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  • Feature: The X-Files Creator and Cast

    Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:08:11

    Feature: The X-Files Creator and Cast - The quartet behind <i>The X-Files: I Want to Believe</i> finally speaks about the highly-anticipated film

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    During the critics’ screening of the long-anticipated sequel to the original X-Files movie, a cheeky audience member inevitably started whistling the series’ theme song. Provided that the room was filled with many an X-Files devotee, the move was practically a fan dictate. Those who followed the exploits of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) on the immensely popular Fox show have waited 10 years for a filmic follow up, and this Friday, July 25, their yen for the duo's brand of slick sleuthing will be fulfilled with the release of The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Since news of the project surfaced, details concerning the movie’s plot line have been concealed with care, so theatergoers will likely walk into the viewing experience with not a clue what to expect. Series creator Chris Carter, screenwriter Frank Spotnitz, and its two principals wouldn’t have it any other way. Speaking for the first time about the film at Beverly Hills’ Four Seasons hotel last weekend, the quartet exuded noticeable enthusiasm for the passion project, and they await fans’ reactions upon release. While we suggest that you huddle into the cinema virtually blind of plot knowledge, we’re happy to share highlights from Saturday’s talk below. (Don't worry, there's not a spoiler in sight.)

    Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz

    On why it took such a long time between X-Files films:

    Chris Carter: Fox came to us a year after the X-Files TV series ended and said, “Do you want to make a movie? Let's go,” and we went. We got a story and that story they liked and negotiations began. Then it broke down to TV contractual problems which took, unexpectedly, years to resolve. It's the nature of the business. When it was finally resolved, they called again and they said, “If you want to do that movie we can still do it, but you've got to do it now. It's now or never. There's a writer's strike blooming, and if you don't do it now it might be two years before you get another opportunity.”

    On why they chose a “non-mythological” storyline for the film:

    CC: If you look at The X-Files generally, we did 202 episodes. A percentage of them are not mythological episodes. They deal with the big conspiracy, they deal with Mulder's sister, the search for Mulder's sister, they deal with what I would call the saga of The X-Files. When we finished the first movie we said the next movie we're going to do is going to be a story that stands alone. We wanted to do a story that didn't require you to have any knowledge of [the show’s] ongoing story arc. So that's simply why we chose to do a story like this.

    Frank Spotnitz: We actually came up with the “X-File” for this in 2003, and then we went away for four years and came back and lost our notes, so we had to start over. Plus, we remembered a lot of it. In the process of starting over, we found ourselves so interested in where Mulder and Scully were in their lives, and we realized that to be true to the characters, that [the] relationship could not have stood still. It had to change. We saw it much more emotional than we did immediately after the show ended. I think after seeing the movie you realize it's an unexpected emotional film. So that was just the story that came out, the story we really wanted to tell.

    On deciding which series characters would show up in the film:

    FS: We wanted to make this as pure a movie as we could. Mulder and Scully are the essence of The X-Files. I spoke earlier about their emotional relationship and returning to the story after such a long absence. The more characters you bring in from the past, the more explaining you have to do and the more it gets wrapped up in the mythology of the show. So in this movie we wanted to keep it as simple as we possibly could. There were many more characters that we talked about that we would've loved to have brought back in this movie. There wasn't room. It wasn't lack of affection or anything.

    On how Gillian and David were involved in their characters’ stories in the film:

    CC: We told them what were going to do. They agreed that [was] the right thing to do after 16 years of this relationship…You can imagine it was hard five years later. They've both been playing so many other characters. You see Gillian in Bleak House and you think about how different that character was, and you see David in Californication. They had not been Mulder and Scully for a while, so putting those clothes back on and feeling the fit of the shoes, the uniform if you will, was naturally going to take an effort. It was not dissimilar for Frank and myself in writing this script.

    On reflecting back on the final years of the television series:

    CC: Let me tell you, after five years of the show, it gets hard. Any show gets hard. But I have to say, that’s where the going gets tough and the tough get going. Actually, some of the best storytelling came in the last four years of the show, I would say, because we hit our stride. We had to deal with some changes when David left the show…I think I’m glad we went nine years. One of my favorite writers is Robert Graves and he talks about an energy that creates something, which is that impulse of lightning, that creative spark. Everyone loves that part of it and they love the thing that results, which is more creativity. There’s something—it’s called “maintenance energy”—and that’s where you have to actually then take something and maintain it and feed it and care for it and nurture it and freshen it, and that energy is one of the toughest things to find. If you can find it and you can work through it, I think that’s where the real hidden treasures lie.

    David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

    On reprising their roles after such a long time:

    David Duchovny : Gillian and I started working after Christmas break, and the first two weeks I was a little awkward. I didn’t really feel like I wanted to do longer scenes. I was just fine running around [prior to Christmas with actor Callum Rennie]. And then, as soon as Gillian and I started working and it was Mulder and Scully, then I kind of remembered what it was all about. That relationship kind of anchored my performance, just as I think the relationship anchors this film.

