Getting spooky Agent Fox Mulder on the set of the upcoming X-Files sequel
It's been 6 years since we last saw Mulder and Scully sharing screentime together. It's been 6 years since one of the most loved TV shows of all-time went off the air. After legal battles, time conflict resolutions and a studio finally saying 'yes' to a project fans have been screaming for for years, The X-Files is finally back in everyone's life on July 25th.
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly and Amanda Peet, The X-Files is being classified as a supernatural thriller. A stand-alone story in the tradition of some of the show's most acclaimed and beloved episodes, and takes the always-complicated relationship between Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) in unexpected directions. Mulder continues his unshakable quest for the truth, and Scully, the passionate, ferociously intelligent physician, remains inextricably tied to Mulder's pursuits.
On a cold day last February MovieWeb was invited to visit the set of the upcoming X-Files movie sequel, which shot extensively in Vancouver, Virginia and a reservation in Mount Currie. Walking onset, I was instantly at home. A dark, misty vibe blanketed the studio and inspired that ominous feeling that could be reserved for the countless times I've indulged in the show's deep mythology while drifting off into unconsciousness. Flush with The X-Files signature moonlight prying through and silloutteting a darkened tree-line, the essence of the show was completely intact. What we saw that day instantly reunited me with all of the reasons I fell in love with the series in the first place. And, although the filmmakers swore all of us who were there that day to secrecy, I can say that new fans, casual fans, and superfans alike are going to be able to completely escape with a totally unique movie-going experience this film is going to bring this summer.
While the production of the film, the plotline, what we are allowed to know about the characters, and even the film's title have been as heavily guarded as the alien conspiracy the agents had chased so furiously during the series' 9 years on the air, we were able to get some insight about the mysterious project from actor David Duchovny (Agent Fox Mulder) himself.
Does the team like old times?David Duchovny: The live part is over, for two and a half months now. The first couple of weeks felt a little like deja vu but now it's just like the business of making the movie and now it's just another movie in a way.
They haven't told us anything about what the film is about or anything is there anything you can tell us about certain general about the themes and moving the story forward?
David Duchovny: You know I think the reasoning behind being mum about what is going on in the film, for Chris (Carter) at least, is to give an audience an experience of surprise. Which is so hard to do with trailers and obviously you guys have a job to do and that is harder to write anything if we're not saying anything. But having said that, the themes are the same of what the show always was. The themes about belief and faith and about the relationship between Mulder and Skully and how that's developed over the past 4 or 5 years that the show has been off the air. As if they've been living as we've all been living, they aren't stuck in time...I guess, they've moved on, I don't know if Chris mentioned that...in some fictional realm just as we all have and yet their issues remained the same.
When the series started it sort of captured the country in a way that the other shows hadn't before...and then when the movie came out several years later, how is The X-Files different now that the world has completely changed?
David Duchovny: Has the world completely changed? (Laughs)
David Duchovny: People say the world changes all the time and yet human nature remains the same. You know good stories are going to be good stories and people are going to see them. I don't think people see movies because what is going on in the world. People usually want to escape what is going on in the world and that always remains the same. I think what changes is the size of our cell phones.
Why make this movie now?David Duchovny: I don't know...I felt always at anytime it would have been fine. Whenever Chris was ready to come up with a script, whenever his burn out was over. You know as actors our burn out was probably a little shorter than his, I think he carried a heavier load producing, writing, directing. I know it took me about a year to feel whole after the show was over. So after that point it was always my intention, my desire, that the show would continue on in movie form. It was never my intention or why I wanted to leave television series to sabotage the show in anyway. It was "Yes, we've done all we can on television lets take this into movies," just like we always said that we would.
So, do you see it as a series of X-Files movies?
David Duchovny: Yeah, I wouldn't see any reason to do it unless it were, its a serial show by its nature, it starts as a television show which is a serial, the frame and the characters throw off an infinite number of stories and situations. It's a classic archtypical relationship with a believer and a non-believer with this unrequited love in the middle of it. And that all works that can work forever as long as your stories are good.
