Chris Carter on X-Files Season 10, William and the brilliance of Mitch Pileggi
It’s fair to say that The X-Files revival ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger. The imminent end of the world, to be exact, courtesy of an alien virus, and it left us anxious to see more from Mulder and Scully.
Which is not to say that the six episode miniseries didn’t get a lot done. There was plenty of arc mythology, William was not only addressed but loomed over each and every episode, and we even got an all-time great comedy episode from Darin Morgan: ‘Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster.’
We got the chance to talk to creator Chris Carter about his experiences of bringing The X-Files back to TV after all this time, the William storyline, the status of Season 11, and why Mitch Pileggi is simply essential.
How did it feel being back in the writers’ room cooking up a new season of The X-Files after all this time?
It felt extremely familiar and that had a lot to do with the fact that there were a lot of people who were originally on the show, the writer producers and directors, and of course working with David and Gillian again, it was like we never stopped.
It was a homecoming and it wasn’t just the writers, producers, it was the director of photography and it was the production designers, the casting people. So it was an extended family that came back. And there were a lot of new people as well and I don’t want to take anything away from them but it was nice getting the band back together.
It was great to be reminded of just how great Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are.
Yeah, you know, for them, they’ve done more work than probably most actors will ever do playing those characters and so they know them very very well and they were stepping into well worn shoes but that said, it took a little bit. We had to stop in the beginning and talk about it. Gillian was in a series called The Fall and she plays a very strong woman, but coming in to play Scully she was playing a different kind of strong woman. So that took a minute of conversation between us.
The revival took them to some pretty emotional places, particularly with the William storyline.
You know, I consider the William story to be part of the mythology, and maybe the thing I like most about the mythology is that the stories are very, very personal stories. I think bringing William back would be a huge event in the course of the show. In effect he is back because he’s back as an emotional centre for these two characters, something that they share, something that they suffer privately. So while he’s not back in the flesh I feel that his presence looms large.
How important was it to make sure you got the different kinds of X-Files episodes into the six-episode miniseries? Comedy, horror, etc…
The show became so many things over time and it could scare you, it could thrill you, it could make you laugh, it could engage you in the emotional journeys of these characters. I think it was pure luck in many cases, the discovery of how the show could do so many different things. And it really turns on the brilliance of the two actors, they’re capable of so many different things.
So in coming back we wanted to take advantage of, not just the actors’ range, but of the recipe that we had developed in the original series and comedy being an important part of the mix. Luckily we had Darin Morgan back and that episode, number three, gave you time to catch your breath and laugh before we headed into darker territory.
Was there anything that you really wanted to get in that you didn’t have time for?
Yeah, we had a seventh episode and we actually talked very seriously about doing it and we didn’t get a chance to do it. So when the next series comes and I’m sure it will…the seventh episode would have been a very good episode. So there were more ideas than there was time.
What was the reaction like to that cliffhanger?
Most people say “How could you do this to us?” and I say “I’ve been doing it to you for 23 years!” I have to say that, as cliffhangers go, this is probably one of the biggest cliffs that we’ve ever put Mulder and Scully on, they’re holding by their fingernails.
Do you have plans for a Season 11?
I do have a plan for where it’s going to go and I’ve told absolutely no one except for one or two people close to me what my ideas are. Fox has asked for more episodes and I think the only part that has not been nailed down is when the episodes would be done.
How have you found the difference between fan culture during the original run and the present?
We kind of grew up with the internet. We were one of the original shows that had a direct connection with fans via the internet in 1993-94, early chatrooms, so it’s not different in quality it’s just different in quantity. There are so many more places to hear from with fans, and also to reach fans, that is something that actually came as a shock to me. The way to get the message to fans now has actually completely changed. When it comes to the marketing of the show there are so many more mouths to feed.
Was there anything that felt completely different in the production of the new episodes?
There is one thing that struck me. It used to take us 11 ½ months to do 22-25 episodes. Here we had six episodes and it seemed like it was going to be a breeze, and it ended up taking 11 months of my life to do six episodes! So it takes no less time to do fewer episodes than it took to do more.
I have the luxury of an extended post-production…one of the things that has changed in the run of the show is the availability of new technology to do better and faster special effects. So while I had to sometimes settle for what I could do for the time and money on the original series, here I had the extended post-production so I could perfect my effects and I had all these new tools on my tool bench that made those effects that much better.
Finally, it was great to see Mitch Pileggi back as Skinner. How important was it to get him back in the show?
It was so great that Mitch was available because it’s really not the same show without Skinner. That he appears in the main credits is a testament to how important he is to all the fans. He kind of anchors those two characters who are often out risking their lives and reputations for the show. He is the solid centre.
X-Files Season 10 is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 13th June.