great movies that few people ever see. Meanwhile, some people might say that it’s Nicholas Lea who will forever be trapped on The X-Files — armless, sadly under-used, and poorly utilized as Mulder’s whipping boy.

Entertainment Weekly: Secrets and Lies

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.”




DreamWatch: Rat Poison

June 1998
DreamWatch #46
Rat Poison
David Hughes


NICHOLAS LEA waited more than a year for the comeback of Alex Krycek to THE X-FILES. But, as he tells David Hughes, it was well worth the wait…

When the latest X-FILES two-parter, “Patient X” and “The Red and the Black”- packaged for video as “File 11: Patient X” – hits the stores and Sky One screens simultaneously this month, fans of double-dealing former FBI agent Alex Krycek will get to see three new sides to their favourite character.

Firstly, television’s latest One-Armed Man gets to pay Mulder back for a series of beatings Krycek has suffered since gunning down Mulder’s father in his bathroom. “You finally get to see Krycek physically take advantage of Mulder, instead of always getting beat up,” comments Lea, relaxing in the backstage ‘green room’ at the very first X-FILES Expo event in San Francisco. “He gets to give him a little bit back – and with one hand, that’s quite a feat!”

Secondly, Krycek gets a different kind of action with Marita Covarrubias (Laurie Holden), Special Representative to the UN Secretary General. “When I picked up the script, I was like ‘What? Who am I kissing?’ he laughs. “I was excited about it because you’d never seen that side of the character before – he was almost asexual in those terms. Usually, you see Krycek show up and hurt somebody, or someone’s trying to hurt him.” As for the stormy, steamy kissing scene itself, Lea adds, “The night before, [Laurie and I] were saying, ‘Should we kiss now and get it over with, to break the ice?'”

Finally, and perhaps even more surprisingly, Krycek displays what Lea refers to as his “sympathetic side” in a scene with a Russian teenager – even though he has had the boy’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth sewn shut.

“I was trying to bring some sympathy to the thing, because on paper it wasn’t there,” he explains. “I just sort of dispatched this kid, and it was just very cold, so I called the producers and said, ‘Look, I think it’s very important that you see that there is some sympathy or regret on Krycek’s part.'”

Not only for himself, he adds, but for the audience as well. “It’s certainly more interesting for me as an actor, but I think it’s also more interesting for the audience to see three dimensional characters, rather than just a bad guy or a good guy.”

Luckily, he says , Chris Carter, who directed “The Red and the Black,” was willing to accommodate his ideas. “Chris is really accessible,” he says. “If you have questions, he’s always there to answer them, and he also took my notes to heart and used them.”

The character of Alex Krycek has certainly evolved dramatically since his first appearance as Mulder’s new partner in the second season’s “Sleepless.” Back then, he was a fresh-faced FBI agent who turned out to be Cigarette Smoking Man’s hired gun – albeit one with a conscience, as seen in the subsequent story, “Ascension.”

“It was originally supposed to be three episodes,” Lea recalls. “And it was scripted that there would be a big blow-out fight between myself and Mulder, and then my character would evaporate. But they rewrote it, and I just ended up disappearing, and I was really disappointed because I thought, ‘That’s it? That’s how they’re going to end my character?’ And then a short time later I was back on the show, and back on again, and back on again…”

By now christened ‘Ratboy’ by internet-based X-philes – “Do I like it? I live with it. No, I’m just kidding – I get a kick out of it.” – Krycek made one of his patented comebacks on the cusp of the 1995/96 season, gunning down Bill Mulder, but botching an attempted assassination of Scully by killing her sister instead – a particularly cruel error of judgement, since the popular character of Melissa Scully was played by Lea’s then-girlfriend, Melinda McGraw.

After being betrayed by Smoking Man at the climax of this story, Krycek went into hiding, re-emerging during the third season as a powerful and knowledgeable free agent, ready to sell his secrets to the highest bidder. Having deserted the sunken ship, Piper Maru, Ratboy returned in the fourth season’s “Tunguska”/”Terma” two-parter, offering an understandably distrustful Mulder information about the mysterious ‘black oil’ which had been smuggled into the country by a Russian diplomat.

