As part of the TCA Winter sessions, FOX organized a studio day for the journalists involved in the traditional gathering for the press.
This Q&A had been advertised to be with the attendance of David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, and Chris Carter. Due to the current mudslide and storm situation in Montecito and Santa Barbara areas, Carter had to skip the event but producers Glen Morgan, Darin Morgan and Jim Wong stepped up to be part of the panel.
After the presentation of the latest trailer of the new season, the different members of the press took turns to inquire about the latest and most timely questions. Click after the jump for the full - albeit a bit narrated - transcript of the session.
“So I'll just get this (one) out of the way now. You've said several times now that this is your swan song for Ms. Scully And I'm just curious. When did you arrive at that decision and why?”
After David jokes that he hasn’t heard any of this, and Gillian humors him, kindly, she replied:
“I arrived at the decision before we did the previous six,” She starts. She’d originally thought that the six episodes of the tenth season were the only ones that were going to be produced “It was dipping our toe back in again and just meeting up again and making the most of it and getting to play these wonderful characters again, and I think, as Chris has said himself, that that short stack of episodes kind of felt like we were learning how to walk again and that this season of ten (episodes) feels like the pace is up and we are running.”
David joked that it felt more like they were crawling now, referring to their ages.
“Before we did these ten, I did think that that was going to be it. But the minute they mentioned that they might be interested in doing another, I thought, do you know what? That didn't feel like the right way to end it. It didn't feel like I would necessarily have been happy if those six were how we said good bye and thought, you know, the way that the writers were talking about doing another season- were we to do another season- sounded more like a good ending to me. And so, when I was asked to do another season, I agreed to do another season.”
She explained that a new series per se was never part of the deal or even suggested to her. “In my mind, it had always been that it would just be one season.” Some journalists have asked or suggested to her and Chris Carter in the recent press appointments -like at NYCC- that maybe the series will continue its run every few years, but that was not what she agreed to do.
As to why she wants to finish her run as Scully? “It's just that, you know, there's lots of things that I want to do in my life and in my career,” she explains. “it's been an extraordinary opportunity and an extraordinary character, and I am hugely grateful. But there are lots of other stuff I want to do, and I don't really want to be tied down to months and months of doing any particular one thing that I feel like I've done. That's why.”
Her exit definitely proves problematic now that we’ve entered an 11th season where the narrative of the show has laid the path to more questions than answers, and everyone in the room wanted to know: would we get any kind of resolution at the end of the season or if they would want to keep the audience going on with questions forever?
Gillian and David agreed, there has to be a moment where the story is settled, but given that Chris couldn’t attend the panel, frustratingly David joked that neither of the producers in the room would answer that question. Everyone in the audience snickered a bit, and even Mitch taunted a bit at Glen Morgan.
“We are not officially finished shooting yet.” Morgan explained. “I believe we will answer some of those questions.”
“Is that a threat?” David joked, but Glen elaborated.
“Some of those questions will be answered. Some, I think, won't because that's the way this show is.” As for if the show is preparing an actual ending for this season, that will always be a question for Chris Carter.
Another question from the room moved the conversation along to continue talking about the nature of the finale of this season.
There had been some confusion from the press, saying that Gillian believed that the way the season is ending felt like a good way to end the show. But she adamantly clarified that she hadn’t said that – today or at any other time – but what she’d said was that it felt that the opportunity of having a new season with more episodes would give them the chance to deliver a better ending.
“I will say this and I mean this in all honesty that "The X-Files" is a it's a frame. It's a show.” Duchovny explained. “It's an idea that Chris came up with many, many years ago. It happens to have these three actors in it that people have become attached to, but I believe that "The X-Files" as a frame is—“
“You believe?” Gillian interjects to his amusement.
“I do believe (The X-Files) is completely legitimate in any form. So whether it can go on, who knows.” He admits. Certainly there’s no way for them to see the future. Unless Nostradamus is in the room. Gillian thinks Mitch could be Nostradamus, she jokes.
Another member of the press inquired if Gillian was leaving because she preferred the anonymity of the European film/tv scene and but that in a few years there could still be the possibility of her returning to portray Scully again.
“I like to be challenged as an actor, and I like to do many, many different characters, and that's why I got into the business.” She explained. “I've done this now for decades, and it's time for me to hang up Scully's hat. It just is.”
Anderson has a busy slate coming up, with lots of different projects that she’s been presented with that couldn’t be accomplished if she has to be tied to a series that shoots for an extended amount of time.