    Gillian Anderson: I had a similar experience. I didn’t have all the running around that David had to do, but I did have my own unfortunate beginning, which was to start with one of the most difficult scenes for Scully in the film…I had a really hard time just finding her, finding her voice. I think I must’ve gone through 10 other characters in the process of trying to get to her, when I assumed that on the first day I’d be able to show up and it would just be there. It wasn’t until, I think, day three when we got to work together…and it kind of felt natural and familiar. Then I felt like I’d landed for the first time.

    On why they decided to do a film sequel:

    DD: My coming back was not based on the script. At this point, you know, I have almost complete blind trust in Chris and Frank to come up with the goods, so my only concern was that it should be a stand alone [film]. I didn’t think it should be something that you needed specific knowledge of The X-Files to enjoy, and when I read the script I saw that it was that. Other than that, I had no hopes or plans for what this would be. I just know the world that we made and the world that Chris and Frank would remake was going to be satisfying to me.

    GA: I’d stated my interest in being onboard some time ago as well, and by the time I read the script it was kind of a given that this was something that we were going to do.

    On David exiting the show and his enthusiasm for I Want to Believe:

    DD: I wouldn’t characterize me as the one who wanted to get [the sequel] going, but I’m certainly somebody who would always say “yes” whenever Chris and I would talk about it. The love/hate [relationship with The X-Files series] had nothing to do with the actual content, the actual people, the actual anything. Love/hate had to do with me wanting to get on with the rest of my life, the rest of my career, you know? I did eight years and Gillian did nine. That’s a lifetime, and there are no other dramas that keep the same characters that run that long…It’s just natural to burn out. There was always love for the show and love for the character. There was never any hate for that.

    On working in Canada’s severe weather conditions:

    DD: Let me try and say this in a way that just in quotation marks is going to get me in trouble: I had to work in one of the most beautiful ski resorts in the world for almost three weeks. Pity me. [Laughter] I think it’s hard. The logistics of it is, if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, you’re running around in the freezing rain and the snow, you don’t get a chance to go off and warm up in your trailer because you’re seeing so much. Your trailer is on the other side of town, so you are stuck in clothes that aren’t fitting for the environment for a long time. So, yeah, it’s a pain in the ass, but you just suck it up. You know it’s not going to be that long [that] your feet are cold. Your ass is cold. Your hands are cold. Your muscles are cold. But, you know, you suck it up.

    GA: I think one of the more physically challenging aspects for me at the time, [was] that there were scenes where we had quite a lot of dialogue, and when you’re in that kind of weather and the wind is slightly blowing and the snow is coming down, your lips, actually, they do freeze. There were a couple of times that were reminiscent of the pilot. There was a scene in the pilot where we’re in pouring forest rain that’s freezing and I’m screeching at [David] about something or another and it felt kind of like that…What was reminiscent was the fact that my mouth wouldn’t work.

    On the secret to their chemistry as Mulder and Scully:

    DD: Maybe just luck in the beginning. After this long we actually do have a history, so when I look over at Gillian, or I’m Mulder looking over at Scully, [there’s] a lot of shit that I can call on. We have a lot between us, so you don’t really have to make it up.

    GA: Whatever it is that is between us was there from the second we started working together, and I don’t think it’s quantifiable. It’s something that is unique and, yes, they got lucky. It was something that Chris had seen which is why he fought so hard, specifically—this is something that’s been written about a lot—to cast me instead of somebody else. He saw something between the two of us that was unique and whether it was luck or that we were meant to be with each other all along, I don’t know.

    On how playing Mulder and Scully for so long has affected their personal lives:

    DD: It impacts your life because strangers can see you that way and I’ll sit here and I’ll answer questions about this fictional person, so it stays with me in that way. I wouldn’t say that I ever get up and think of Mulder, you know, unless I’m working on it. I think I liked a lot about the guy when I played him. I liked his courage and I liked his energy to get to the truth and the quest and all that. And I think at one point I learned a little from that, like a fan might. I was a fan of the guy, but that’s as far as I go saying that he lives in me.

    GA: I don’t do things—mannerisms—and think, “Oh, that was kind of like Scully.” But by the same token, I don’t know how much of me today wasn’t influenced by the fact that I got to play her for such a long time. It’s possible that there are aspects in my seriousness or my independence or my inquisitiveness about the medical profession or science or something [that] are somehow directly related to the fact that I lived with her for such a long time. But it’s hard to qualify that.

    —Heidi Atwal

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    Tags: David Duchovny, Frank Spotnitz, Chris Carter, Gillian Anderson, The X-Files: I Want to Believe

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