By the end of this continent-spanning story, during which he revealed that he was a fluent (or perhaps native?) Russian speaker, Alex – or should that be Alexei? – Krycek had given a new meaning to the term ‘Soviet disarmament’, having his left arm cut off at the shoulder by a fellow ‘comrade’.

“So many bad things have happened to him now, I don’t think he trusts anybody at all,” Lea says. “I think the’ character’s not just trying to stay above water – he’s trying who wronged him in the past. so there’s a lot about revenge…”

Trust Ratboy to choose revenge rather than redemption. “Well, you’ll see in [“The Red and the Black”] that Krycek actually does some good,” he allows. “He comes to Mulder and he says, ‘I’m not here to kill you – I’m here to help you!’ Okay, he says it at gunpoint,” he adds, laughing, “But he still says it!”

For Lea, another high point “The Red and the Black” was getting to play a scene with Well-Manicured Man, played by veteran British actor John Neville (THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN). “‘John is an absolute gentleman, and a very funny guy, too,” he says. “It was nice, because we sat down in the bar one night, and then in my trailer on the day of shooting, and we talked for a couple of hours about what it was we were doing. It was nice to sit down and just talk about acting, especially with someone with his experience. That’s really nice, when there’s no barrier of age. It was a real treat. He loves acting and he loves actors, so he’s just great to be around.”

“Patient X” and “The Red and the Black” also gave Lea another opportunity to practice his Russian. “This is really the second time that I had to speak it,” he says. “if it continues, I’m probably going to have to take some lessons, and try to learn at least some of the language. I don’t speak it at all right now, so what I have to do is learn it phonetically, which is a real exercise in ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’- one side is the logical, ‘remembering- how-to-speak-it properly’ side, and [the other] is the creative side, which is where acting comes from. So you’re, trying to balance the two in the same moment, and it’s a real challenge.

“I think somebody who speaks the language is going to notice immediately that I’m not Russian,” he adds. “But my hope is that the majority of the people who watch the show will feel that it’s authentic.”

Krycek’s absence from THE X-FILES might have been an unusually long one, but Lea, who turns 36 on June 22, points out that if the opportunity had arisen before “Patient X,” he would probably have been too busy in his native Toronto, shooting ONCE A THIEF, the syndicated series in which he co-stars with Sandrine Holt (RAPA NUI) and newcomer Ivan Sergei. “I was dying to get back on THE X- FILES,” he admits, “But I was working [solidly] for the last eight months, with just a couple of breaks. [“Patient X”] really happened as soon as I left the other show, so I’m glad that it’s all worked out.”

Produced by Hong Kong auteur-turned-Hollywood action director John Woo (FACE/OFF), ONCE A THIEF began with a feature-length pilot, directed by Woo and loosely based on his own 1991 action/comedy starring Chow Yun Fat and Leslie Cheung, itself an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s TO CATCH A THIEF. But although the series, which Lea believes will debut the US on the Showtime network or HBO cable channel, will be Lea’s first leading role, he admits to being disappointed with the results. “It changed; it became a different show – much more of a comedy,” he says disconsolately, helping himself to another of the cigarettes he has been poaching since the interview began. “There are a few dramatic episodes, but mostly it’s meant to be funny.”

“Comedy and drama are both challenging to me,” he adds. “But…I think the show could have been better than it was.”

On the plus side, Lea says he was thrilled at having the chance to collaborate with Woo on the pilot show, released in Britain on video as JOHN WOO’S VIOLENT TRADITION. “I really had a wonderful time working with John,” he enthuses. “He’s a real gentleman and a talented man, and very much a contradiction in terms, because he’s quiet and reserved, warm, kind and thoughtful, and yet his movies are, like, ‘blow-’em-ups’ for the most part.”

Unfortunately, he reiterates, “he hasn’t been able to do exactly what he wanted to do. He had a lot of control over what his films were like in Hong Kong, and I think it was a bit of a rude awakening for him to find out that there were other people who were going to make those decisions for him.”

Indeed, Lea admits that Woo’s input on the show was “minimal” once a full series had been ordered, despite the fact that the show will be broadcast as JOHN WOO’S ONCE A THIEF. ‘I know he watched the show, and made notes, but for the most part it because somebody else’s show.”