Still, the journalist pressed her on and continued to suggest she could come back. And I will make a brief aside to say, I was delighted to be here to see just how serious she is about her response.
“This is it for me. I'm really serious.” She responded, firmly. “I have so much respect for these guys, and I have respect for Scully, and I have respect for David, and it's really sad. But I'm finished, and that's the end of that.”
The next question was for Darin Morgan and it pondered about how timely his episode “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is. Darin admits that the present politics in the U.S. gave them an excuse to do this episode with such a backdrop, than just a scary story. It’s an episode with a purpose.
For the actors, it was actually a treat to spend time with the writer/director, because he has his own voice different to the rest of the writers of the show.
“I find it challenging because I feel like he really, kind of, has it in for my character, and I feel that navigating his episodes are a wonderful challenge because of that.” Says Duchovny. “And I don't say that in any kind of passive aggressive way. I really say it just in a thankful way, that it's really a challenge as an actor to do that within the show that he's subverting. So I'm always excited.”
“You are welcome.” Darin goads, and the audience laughs.
The press wanted to know about collaboration and implementing the writers room method in the show, which wasn’t really a concept per se again this season. “When we first started "The X Files," there was actually no such thing as a traditional writers' room that we understand as it exists now,” Jim Wong tells. “In these particular ten episodes, we try to incorporate some of the things we've done recently in other shows and get together and, sort of, talk about the direction we want to take.” He noted that because they all mostly wrote and directed their own episodes, that there wasn’t really a chance to have a writers room, although they all give notes to each other, and are involved in the development of the stories.
Now that Gillian Anderson has expressed that she won’t be back for any more seasons of the show, the press wanted to know that given that they hadn’t finished shooting, if that meant that they had the opportunity to tweak the finale to better deliver a story that could go on without her. Glen Morgan explained that the ending has been filmed, even when that doesn’t quite respond to the question of if there will be closure for Scully and that was the follow up topic.
When asked if it’s a good ending for Scully, Anderson did not answer right away, but by no means because there wasn’t something to answer. She thinks she still needs to think about it, and not because she’s evading the question, but that she really needs to consider if she thinks it was a good ending for Scully.
Onto the unknown next set of episodes, which promise interesting things. “We are pretty I think we are proud of Episode 7. We had a couple of female writers, Kristen Cloke and Shannon Hamblin.” The episode was directed by Glen Morgan, and as David Duchovny pointed out, the episode has barely any dialogue.
“It was really a difficult episode to conceive of as a director and really a ballsy move on everybody's part, and I think it's one of our better episodes of the year, and I think it's really to think of putting up an hour of television on a network that has maybe 20 lines in it and still be as riveting as Glen was sure it was going to be and I'm sure not all of us believed it I think it's really, kind of, one of our more special episodes that we've done in a long time.” David gushed.
“FOX is great to have let us do it.” Glen admits and they’re all grateful for the resources that the company gave them to experiment. The episode is sort of a homage to “Space: Above and Beyond” and the writer Winfinch Kolbe, who passed away while the episode was being shot. They’ve been influenced by various creators from the past like Buster Keaton and Chaplin.
“It's really interesting, as an actor, to work on something that has no dialogue because you don't want to end up, like, miming what you would say were you to have dialogue, and so it was a really it was a fascinating challenge to not end up just being Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton in the way that we were communicating to each other.” Gillian adds.
“I really love the way you walked against the wind, though, in the middle of the episode.” David jokes, pulling from the films references.
“Also, Episode 6, Gabe Rotter wrote all of the backstory of Skinner. You know, it's been a long time. We've been waiting to hear that.” Glen completes. “Each episode always tries to push even if it's a monster show, it tries to push the boundaries of that monster show.”
Given that Chris Carter has said that he wouldn’t want to continue the show without Anderson, where does that leave Duchovny?
“I've tried to say good bye to Fox Mulder many times, and I failed.” He starts.
“He was the first one to say good bye to Fox Mulder.” Anderson quips.
“I failed.” David continues. “And they all went, and they did the show without me. So how do you like that? I'm feeling pretty pissed off, now that I remember.” He jokes. “I'm good. I'm good either way. I'm good, you know, with this being the end. I'm good with it not being the end. You know, as I said, I don't, I can't see the future. I don't know. Whatever comes across my desk, I take a look at if it's written.”
Then about Pileggi’s chance this time around to explore on Skinner’s background.
