“We’re looking at a world where now truth is thrown out the window and conspiracy is now seemingly the center,” says The X-Files creator Chris Carter of bringing back the pivotal drama in the era of Donald Trump. “Everything’s been turned on its head and that’s an interesting time to be telling X-Files stories,” the producer added of the latest season likely set to debut next year.
About halfway through production on the 10-episode eleventh season of the David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson starring series, Carter will be joined today at New York Comic Con by the actors who portray paranormal phenomena investigating FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully plus cast member Mitch Pileggi. In revealing the much anticipated Main Stage panel last month, Fox heighten the always bubbling X-Files hype with a promise of new footage being shown to fans.
Having first run on the then young network from 1993 to 2002, The X-Files returned to the small screen and solid ratings for a limited series in early 2016. With American Gods‘ Anderson, Duchovny and Pileggi back as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, the success of that six-episode season made more X-Filesseem a done deal. On April 20, Season 11 was officially announced by Fox.
Before Sunday’s panel on the closing day of NYCC, Carter chatted with me about bringing The X-Files back again, would he do more and what else would he like to do. The executive producer also revealed the status of the Lone Gunmen characters for Season 11 and why he still believes the truth is out there, now more than ever.
DEADLINE: So, after a small screen absence of almost 14 years, you opened up The X-Files again in 2016 for a limited series, why do it again?
CARTER: You know, last time, which would be the first new series, I got a phone call from 20th Century Fox who said the actors were very interested in doing the show again. It was something that I hadn’t anticipated but when I heard the actors wanted to do it I threw in. I have to say it’s the same with the second round here. Everyone was excited to do it and thought there was good, original work to do and here we are.
DEADLINE: We’ve had a few peeks at what this eleventh season could pertain, but that pic of Mulder by the hospital bed of Scully seems a shift from where things ended in Season 10…
CARTER: I think that picture tells you that there is something to be suspected about that season finale that things may not be what they appear.
DEADLINE: Well, that’s The X-Files in a nutshell isn’t it? It also makes me think you were indeed planning for more of the show when you were putting together the end of last year’s six-episode run, that’s true?
CARTER: (laughs) I always am and the season finale typically and traditionally on The X-Files ended with a cliffhanger. I would say last season was no different. The show is…20th Century Fox has something that they feel is valuable. It is not for me to draw to a close without serious consideration.
DEADLINE: Were you seriously thinking of trying to get Vince Gilligan and others who made cut their teeth writing for The X-Files back in the original run to return for Season 11?
CARTER: I asked Vince originally and he was busy doing Better Call Saul, that is the case again this year. We have Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan and James Wong back so that is the band that I could pull together from I would call it the original group. Everyone else is off working on their own stuff.
DEADLINE: Gillian was quite critical earlier this year about what she saw as the lack of women in the writer’s room, what was your reaction to that?
CARTER: Last season, we had two credited women writers so that came as kind of a surprise to me because in fact there were women writing on the show last year. This season, we have three women working on the show. To use the rock band model, we really did put the band back together from the original guys and a couple people who have been with me for a combination of 30 years, so it was really just by and large putting the band back together.
DEADLINE: Speaking of putting the band back together, whom from the X-Files’ history are we going to see on-screen in the upcoming season?
CARTER: You’re going to see Mulder’s half brother who was also an FBI agent and his name is Jeffery Spender. You’re going to see, of course, Mitch Peleggi. You’re going to see the cigarette-smoking man, as you did last season. And you might see some new characters associated with those people and you certainly can expect to learn more if not see Mulder and Scully’s child, William.
DEADLINE: Will William actually be in the show?
CARTER: He’s always been in the show even if he’s been the absent center, but I have to say that that storyline is explored further.
DEADLINE: Obviously, one of the new editions to this season is Barbara Hershey At first, there was some discussion because of hair color that she was connected to Scully but what role is her character actually playing in the new season?
CARTER: Her character is, I would call it, someone who has been in the past in league with the cigarette-smoking man.
DEADLINE: Just specific enough to reveal almost nothing, and in that mode, will the Lone Gunmen resurface in this new season?
CARTER: Certainly you can expect, if not a reference to them, maybe seeing one of them.
DEADLINE: Halfway through production on this eleventh season and with two X-Files movies made, are you getting near to the end with these characters?
CARTER: There’s always more X-Files stories to tell. Every time I pick up the newspaper, every day literally, I see something that sparks an interest for me.
DEADLINE: So a Season 12 is in the cards?
CARTER: (laughs) I’m trying to finish this season. I certainly think the show has much more life in it. So, I can’t answer that question definitively but I can tell you that there are more stories to tell.
DEADLINE: Would you do more of them yourself?
CARTER: It’s always a question, certainly you weigh your opportunities with your time and your life itself.
DEADLINE: Talking about time, last year when the show first came back there were some who felt things go a bit too monster of the week and that there was something lost in the Mulder and Scully they had come to know. What did that reaction feel like for you?
CARTER: Look, we really tried to adhere to what we felt was the tone generally of the show and the tonal shift in the show. Originally we could go from mythology episodes to monster of the week episodes to comedy episodes and I felt that we gave everyone in those first six episodes a very good mix of those things.
So if you were to point to how many monster of the week episodes there were in the first six I would say that there are only two. Everything else was a mythology, a comedy, or in one case I would call it an experimental episode.
DEADLINE: So, I’ll take that as you thought the critics were unfounded?
CARTER: Well, I think something that’s not in any playbook is how to bring a show back that is essentially 25 years old. That’s something that requires a lot of consideration.
DEADLINE: How so for you?
CARTER: You’ve got an audience out there who are loyal fans of the show. You don’t want to hit them over the head with a catch up for the people who may not know the show as well. So you have to walk a fine line in giving the people who have come so far with you what they want and yet introducing the show to a whole new group of people.
DEADLINE: For those loyal fans, what place does The X-Files, which literally saw the rise of the digital revolution in the 1990s, have in 2017 and 2018?
CARTER: It’s funny, the show has always adhered to a reality and I would call that a political reality, social reality, and a scientific reality. It’s been an interesting ride in that those realities have changed so much from the beginning, 1993, to the present so the show is ever changing as those things are ever changing.
DEADLINE: Changing how?
CARTER: We saw it as a really interesting time to be telling X-Files stories. I’ve always felt that the heart of the show was science. Scully’s groundedness was what gave the show a center so that scientific truth was the thing that kept Mulder in check and his belief in conspiracies or certainly pursuit of them was the thing that always set the show on edge or produced the upheaval.
We’re looking at a world where now truth is thrown out the window and conspiracy is now seemingly the center. Everything’s been turned on its head and that’s an interesting time to be telling X-Files stories.
DEADLINE: In such times, are there other shows you’d like to resurrect?
CARTER: I think Millennium would be a show that would have more life in it but no one’s ever spoken seriously to me about that.
CARTER: Yeah, I always feel that there are more of those stories to tell as well. After three seasons, we pulled the plug on that show but the ratings were still very good so I think that there is a new approach to that show building on the solid foundation that was already there.