Lea admits that his profile on THE X-FILES has been a boon in winning roles such as his ONCE A THIEF character. “Totally,” he agrees. “Certainly, when I walk into an audition, a lot of people already know who I am. It’s helped me immeasurably in my career, because quite often ratings come into play, and I’ll get offered stuff because they want to exploit an actor from television who the audience will recognise, you know?”

Does Lea worry that this visibility/recognition factor be something of a double-edged sword, and that he could wind up being typecast as double-crossing triple agents, assassins or even one-armed bandits? “Yeah, but that hasn’t been an issue at this point. I think that one of benefits of being on a critically acclaimed show is that people have an understanding that maybe you can act. You’re not just there because you’re on a popular show like BAYWATCH – you’re on a show that’s good, so hopefully you have some ability.”

Of course, with the higher profile comes celebrity, and its inherent loss of anonymity and privacy. Lea, however, doesn’t mind being recognised on the street – “People usually just want to tell me that they enjoy my role on the show, and that’s totally cool,” he says – but believes that X-FILES fandom is only healthy in moderation.

“I didn’t get into this business because I thought I’d be adored by thousands of fans, but because I love doing it. So when you’re approached by people who are this crazy about the show, people who go overboard with it…” he trails off, evidently searching for a way to describe his feelings without offending the show’s loyal fans. “I just think sometimes that the focus is a little misplaced,” he offers. “I would love to see everybody here take a third of that energy and put it into their family or their community, or the people on the street who need our help.”

True to form, Lea is equally candid on the subject of THE X-FILES’ imminent move to Los Angeles. “I think the show will lose something,” he says frankly. “They’ve worked for five years to accumulate the crew they’ve got now, and it’s like a well-oiled machine. People have fun but the job gets done. Plus Vancouver, as Chris has said in the past, is the perfect location for the show because of the rain, the way the sun has angled at particular times of the year, there’s forest, there’s a Chinatown, there are mountains, and prairie – it can really double as almost anyplace. So, I completely and utterly support David and Gillian’s decision to go to Los Angeles, but I think that Vancouver is the perfect location for the show.”

The X-Files Expo: Atlanta: Nick Lea

The X-Files Expo: Atlanta
Nick Lea Q&A

[Transcript of event. Original article here]

note: As I mentioned before, I missed some of the action on Saturday, but got all of it on Sunday. Still, in an attempt to give some semblance of order to this page, I list Saturday first. My own comments are usually in parenthesis, and direct quotes from Nick are in quotation marks.

Saturday’s Questions:

I missed some of Nick Lea’s session on Saturday (sorry — that was when I lost track of my husband and went on a search for him). I also had a harder time hearing some of the questions on both days, and I couldn’t write down the dialogue that took place when I was getting people to take the pictures for me. Here are some assorted questions (that I managed to jot down) from Saturday.

After Nick came out on stage, he sat and talked about getting his part for a while. Basically, he got the small part in “Genderbender” and became friends with Producer/Director Rob Bowman. Later, when the part of Krycek was being cast, Rob Bowman kept pushing for Nick. The powers-that-be auditioned about 30 guys in LA, then came out to Vancouver and ended up giving Nick the part. Rob Bowman takes credit for Nick’s current career, and Nick gives him a dollar every time he sees him. Lea says that the day he got the part of Krycek was the most exciting day of his life. His girlfriend at the time (Melinda McGraw – who plays Melissa Scully) was working out at a gym. Lea got the news, ran down the street, and burst into the gym shouting “I got it! I got it!”. He went on to heavily compliment the show, explaining how grateful he is to get to work with people with integrity, brains, and talent. He talked about how this show has sent him around the globe. He talked about getting beat up almost weekly (big audience cheer here). He says that opening a script is like opening a Christmas present, because you never know what is going to be in it. He said that the role of Krycek has been a dream come true!

(note: I missed some stuff here)

Well, the first questions I heard were rather lame (I’m sure they were great for the people asking them, but they were lame for the rest of us). One girl wanted Lea’s water bottle, another one propositioned him, claiming she wanted to go out with him. I do believe he gave the first girl the water bottle, and politely told the second one that he had a girlfriend. NEXT!

