Carter and Spotnitz on Mulder and Scully's return.
At the recent Paley Festival X-Files reunion/tribute, I had the chance to speak one on one with both Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz about the upcoming new X-Files sequel. Carter, who wrote and directed the upcoming film, said that reuniting to make the film "was strange, but it was actually as natural as can be." Co-writer Spotnitz added, "It's amazing. I've just come off filming the movie for the last three months. To revisit characters who were gone is such a unique opportunity in Hollywood – to have a chance to come back to people like this."
It's known that the film is a stand-alone story, not tying into the overreaching mythology stories the series also did. Carter explained that with the new film "We knew we wanted to do something that wasn't a mythology episode. We'd kind of wrapped up the mythology, to a large extent, in the series. So I think, especially coming back a number of years later, the best thing to do would be to reintroduce The X-Files to its core audience, but also maybe introduce it to a lot of people who haven't had a chance to see it before, who were maybe too young to see it before. I talk to college kids now who were too young fifteen years ago [when the series began], and if you're 22 years old and in college, you were just a kid. So I think there are lots of kids who didn't see it. "
Of course, the big question is if the film isn't about the alien/government conspiracy plotline, what is it about? When I asked Carter if he could tell us about the plot, he replied "I can't, really, because nobody really wants to know. The truth is everybody wants to go and have a great experience. They want to be surprised and they want to be scared and if the cat gets out of the bag, there's no putting it back in."
While still not offering specifics, Spotnitz did tell us this about the film: "It's scary. It's about Mulder and Scully, very much. It's about them and their relationship and who they are and it's a personal and emotional movie too, in a way that the series rarely could be, because we're not doing 24 episodes - we're just doing this one standalone movie. And it's designed to reward fans. It certainly touches upon things that fans alone will appreciate. But [it's also designed] to work for people who never saw The X-Files - who were too young. That's what's most exciting, honestly, is the chance to introduce these characters to a new generation."
The show ended with Mulder and Scully's legal status in a highly problematic place, and Spotnitz promised that would not be ignored in the film. "We had to and we wanted to address everything that a fan would say 'Well, what about that?' I think we've done that without excluding anybody who never saw the show," Spotnitz explained, adding, "If you remember, in the first movie there was a scene in a bar where Mulder sort of drunkenly explains who he is. We've done it in a very different way this time around, but I think we've managed to make it work both for people who are familiar and who are unfamiliar."
There are three actors new to the X-Files franchise who are said to have notable roles in the film, including Amanda Peet, rapper Xzibit and Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Spotnitz discussed each of these actors, explaining "Amanda Peet is an FBI agent, as is Xzibit. In Amanda Peet, we were looking for somebody who was Scully-like in a way – that intelligence, that intensity, that authority that Gillian Anderson naturally commands, so Amanda we thought, especially after seeing her in Studio 60 on television, we thought she was great for this role. Xzibit was just a discovery for us. We knew his music, but we didn't realize what a great actor he was. He's really fantastic. He's another FBI agent. I don't think you would picture him as an FBI agent normally. But he's really quite good."
Spotnitz continued, "Billy Connolly was the one person we had in mind before we wrote. We'd been fans of his… he's a very well known comedian in the UK, but we just love him as a dramatic actor. He'd done this movie Mrs. Brown, maybe ten years ago. This is not a funny role at all – I don't think there's a single laugh. It's a very dramatic, creepy role, central to the movie, and we wrote it for him and were able to get him. That was a dream come true for us."
So might this be the beginning of a new series of X-Files movies? When asked that question, Spotnitz replied "Hopefully! That would be nice. We had such a good time doing it, it would be nice to keep going."