“I love playing the character, and the sixth episode this season, we find out more about his backstory. (…) “You actually see a scene play out that Skinner had referenced in an earlier season when he's I think when Mulder was trying to resign and he was refusing his resignation and he related one of his experiences in Vietnam. It was horrific to him. It affected him terribly. But you actually get to see that played out, which is really cool for me. And being able to let the audience know who Skinner is, why he is the way he is, and why he behaves the way he does, why he's done the things that he does and what his relation is with them, you know, and why it is the way it is with him, you find out all of the stuff about him. So there really is a lot that is revealed. And I was very gratified that we were able to do this. Gabe Rotter wrote a wonderful episode to accomplish this, so I was very pleased with it.
“And Mitch is wonderful in it,” Gillian adds.
“You are sweet. Thank you, darling.” He replied, turning to her. “It was a lot of fun. And I might say, having had the very good fortune and opportunity to stand across from these two for so many years, it has been a real treat and a great honor for me as an actor and as a person to have made these friends for so long. So it's been very cool.”
On Gillian’s support to the “Time’s up” movement showcased at the Golden Globes this past Sunday. The press wanted to know about the reception that the initiative has had.
“It's only Wednesday. I mean, I think it was a very powerful evening, being there, and I think that the way that it was put together, that the initiative itself, that the Legal Defense Fund, the Harassment Commission that's being put together by Kathleen Kennedy and others is a really very effective, a proactive adult way towards their equal accountable. Harassment in the workplace is not just in the industry, but as an example, in other industries around well, we'll start with our nation. So, I think it was I think it was very effective, and I think people are paying attention.
Another journalist wanted to know if Robert Patrick or other old favorites would be back, but their schedules and episode count wouldn’t allow for it. Glen Morgan had the opportunity to work with Patrick on “Lore” – he hadn’t had the opportunity to work with him during the run of “The X-Files” and he thought it was funny to have the family connection.
What’s next on the plate for the actors:
Gillian clarified that she won’t be returning to "American Gods" either, given that Bryan Fuller and Michael Green aren’t coming back. She also has other things that she’s not ready to talk about just yet.
Mitch Pileggi isn’t done shooting for “The X-Files,” but he has yet to share any upcoming projects. “Polaroid” was a movie that was due to premiere but got caught in the Harvey Weinstein deluge.
David Duchovny has a concert tour coming up, a novel, and then maybe a directorial gig of his second novel "Bucky Fucking Dent" in the summer.
On the writers, the journalists wanted to know about working together having known each other for so many years.
“Well, for me, I, sort of, joined the brotherhood in the sophomore year of high school. I got to became one of Glen's he's, probably, one of my best friends in life. So, we you know, I think without Glen Morgan, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. Sorry.” Jim Wong jokes bashful. “I really feel a great deal of gratitude and debt to him, and, you know, I mean, I think he you know, he probably maybe he probably led the way for Darin to be in this business, too. (…)He made me who I am in my career, and so, I have nothing but incredible...
“And he can destroy him.” Mitch interjects throwing everyone in a fit of laughter.
“You know, we hadn't worked together for awhile now, but when we came back on "The X-Files," it really felt it was just like as it was before.” Jim continues. “And, you know, all the shorthand we had with each other and the support I felt was there. And so, it was it was beautiful. It was wonderful.”
“It's funny. When they were a pair of writers, they were known as "the Wongs." Duchovny says, laughing.
“Yeah.” Jim recalls. “Yeah, they called us on "Jump Street" they called us the Wong Brothers, for some reason. No --
"Wong Men." They said "Wong Men." That's what they said.”
Glen notes that their relationship with writers and directors is full of a lot of short hand in having worked together for so many years, knowing what makes each writer and director tick, what the actors would like to be challenged with, etc. Which explains some of the hesitance to bring in new faces. “When we were doing the show back in the day (…) Kim Manners, you knew Kim was going to do this great, you know?’ The late director worked on the show for most of its original run and had a solid relationship with the writers. “And then, there was so much that you don't have to talk about and sit down and have a meeting. We get a little grief for using the people that have been here for 25 years. It's because of that shorthand.”
Marisa Roffman, addressed the following question: William was obviously a part of the second film and was mentioned many times in the last season. Can you talk a little bit about getting to have him in this season as a more physical presence, and what it was like just incorporating him to the story in a physical body?
“Well, that was really for the writers, I think. You know how to work how to work a whole new character in with that kind of a history.” David starts. “But, you know, for us as actors, it's just the human aspect of it. It's not really who William is, but it's the fact that we're dealing with a child after so many years. So, you know, as an actor, it's an interesting thing to look at, especially in a show like this which doesn't often deal with family dynamics or soap opera elements like that, but it's certainly a very interesting character to just show up as an adult, almost, you know. It's an amazing thing that we're that old, that long running, that you can do that.”