What was it like to kiss David Duchovny?
“Excellent” (big pause, big grin, lots of whoops from the audience). He goes on to explain that in the original script the kiss was there and that both David D. and Nick thought it was hilarious and a great idea! He said that he and David are very close and hang out a lot (the audience broke in here shouting “woooooooo”, to which Nick replies “we’re closer now — the kiss was a big ice breaker for us” (another big audience reaction). He went on to say that he and David D. love working together and that they are usually fighting, which is a lot of fun. Then the scene was almost cut due to the difficulty in holding a gun on Mulder with Krycek’s one good arm and whatnot. Because they liked the idea of the kiss so much, they expressly rearranged the scene to leave the kiss in. Nick says that they were laughing so hard throughout the whole thing they almost couldn’t do the scene. Nick said he would just look at David, and David would start snickering. Chris Carter was off camera trying hard not to laugh as well. They also kept reshooting the scene because Nick was kissing David on the cheek, but for the kiss to be on camera the kiss had to be closer to the front of David’s face, so Chris kept yelling “Kiss him closer to the mouth!”

Someone asked Nick who his favorite musician/band was (I didn’t really hear the question). Nick replied “Probably James Taylor”, then added that his tastes run across the board. He said that he has seen Ray Charles 3 times, he’s a Tony Bennett fan, James Taylor, Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin, and on and on. The person who asked the questions then began singing for Nick (she had a good voice too). Nick complimented her and told her that he would add her to his list.

Someone asked him how he got out of the missile silo (I was really having a hard time hearing at this point). Nick said that a scene that was cut from one of the episodes showed where the militia guys found and rescued him. The cut scene was later explained in the episode “Tunguska”. Nick went on to explain that one of the main things he likes about his character is the fact that he’s not totally good and he not totally bad, and Nick hopes that the character never becomes totally clear — he likes him jumping between both sides.

Exactly why did Krycek kiss Mulder? (slightly different than the earlier question)
“It’s a Russian thing”, Lea replied. It is also kinda like a ** you (I was looking at my notes, so I don’t know whether he really made a hand gesture or not). He also thinks that it was a good luck thing — something like I wish you good luck, I don’t trust you, I have some respect for you, I wish you luck, and I’ll be behind you so watch your back. “I’ll be there making your life hell, so don’t forget about me”. Nick also said he wanted to keep the kiss in the scene because he knew that it would cause a huge fan reaction (he’s a little devil, isn’t he?).

Do you like David or Gillian better?
Nick replied that he has really only worked with Gillian twice, although he sees her all the time. (A baby let out a wail somewhere in here — to which Nick replied that obviously the baby doesn’t like Krycek). He and David usually work together and that’s how they forged their friendship together. He went on about how he is much closer to David (with a few “woooo”‘s from the audience). At the end, Nick said that he doesn’t like either one of them, he just knows David better (then did add that David was a very good friend of his).

What was it like hanging from Skinner’s balcony?
“Scary. Really, really scary”. They called him and asked if he would be willing to do the stunt, and Nick said “Sure!”. Nick said that he totally trusted the special effects people and that they are complete professionals, so he didn’t think he would be afraid. He explained that the original idea was to have him standing on a platform and they would shoot at an angle to hide it, but Nick suggested to actually hang him there so the scene would be more exciting. He went on to say he was somewhat disappointed in the final scene because it didn’t show his true height well enough. He said that doing the scene was “absolutely terrifying”. The day was windy and raining and he really was hanging by one arm. All together, he said that filming it was fun but scary. Nick also said that when he first met John Neville (who plays the Well-Manicured Man), Neville said that he had heard that Nick Lea would do anything.

At this point, another audience member said that she would be willing to pose some competition for Nick’s girlfriend. She gave out her name and telephone number (no I didn’t write it down), to which Nick replied “All right! Atlanta’s been very good to me”.

The next girl asked for a hug, and Nick politely told her that he wasn’t supposed to do that because it disrupts the question & answer process, but he did hug her anyway. He then joked around, asking what would have happened if she tripped and fell on the way to the stage. Would she sue him? Would the media turn it into a “X-Files actor beats up fan” type headline?