How excited were you to get back into the character? To get back in this guys skin again after all these years.
David Duchovny: Well, I was very excited to do it, then as the day approached nearer, I started wonder if I needed to work more, to kinda get back into that. So there was a certain amount of fear because maybe I had changed. I think what happened was my facility, my range or my interests might have changed. I didn't change. So this character might have represented a narrower box than the one I'd been working with the last 4 or 5 years since I left. So how do I bring what I've learned into the last 4 or 5 years into this box? Seriously, last night, they have internet access here and somebody pulled up one of these mimeses to the show and it has a song, a romantic song and then all these kisses between Gillian and I. That was actually really helpful for me to feel the show again, cause it was like this overview and it was very romantic and very sweet, and I was like "Oh, I can watch that!"
You were doing the show, you became involved in writing scripts and co-writing scripts with Chris. Is there any input you've got in the writing of this script?David Duchovny: Not in the initial conception or the first writing of it, and hardly at all because we kinda signed off on the script right as the writer's strike happened so we had discussions about particular scenes and things that we might try once we get there. But it's a tightly plotted thriller, in essence if you have a tightly plotted thriller there's not all lot of re-writing that should be done. Hopefully, if it's good, there's not a lot to do, the story drives forward, if you fuck around in the scenes you're not going to drive the story forward. So its not a form that tolerates improvisation and it was put together when it was presented to me and Gillian I thought, that there was really nothing to add in that way.
Rumor has it that this one has a far more supernatural feel, its kinda back to the horror, scary, real, if you will. What kind of relief was that for you to break out of the mythology?
David Duchovny: Well, I like the mythology stuff. I liked it actually more when we were doing the show because it usually gave Mulder kind of an emotional stake either through his sister or where he was personally involved in the episode and that was a relief and more fun for me as an actor to kind of approach during the yearly grind of the show, so I can understand and I can chew that up a little bit rather than being a "Law and Order" type procedural, you know, "Did you do it? You didn't do it?" this is my theory and get out of there. So, in a way I think I had an opposite reaction. I wish this was a little more about me. (Laughs) But in effect its more about the show and more about establishing the parameters of the show, for those who don't know it, for those who've forgotten and even for those who love it, they'll get that part of it as well, so if there is another one, I hope there is, I think we'd get into a story where there was more of the mythology. I think that's the heart of the show.
A lot of actors who headline a hit series often worry about being typecast the rest of their careers, coming back into this you are apparently comfortable now you've moved on and done enough other things that you're able to come back to this.
David Duchovny: Well, you know its interesting you know, I get asked questions by you guys. It's like the first question, haven't people forgotten? And the second question is well nobody has forgotten, (Laughs) Aren't you typecast? (Laughs) I don't know! I gave up a while ago worrying about the whole phenomenon of typecasting. Once I realized that happens across the board, it doesn't just happen in terms of television shows. So comedy actors get trapped in there and dramatic actors can't do comedy. And people, even movie actors that of had long careers have 2 or 3 roles that they get stopped for unless you're Brando. There's only a couple that have done so much that its hard to even yell something stupid to them on the streets. (Laughs)
So, I don't worry about that. I think what overcomes that is my kind of sense of love for the show and belief in its legitimacy as an interesting movie franchise with a lot to offer. The thriller aspect and the horror aspect, but also an intelligence. And like I said this great frame, you know the man and woman, the believer and the non-believer. So I think all those things are making a very kind of fertile area to move on in.
How is your relationship with Gillian on this now?
David Duchovny: It's good, yeah.
