DAVID Duchovny has made a rather frank admission about 2016’s long-awaited but ultimately disappointing return of the X-Files.
X-FILES fans can breathe a sigh of relief. David Duchovny says season 11 has redeemed itself from 2016’s fizzer.
“I am much happier about doing these next 10 episodes than I was about the last six,” the sci fi star tells news.com.au, referring to season 10, which aired last year.
“These shows are significantly better and we are all doing better work this time around,” he assures. “There are many reasons why we might not have done our best work last season probably due to the long layoff. I also think the season was too short to make an entire show.”
The groundbreaking sci-fi series began in 1993 when both Duchovny as Agent Fox Mulder, and his sceptical “non-believer” colleague, Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were yet to become household names. Anderson was completely unknown while Duchovny had hosted the erotic series Red Shoe Diaries.
Back then, the studio baulked at creator Chris Carter’s insistence on hiring Anderson, claiming she didn’t have enough sex appeal to create a believable chemistry with Duchovny. Ten seasons later, two blockbuster movies (The X-Files, in 1998, and The X-Files: I Want to Believe, in 2008) and a 25-year history, it’s safe to say the studio was proven wrong.
Now both stars command a reported US$220k per episode — though it must be said, Anderson had to fight for pay equality before she signed on for season 10, after being offered an insulting half of what Duchovny was paid.
Anderson has won a lead actress Golden Globe and Emmy for her work as Agent Scully, so admits she was frustrated that she had to fight so hard for equal pay.
“It was shocking to me, given all the work that I’d done, to get us to be paid fairly.”
It’s not only the studio they’ve had to battle during their years as Mulder and Scully.
Duchovny says that working on a hit sci fi show gives them a connection with many passionate fans.
“In the first year, I would get fan mail. I was too cheap to pay for a fan mail service — and to be honest, there wasn’t that much fan mail. So they would give me the fan mail and I would go home and on the weekend, and I’d try and answer all of it. And that happened for probably five months or so after the show started airing.
“I would diligently read these letters, and I was struck by the fact that people really felt, ‘Oh my God! A show that is finally telling the truth that the government won’t tell us about!’ A lot of people believed that the X-Files were a real thing and that there were actually files somewhere in the FBI that were called The X-Files,” he laughs. “They thought the show was a documentary!”
Duchovny felt he was in danger of TMI from the more avid fans.
“Yes, there was a quite bit in the letters from people telling me personal experiences that they’d had with aliens and that they’d been abducted,” he says. “I thought it was
quite sad and because [unlike Fox Mulder] I wasn’t a believer.
“So I’d read these letters and look it at it psychologically and think, ‘Clearly, this didn’t happen. This is a person with issues that needs way more help than me sending them an autographed picture,” he laughs, shaking his head. “I remember sitting in my apartment going, ‘I can’t help. I don’t want to say I’m telling the truth, but I also didn’t want to corroborate and say, ‘Yes, the X-Files are true.’”
Presumably, he was also propositioned by some of his more ardent fans?
“Well, yes, that happens to actors, period,” he shrugs.
Duchovny says it's the perfect time to bring back The X-Files. “Maybe we’re in a nostalgic place for science fiction because there are many shows now like Stranger Things, or Black Mirror that we may or may not have engendered in some way.”
While Duchovny can’t seem to quit Mulder, and is open for a season 12, Anderson is definitely ready to hang up Scully’s hat.
“I won’t change my mind. This is it for me,” says Anderson. She recently starred in The Fall (2013-2016) War and Peace (2016), and last year’s American Gods. She will next star in the upcoming action comedy, The Spy Who Dumped Me.
“Now I’m in a position where I am offered different kinds of stuff and I get to challenge myself in different ways on a regular basis. It feels like it would be counter-productive, or counter-intuitive to sign myself up to do something that doesn’t allow me that freedom.”
Duchovny adds with a wry smile, “I’ve tried to say goodbye to Fox Mulder many times, and I’ve failed. I’m good either way. I’m good with this being the end, I’m good with it not being the end. I can’t see the future. I don’t know.”