Were you really speaking Russian? Was it hard to learn?
Nick replied that he doesn’t speak Russian and that learning the lines was a really hard thing to do. He said that speaking the language and getting the accent was not really that hard for him, but attempting to act at the same time made it difficult because you are using the creative side to act and the logical side to recite lines that really don’t mean anything to you. He also said that it is easy to get lost when carrying on a conversation with a person who is speaking Russian back to you. Apparently a person who taught Russian studies had told Lea that he had done a really great job, and that boosted his confidence a bit.

A person got up and stated something like “we hate to love and we love to hate you”. She then asked what is next for Krycek, a lobotomy?
Nick replied that he wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. He said that when they called and asked him what he thought about them cutting Krycek’s arm off, he was absolutely for it. “The more that happens to this character, the better”. He said that when he started on as Krycek in “Sleepless”, he had really short hair and a really bad suit, and that he was very straight — then as the character progressed we saw big changes in the role, both physically and mentally. Now that he has lost an arm, the world is a different place for him. He said something about not trusting anyone anymore, then about how he tried to trust Covarrubias, but she “screwed” him (big audience reaction). He said “My choice of words is awful today!”.

A small child asked Why did they cut Krycek’s arm off
Nick explained the episode to her, going into detail about how the Russian government was using the smallpox vaccination scars to tag people, and how the Russian people had figured out that if they didn’t have their arms they weren’t used in the tests. He told her that the men were just trying to help him by cutting his arm off. Lea then went on to tell us about how they filmed the scene in a park called Stanley Park in Vancouver on a miserably rainy night. He was lying on his back with 6 guys on top of him, screaming his head off. He then commented about how the X-Files causes him to do wildly different things each time he appears.

Do you think anything about Krycek should change?
Nick responded that he would like to see more of why Krycek does what he does. He would like to do a “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” type episode.

(I missed some questions through here in an attempt to get some pictures)

Who is the toughest?
Nick replied that he wouldn’t want to get on Skinner’s bad side, but then Nick added that Skinner likes his sucker punches too — at least Krycek comes straight at you! (note: Pileggi responds to this question during his Q&A; session).

The next audience member commented that she thought the X-Files actors were probably the smartest batch of actors on television, then asked Who choreographed the Covarrubias/Krycek hook-up, and did he have any input?
Nick replied “I did!”. He then went on to say that he was proud to tell us that he suggested the scene as it was shot. The script was written with Covarrubias saying her line about Krycek thinking he could get away with it, but then she breaks into a big smile, followed by a hug. Lea thought it would be better to string the audience along for a bit longer and make them wonder exactly what he was going to do to her. He commented that this was a big moment, since no two supporting characters had ever “made-out”, so they liked drawing the scene out and adding the suspense to it. Later, Nick addressed the “smart” comment — adding that part of what makes Mulder & Scully so good is that they are played by two such highly intelligent actors. He claimed that David is misunderstood, that he has a huge heart, that he is a poet at heart, that he writes very good poetry, and that David is trying very hard to maintain a semi-normal life in the midst of the X-Files popularity. He went on further about how both David and Gillian are very, very, very smart actors.

Is it true that your girlfriend was Melinda McGraw?
How did it feel to shoot her?
“Well secretly it was excellent”. Nick went on to explain that he is not seeing Melinda anymore, but she is really smart and a really great actress. He said that she had no problems doing the stunt, but it was uncomfortable for Nick. He kept asking her if she needed a pillow to fall on. He then made the comment “Who else gets to kill their girlfriend on national television — not that killing your girlfriend is a good thing”.

Will we be seeing any Nick Lea nude scenes in the upcoming movie?
“Not with me”. Nick then attempted to change the subject about how smart David and Gillian are (see question above). I believe a member of the audience prodded him to answer the question. Nick admitted that he is actually not in the movie. Early on there were different drafts of the script floating around, and he was in some, not in others, etc. When they finally selected the script they told Nick that his part in the movie was more of a token part, and that maybe it would be better to save him for the next movie.

The next person asked what Lea had meant when he said “next movie”. Lea said that he had been talking to Chris the other day, and Chris had said that if the current movie did even marginally well they would do another one.

At what point did you decide to become an actor, and what was your first big break?
He had always wanted to be an actor, but there was no film business in Vancouver when he was young. He went to art school for 2 years to become an illustrator. Then he played in a band.

