Chris Carter Can’t Act

The X-Files Lexicon was lucky enough to gain a spot on the press line before the X-Files panel at Paleyfest in Hollywood on Wednesday, March 25, 2008. For some cast members, it was a first reunion since the show ended. Everybody was in good spirits and eager to talk with us. But as usual, the brain trust, Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, were tight-lipped regarding any details about the upcoming X-Files movie. Here’s how it panned out.


Lisa: Which episodes, if any, does the new movie share its tone with?
FS: I have to say, there is no episode exactly like this. Which is probably a good thing. Because they’ve changed as characters – they’re not in the same place they were as characters, ever. And we’ve changed, so it’s got a different feel than the show did. They’re the same people, but they’re 6 years older, they’re in different places in their life. And one of the reasons we liked the idea of this movie is because it wasn’t exactly like anything we’ve done in the show. So I’d be hard pressed to find an episode like that.

Lisa: Did the writers strike and the quick turnaround time affect the mood on set?
FS: No, we were actually sort of grateful to be isolated and away from it all. I was talking to some of my friends who were walking the picket line every day and we were so blessed to have work to do while this was going on. In this situation when the producers are the writers, they’re usually pretty happy with their script, so it’s not like there were things we wanted to change. I guess the biggest impact was that even if they had wanted to, the studio couldn’t have changed anything. But no, I would say there was no impact otherwise.
CC: It had no effect on the mood on the set. We had our schedule, we had our budget--everything was laid out and we did it as if there was no strike, meaning that we finished the script before the strike. Although there were certain limitations. You couldn’t write things for the actors while the strike was on, so you had to improvise in some cases. I think we were very honest about that. So that was a wrinkle in the usual approach. It was just a hard job to do and we did it – there were parts that were hard. The degree of difficulty was upped because we’re shooting in snow. So that was a trick.

Lisa: What lead you to cast Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet, and Xzibit?
FS: Billy Connolly we had talked about for years as somebody we loved. He’s really, really funny but he’s also a really great dramatic actor. There was a movie we had seen years ago called Mrs. Brown he did, so we actually wrote the part with him in mind. And it was just amazing it worked out that we were actually able to cast him. Amanda Peet--we were looking for someone who was Scully-like in a way; who was convincing as an intelligent, demanding character of authority. Especially after seeing her in Studio 60, we thought she’d be amazing, and she was. And then the real surprise was Xzibit. Because Chris knows a lot more about him than I do, but we both knew him from years ago when he did a song that mentioned The X-Files, but I didn’t know him as an actor actually, and he came in to read and he was great. And he just won the part and was great, and turns out to be just a great guy, [and] a pleasure to work with as well.

Lisa: How was the dynamic between David and Gillian and the new cast members?
FS: Very warm and fun. The work was hard. There were a lot of nights and a lot of cold, but you know everybody wanted to be there. And there are sets where that isn’t the case, and that wasn’t our set. There was a lot of humor--especially Billy who is always funny. And no attitude, you know. They were there to work. It was just very nice.
CC: It was great. Everyone got along. (Utopian movie!) Absolutely.

Lisa: Were there any funny moments on the movie set that stuck out in your mind?
CC: I have to say Amanda Peet dancing sticks out in my mind because she is such a good dancer, but she’s a funny dancer. She is a really funny girl and so her dancing really made me laugh. Billy Connolly is always -- he’s the most natural entertainer I have ever met. He really sets a tone. And then of course David is one of the sharpest, wittiest people I know. And Gillian is one of the loveliest people I know. And Xzibit has kind of an infectious laugh. You know it’s amazing. Not only did we cast the right people in the parts, but they all helped to make it a pleasure.

Lisa: Is there anything you think the audience may have misinterpreted during the series?
FS: Nothing. I think the fans are incredibly smart, and the fans were a great asset to us as the show was going on. I’d frequently look online to see how things were being understood, especially after the mythology episodes, to see what people were confused about, and whether they were guessing where we were going correctly and I think we were one of the first shows--if not the first show--that benefited from the online fan base. And they helped enable the show’s popularity. I think as the internet got more mature, then you started to see more of the trolls, the snarkiness, and it became less fun than it was in the early days. But you know, there’s also a great diversity of opinion among the fans. So I have no complaints about the fans, I’m actually sort of amazed that the mythology of the show was understood to the degree it was.
CC: I don’t know if there was any misinterpretation. I know there were people who objected to certain things certainly going into the last few years, but we made choices that we felt were thoughtful and considerate and good for the show. I’m still proud of the work we did right up to the very end.