Is it any different than what it was during the series?David Duchovny: Yeah, it's probably different in the fact that we're both not exhausted all the time. We're kind of excited to come and do what we think is the heart of the movie, we think is the relationship. So we'll do these things that are action oriented and have to do with this particular plot and Billy Connolly. But, then we come back to the scenes like we're doing today and we're aware. We feel like this is where the heart is and where the movie is and we just have to trust each other and to hold each other up in these scenes to bring back whatever it was that was there.
Do you think the movie will bring those fans back to X-Files mode?
David Duchovny: I don't know, you know there were nine years of one hours. I can't think of another show that did that with the same cast... even though I wasn't in most of the ninth year. You look at, you know any drama, long running drama and they don't run that long normally. Law and Order, its like menudo you know and ER is the same.
They keep changing...
David Duchovny: Yeah, so the exhaustion is mutual. (Laughing) But, I would think in the good will of trying new stories you ultimately reach further and further in all directions. And probably by the 7th, 8th and 9th years the writers were forced to reach and I think there are people, fans, journalists out there who kinda sit on that moment and wait for that sign of exhaustion or that sign of creative bankruptcy, which has to come naturally. I can't imagine anybody that can do it for 8 or 9 years. A show like this that is idea driven, you know, it's not like, "Oh, we got good jokes"... It's not like a sitcom that can run for 12, 13 years. So you know if they were exhausted, if they fell in love with the show for for the premise and for the characters and for the execution, the writing. Well, then thats what we're back to, you know this is actually more of a story that we would have told in season 3 or 4.
How scary does this movie get?
David Duchovny: I think very.
I mean does it get scary, is the thrill a thrill?
David Duchovny: I think it's scary. It's pretty dark, there's some nasty stuff going on.
David Duchovny: Yeah, that's the funny thing. Was the first movie, PG-13? That's so confusing to me. That was 10 years ago. But, there were episodes that bordered on near "R" stuff on some pretty fucked up shit.
In a way you can do more on TV, you can almost do "R" stuff on some of those tv shows probably would of been getting close to an "R". But I know the mission is to make a PG-13 film here, so I assume we will. But its more the idea behind it.
Does this story rank up there with the gruesomeness of the Home episode?
David Duchovny: Yeah, I think there's some of that you know and I don't know how much of it you'll see, but its in the story... you'll come away with "uh, that's what they were doing?"And Home, Home is one of the most controversial shows we ever made. It was pulled out of rotation and yet its one of maybe four or five shows. If somebody wants to bring up a show with me, they'll bring that show up. So obviously people enjoyed that part of the show also.
Are you planning for any DVD extras for this film?
David Duchovny: Yes a lot, because I think there's a lot of extra gore and stuff.
Do you have any favorite episodes of the show?
David Duchovny: I probably have a few, you know, I probably have my top 10, I think some of Chris's were really terrific like the black and white episode and the one with Lily Tomlin and the one on the boat. Dan Morgan's episodes were always great. Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space' and like two or three others. Some of Darin Morgan and James Wong's stuff is really scary, they like have the best scary ones and Gilligan kinda straddled scary and funny better than anybody, like Bad Blood, it was great one, Luke Wilson in it.
After playing a character for over a decade, what is the best thing about Mulder that you like doing and what is your most challenging thing after all this time?
David Duchovny: I think it is that he's single minded, not taking no for an answer, just never giving up. Just being a quest hero, its something we get to do in life. And it just feels larger than life, sometimes going into the scene. And the challenges of humanity inside that one quest, to bring in the humor, to bring in side interests or make the guy three dimensional.
There is so much secrecy surrounding this film, is it because there are fans out there clammering for every bit of information? Or is it just Chris Carter that is a secretive guy and doesn't want the word to get out there? Or is it just the nature of The X-Files?
David Duchovny: I think its a little bit of both, but I think it's what I said first... Chris wants it to be a surprise. I know the story, you know... it being a thriller, if you go in knowing what the story is it's kinda not as interesting. It's kinda hoping to keep that a secret as long as possible.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our visit to the set of The X-Files with Gillian Anderson.