Sorry guys — I quit writing stuff for some reason here!

Sunday’s Questions:

The first person who made it to the microphone began by stating that he loved Nick — hated the character but liked Nick, to which Nick replied “Why do you hate the character?” The guy answered “He’s a creep”, to which Nick replied “Why is he a creep?” “He kills people”. “Who?” Lea asked. The guy responded that Krycek lies and he killed Mulder’s dad. “How do you know?” Lea asked, prompting the crowd to cheer madly. Lea went on to ask how did we know Krycek wasn’t there to save him. This went on for a while and was rather cute, with the audience guy trying to get Nick to admit that he something bad to Mulder’s dad, but Nick never would. Nick reminded everyone that he was there when Melissa Scully was shot, but he didn’t pull the trigger, and finished up by declaring that he will defend the Krycek character to the end.

Next a question was asked about Nick’s character on the first season finale of Sliders and whether or not it was to be a recurring role. Nick responded that there was some thought of adding his character to the case of Sliders, but when the second season started the powers-that-be decided that they wanted to start fresh and not continue some of the story-lines introduced in the previous season, including Lea’s character.

Will the move to LA affect the screen-time Krycek gets next season?
Lea announced that Krycek’s screen-time will actually increase. The audience member asked “How so?”, and Lea responded that he had just signed a contract with them guaranteeing that the character would appear in a certain number of episodes each year (big cheer from the audience). Lea says that he feels that he has been rewarded for his loyalty to the show.

How good a kisser is Marita Covarrubias and how many retakes did he make them do?
Lea responded that she is actually a very good kisser. He then told the story about them knocking teeth at the rehearsal (he says because they were so ready to “go at it”). He said he opened the script, read it, and said “I’ve gotta do what?” He said one rehearsal meeting with her was awkward because they were wondering whether they should attempt to kiss then just to get it behind them. They decided to save it until they were in front of the cameras. The rest of what he said is pretty much the same as yesterday’s similar question, except when he mentioned that he can’t think of any other jobs where you are required to kiss people that you don’t know very well — except maybe prostitution.

I couldn’t hear the questions very well, but it had something to do with working on John Woo’s series “Once a Thief”. Lea replied that he took the job because he wanted to increase his responsibility on a show and see what it was like to be a leading man. He told a story about when he was doing the final audition for the network executives, and he very nervous about the audition. Lea saw Woo walk by with a large group of people, but then Woo stopped, waved the rest of the people on, walked back to Nick, put his arm around him, and said told him that he was a good actor, and that the show would be fine. Nick said that took a lot of the pressure off of him and made him feel better. Nick also said that the show would have done better if the network hadn’t put so many restrictions on Woo.

Another questions I couldn’t hear very well had to do with Nick’s character on the Highlander series. Nick said that he loved working on that show because his character was funny, and he doesn’t get to play many comedic roles. He said that the Highlander series is a fun show to work on, and that it takes a lot of imagination to play the roles.

Is Krycek going to lose any more body parts?
Not to his knowledge, but you never know. He started to say something, then stopped himself, saying that there were just too many joke opportunities there but he wasn’t going to go for it.

Someone asked if he thinks Krycek has had his own agenda. Lea says that in the beginning he was fresh out of the academy and was just following orders. Lea figures that Krycek was probably a very smart guy who graduated at the top of his class and was hand-picked by Cancerman to do his bidding. Lea also thinks that so many people have done so many bad things to Krycek, that now one of his motivations is revenge, as well as a quest for power. He may also honestly want to stop the alien invasion as presented in “The Red and the Black”. Lea thinks that a lot more will be revealed about Krycek as the series progresses, but he admits that he doesn’t know what is in the future, and that nobody really knows yet.

A girl then asked a rather silly question concerning a rumor that Lea had played a character other than Krycek earlier in the series. Lea said that that was what he had been talking about earlier when he first appeared on stage (this was probably the only really bad question asked on Sunday).

Another girl asked a question about the X-Files-ish episode of “Once a Thief” that aired last month. Unfortunately, Lea wasn’t able to hear her question, and didn’t understand what she was asking (he thought she was asking about an X-Files parody episode, and he said he was always in the serious X-Files episodes, not the funny ones).