Lisa: To this day, fans still debate over when Mulder and Scully actually consummated their relationship. Care to clear the air?
FS: Unthinkable as this may be, I can’t remember the episode. I’d have to go back and look. There’s an episode that it’s pretty clear they’re spending the night together. But we never said it. I should probably start by saying that. Season 7. I think it was All Things. That’s what I think. But because we never said it, it’s subject to revision. That’s what I think.
CC: We never were clear about it. There was a suggestion of when it was. I’ll leave it at that. We keep these things vague because they’re better vague. They’re better vague and keep everyone guessing and everyone talking about it. I’d rather have it like life itself – where the truth is very hard to come by and everyone has their own perspective and/or take on these things so I’ll leave it at that.

Lisa: What do you think of all these supposed spoilers circulating on the Internet?
FS: I’m delighted. I’m delighted by all the confusion and there’s a lot of bad information out there and nobody knows what to believe and from my standpoint that’s absolutely perfect. And I wouldn’t want to do anything to clear it up. I’m happy to tell everyone on July 25 what, if anything we planted. But until then I think there’s just the element of surprise that we’re eager to encourage.


Lisa: Is there any truth to the rumor that you appear in X-Files 2?
You know, what they’ve done is they’ve asked everyone who was on the show not to confirm or deny if they’re in the movie to maintain whatever surprise factor. So I can’t talk about that.

Lisa: What were some of your favorite funny moments from the show?
We had so many. (At this point, Carter, who had been standing close by, moves away.) Ok, now that he’s gone I’ll tell you the real story. There was one time that – no I don’t know if I should tell this story (come on, Mitch). Ok. So this one time Chris put himself in an episode as one of the FBI agents at the conference table in my office. So he cut his hair, and he wrote himself a little bit of dialogue, and as we were shooting it, he was having a hard time getting the lines out, so he kept cutting the lines as he was going. I said, “Well, can we do that?” And then after he finished he said, “Ok, now I know why you guys get paid so much.” But it was very funny and it was cool.

Lisa: How does it feel to do an X-Files event so long after the series ended?
Seeing these people, because they were such a big part of my life, it’s almost like they never left. So it’s really cool to see them and hang out with them and to be able to talk about the X-Files again, which I haven’t been able to do in a while.

Lisa: What’s next for you?
I did a pilot for FX and it’s called Sons of Anarchy, and it’s pretty cool. And it’s a character I haven’t played in a long time. He’s a bad, really bad man. He’s like a white supremacist who’s head of this gang that deals meth. So he’s really bad. Tattoos and all, he’s just come out of prison and there’s a motorcycle gang, and they all patrol this small town. So if that goes anywhere it’d be cool to do that. I just read for another pilot Geena Davis is doing. One of the writers and creators, Jeff Bell, was one of the executive producers on Daybreak, which I worked on. I’d like to get another series.

Do you keep up with XF actors, like this man (I point out Nick Lea playing with Carter’s dog a few feet away)
I haven’t seen Nick in years. (He excuses himself to hug Lea and returns) That’s what it’s about.

Do you keep in touch with anyone else?
No, I don’t, not really. I mean I’ve worked with a lot of the crew from both here and Vancouver over the years. On Daybreak a lot of the crew is X-Files, which is so cool. It’s so cool to be able to work with those people again. And I worked with Rob Bowman on Daybrea as well. Duchovny was best man at my wedding, and he told my wife she didn’t have to go through with it (laughs). Gill’s in England, David’s in Malibu, and I’m not. So it’s hard to maintain relationships. Sometimes you have every intention to, but you can’t do it.
MP: So the fans are psyched about the movie?

Lisa: They want the Skinman to come back so bad.
MP: I hope they’re not too disappointed. We’re hoping it works out so they can do another movie. (He stops to think about fan encounters) A few years ago, a bunch of fans came to town to celebrate someone’s birthday, and somehow I found out where they were going to be, and I called the restaurant to talk to them. It was great, it was funny.


Before talking to Nick, I was treated to his best Mulder impression and a nice reunion with Dean Haglund, during which they discussed upcoming projects and Dean’s chill pak.

Lisa: Do you have any insider info about new movie?
I know nothing. I am under lock and key. If I could I would, but I can’t. Unless you want to see me in court.

Lisa: What are some of your favorite moments from the series?
That’s a tough one to answer, because people are sort of looking for an answer to that and there really isn’t one. I would write a list for you, of all the great stuff we got to do. I loved shooting outside. We shot so much stuff outside. But the thing you remember at the end of the day is the people. And that’s what comes to mind when I think of the show. I think of the people.



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