Reflecting on the end of the show, they were asked what they could say about the fact that Mulder and Scully are one of the most iconic TV pairings in TV history.
“I feel like my relationship to Scully and to them has changed so much year after year after year. And certainly, at the beginning, I had no idea what to expect.” Gillian begins. “I didn't really understand how American television worked or what seasons were or that things ran in rerun. I mean, I was really, really naive. And so, it was all such a big whirlwind. At the time that we became as popular as we became, that was its own, you know (…)it was intense for a period of time. (I had) to reconcile what that meant for me and my personal life and these characters.” FOX asked them to comment on their favorite episodes for marketing reasons and this allowed Anderson to revisit the episodes. “And I only feel, actually, that now, in retrospect, actually trolling through some of the episodes that it's been years since I've seen, I feel like I every time I'm asked to reflect, I have a completely different and new perspective on what it was and what it meant and a new understanding of what it might have meant for other people. And this year, in doing that at FOX's request, I feel like for the first time I truly understood how special and unique the dynamic was between Mulder and Scully. It's taken me a while.” She laughs.
“But, you know, in watching some of these scenes, really, really beautiful beautifully written scenes and really intimate scenes between them. Nothing intimate in a sexual way, but certainly in their connection with each other and how unique and almost old fashioned it was. Some of these shows the original shows feel like, you know, they could be in the '40s or something. It's the weirdest thing. And I feel like just this year, I've developed a whole new appreciation for the uniqueness of what people always ask me about and referred to, "What about your chemistry," and, you know, "You got chemistry," you know? But it was it's special. And it's a chemistry that often there are elements of it that show up when we're, you know, side by side doing interviews, but most of it shows up
“Not right now, but ...” David quips, humorously, and Gillian smirks to continue.
“But most of the time when we're when the cameras are rolling, you know, and it's so, I feel like my feelings about it have changed drastically over the years. I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful.” She reflects. “I mean, I think, you know, some actors get stuck with characters that they could take or leave or they're not that crazy about, and to be you know, to have the opportunity to play somebody as extraordinary a character, as iconic a character as Scully and to be in this duo is a very special thing, indeed.”
When it’s David’s turn to reply, he is hesitant after Gillian’s honest take.
“I tend not to reflect like that.” He admits. “It's just not in my nature. I mean, I understand your question and I understand what you're what you're looking for or the kind of discussion that you want to have, but I've always felt from the beginning, it's, like, there's looking at it as a viewer as a work of art, or whatever it is, and then, there's the making of it. And I keep those two things very distinct because if I start to think of myself as iconic, then, I'm fucked, you know? Then, my performance is shit. So, it's always been I don't want to think about what the show means or the legacy or, you know, the history. Maybe maybe down the line. But I've never, as a maker of it, ever wanted to even consider that stuff because, to me, it's like a it's infectious to my process or whatever it is you want to call it. So, sorry, I don't really have an answer. I mean, I understand a lot of what Gillian said and I agree with it, though.”
“I've heard that before.” She jokes.
At the bold suggestion that Gillian did her homework studying the episodes and he didn’t, he mocks outrage and laughs. “Maybe my memory is better.”
“That's definitely true. That's definitely true.” Gillian admits.
“It's tough, that question.” He confesses. “I didn't want to play that game, actually. When they asked me my favorite episodes, I initially said, "No, I'm not going to give you that," and then, they said, "Well, Gillian is doing it," and I said, "Fuck."”
“I think in the end, I gave them the same answer for all five.” She remembers.
David continues: “So, it's not something that I sit around going, "Yeah, my top 10 favorite episodes that I'm in. Uh hum." So, no, it's not I don't go there, but I can appreciate that they're good, yeah.”
Another press members wanted to know if it was different coming back the last season, or this season altogether.
“I think it was more difficult the last time just because it had been such a long gap.” David explains. I think because it was a short run a shorter run a very short run, six episodes, it's like I think we just started to kind of get up and go, and then, we were done. And I think that's one of the reasons that these 10 (episodes) are, I believe, a lot stronger than the last six that we did was just because well, first of all, we had those six to kind of rehearse on, and then because the show is so flexible, and the show has so many different tones and the show has so many different you know, all these writers have different voices, and when they come and direct, they direct with those voices, so, the show is really different in the hands of these different guys. And if you only have six, then, it's a little schizophrenic, and if you have ten, then you can, kind of, find a groove between all these different guys. So, I think this is a lot more indicative of the kind of show that we used to have."