What was the meaning behind the episode title “The Red and the Black”?
Lea admitted that he had no idea. He says that he doesn’t understand half of the titles, and that so many of them are in different languages he doesn’t try to figure them out anymore.

The next person up requested that Lea speak some Russian for us, and Nick kindly obliged. Nick went on to explain how he approached learning his lines in Russian (a bit of rehashing from Saturday’s similar question). He says it is odd to be speaking his lines and not really understand what you are saying.

How did you get out of the missile silo.
Same response as yesterday — just scroll back up and re-read it.:) The kid also asked a question about Krycek puking up the black oil-alien, so Lea explained a bit about how the oilien works (nothing you couldn’t get from the episode).

With Krycek’s character being “radiated & mutilated” so often, does Nick find it affecting him when he’s not working? Does he have dreams about the abuse? How does his brain let go of the violence?
Nick responded that he is usually exhausted after a day of shooting because it is so physical. If he is not physically tired, he is mentally tired because the X-Files is a show where you must give your all (because everyone else is too). He talked about the fight scene he and David choreographed together in “Anasazi”.

What is the strangest thing you ever autographed?
He autographed a box of Cheesitz yesterday, as well as a fake hand. He said that he has autographed a few breasts (then he explained that it was innocent enough). Then he decided that the chair he autographed yesterday was probably the strangest thing (personally, my vote is for the fake hand — that was a cool idea).

Who’s idea was the kiss between Mulder & Krycek
Nick said that it was Chris’s idea, and said many of the things he said after yesterday’s similar question, reiterating that he thinks it took 17 takes because they were all laughing so hard. He said that he thinks a Judas kiss is probably a good way to describe it, although he does think that Krycek has respect for Mulder. He says that the kiss was “cheeky”, with no pun intended.

Is it hard to act like you are missing an arm
Nick explained that he came up with the idea of the surgeon’s glove, painted with makeup, that he wears on his hand. He also said that they put a cast on his arm each day to keep him from attempting to move it. He did say that it is hard to act with one arm frozen — you want to express yourself with your hands while you speak but you can’t.

A fan got up and said that she collects trivia that no one else reports on, and asked if anyone on the cast smokes. Lea offered that the Cigarette Smoking Man actually does not smoke, then said that yes, some cast members do smoke, but that he wasn’t going to tell us which ones.

Where was the party last night?
They went to dinner, and then they went to the “Leopard Lounge”. He also said that one of the backstage assistants was feeding them tequila, which is why he and Mitch were not feeling good today.

That concluded Nick’s Q&A; session. He did say that they all had a wonderful time in Atlanta, and he apologized that they couldn’t spend more time with us as we were going through the autograph line.

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.

Scarlet Street: Inside The X-Files: Nicholas Lea

Spring 1997
interviewed by Danny Savello

As double-dealing agent Alex Krycek, handsome Nicholas Lea has become one of a select band of recurring X-FILES characters whose appearances are eagerly awaited by hard-core fans of the show. Lea first showed up in the episode “Gender Bender” not as Mulder and Scully’s nemesis but as a horny young man involved in a threesome — with only one other person! That landed him the role of sly, conniving Krycek, who began his treacherous career as Cancer Man’s strong right arm and most recently lost an arm in Russia. SCARLET STREET recently tracked down the elusive Krycek — and the not-so-elusive Mr. Lea — for this exclusive interview.

SCARLET STREET: You didn’t originally plan to be an actor.

NICHOLAS LEA: Well, let’s put it this way: I’d always wanted to be an actor, but it took me a long time to get there. I was in art school for two years, and I sang in a band for about five. Then I met an acting coach, I quit my job the next day, and I started studying. But I’d always been in loved with actors and actresses and movies. My friends would be going out and I’d stay home to watch movies.

SS: Before THE X-FILES, were you in any other series?

NL: Yeah, I did about two-and-a-half years recurring on a show called THE COMMISH. I’ve done some fairly low-budget films in Canada and a lot of series stuff. I did LONESOME DOVE; I did SLIDERS and HIGHLANDER.

SS: You actually made your first X-FILES appearance as an altogether different character in the “Gender Bender” episode.

NL: Exactly. I did the first episode as a sort of guest star. Rob Bowman, who was directing the show, really liked what I did and, when it came time to cast Krycek, Rob really pushed for me strongly. They saw about 30 guys in Los Angeles and I was the only guy they saw in Vancouver, so it was a great experience for me. It was a very nerve-racking experience, because there was Chris Carter and all the producers. My girlfriend was working out down the street. I went running down the street to the gym, found her on the second level, and yelled, “I got it!” Everybody turned and stared! It was great! So it was Rob Bowman who gave me my big break and every time I see him I give him a dollar. (Laughs.)

SS: You had to walk a fine line in your “Gender Bender” performance after the alien shifted from female to mail in the car. Was it very difficult to convey your character’s emotional distress without making him appear homophobic to gay viewers?

NL: You know, that was never an issue to me; I never thought of the homophobic ramifications of it. I suppose some people could say, “That guy freaked out because he thought it was a man.” But, he didn’t freak out because he’s making out with a girl and then found out it’s a guy; he freaked out because she changed directly in front of him. It was also an interesting angle, that the guy was so very macho and then he’s lying in a hospital bed scared out of his life. Really, it was more important to me to play a guy who’s terrified. I try to be responsible about the things I do, so that I don’t have to worry about choices — are they right or wrong, are they gonna offend anybody? It’s actually one of the scenes I’m most proud of that I’ve done.

SS: At the very beginning, we knew very little about Alex Krycek’s background. Did you create one for him?

NL: Yes, I did. They’re such great writers that there’s not a lot of work. What I tried to inject into it was the guy is young and in way over his head. I made the decision that he came from a military background; his father was in the military and he was trying very, very hard to fill up some big shoes. I can draw on my own life about my relationship with my own father, and how you’re constantly trying to live up to somebody’s image of what they think you should be. Krycek doesn’t know he’s being bad; he’s just trying to get ahead and trying to please all those people in his past. He’s just doing what he’s doing to survive.

SS: Do you have a favorite Krycek moment?

NL: There’s a scene in “Ascension,” where Mulder is going up the tram and Krycek tries to kill him. The way it was originally written was that I bring up my gun and whack the tram operator. You see the guy get knocked over instantly and the camera cuts to the gondola. What I decided to do was whack him and then shake it off and fix my hair a little bit. I thought it would say a little something about Krycek, that he was trying to keep himself together and that he was very cool. They kept it in and I was really happy about that. It tells me that my instincts are right.

SS: You’ve gotten some fairly unflattering nicknames from fans — in particular, Rat Boy.

NL: Oh, well, I think it’s great, actually — though I must say, it’s a little daunting still being called “boy” at 33. But it means people are watching it and enjoying it and that’s the important thing. Dave Duchovny is Special K.

SS: At least the name hasn’t turned up in the show itself. Speaking of cast members with memorable nicknames, what is it like working with William Davis, who is better known to devoted X-Philes as Cancer Man?

NL: Bill is a great guy. He’s so different than you see him on television. He’s extremely soft spoken and very funny, actually. Everybody’s great. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Mitch Pileggi because we went over to England to do some promotion for the show. We’ve become friends since the show started, anyway, but now we get to travel and do all these great things together. It’s a real treat. Doing an episode is like going home to see your family, because now I live in Los Angeles and whenever I go back to do the show I get to go to my hometown and see my friends.

SS: So then, who says you can’t go home again?

NL: And it not just my friends. I really look forward to seeing David and Gillian and the producers and crew; it’s a real treat and it’s just fun. As an actor, you hope you can work on a show that you’re proud of, so I”m really fortunate that I’m involved in THE X-FILES.

SS: The inevitable question about life on other planets: do you believe that we are not alone?

NL: Oh, yes, absolutely! I think it would be egotistical to believe that there isn’t more intelligent life out there. I to believe it, because it gives me some hope as well. Things aren’t exactly going swimmingly well on this planet. So it would be nice to know there’s something else out there.

SS: Can you tell us what’s in store for Krycek or would Carter have your head — that is, in addition to already taking one of your arms?

NL: Carter would have my head! (Laughs)

Caption under one of the photos: “Nicholas Lea has become so well known by the name X-Philes have christened him — Rat Boy — that he’d be Hollywood’s top choice should they ever decide to remake WILLARD.”