The newest guest star to be added to the as yet untitled second X-Files motion picture is none other than writer, producer and actor Spencer Maybee. The Toronto native, who plays the father of terminally ill Christian in the latest installment of the X-Files franchise, charmed the pants of the XFN staff. XFN contributor gunmetal had the opportunity to talk to Maybee about rugby, music and that certain X-Files movie. Additionally, Spencer even provided us with two pictures -- the short haired one is his look for the movie!
XFN: What was it like to film at the famously haunted Riverview Hospital?
I’ve worked there a couple of times before and it’s an amazing insight to see how mental institutions were constructed at the turn of the 20th century. It was a perfect place to shoot an X-Files movie and I believe they shot much of the series there as well. You can feel a kind of residue in the rooms. It gets a little lighter in the halls, but when you wander around and step into the rooms where patients were locked up you can feel that a lot of anguish went on in those rooms.
XFN: What kind of security measures did you have to go through in order to protect the secrecy of the movie?
Well, we weren’t given copies of the script. We were only privy to the scenes we were in. On set, they give you your sides with your name printed on every red page – they print them on red paper so that photocopying is made much more difficult. Then they collect your sides from you at the end of the day. Characters are named a bunch of different things scene to scene, so even if you did get a copy of something, you’d have no idea who was who. I was thoroughly impressed. I think they’ve done a fine job of keeping it under wraps.
XFN: Spencer your son Christian in the movie has a physical disability which is true of your co-star Marco . Did this inform your performance?
Marco was a really solid professional on set, and I have to say, that helps more than anything else when it comes to getting into character. I think the crews and the lights and all the equipment could have really thrown off any other kid, but Marco just took everything in like a young Al Pacino. The crew had pitched in to buy him a PS2, which he’d play around with sometimes between scenes or when he wasn’t needed and so we talked video games. Bonding with him a little over Grand Theft Auto kind of helped me feel like a young dad.
XFN: You mentioned previously that you worked with Gillian Anderson. Can you tell us what it was like to work with her? Had you any expectations?
She was a real joy to work with, a professional through and through, and really nice on top of it all. She was very present and grounded in the world of the story, which made it easier to ground myself and be the person that I’m supposed to be. I was excited to work with her because I’d watched the show a little when I was growing up and friends from school were really into the show, so I was really aware that I’d be working with the definite article.
XFN: You had somewhat emotional scenes in this movie. Is it important when you share those scenes with someone like Carrie Ruscheinsky that you are both on the same page so to speak?
It’s not so much that we’re on the same page that’s important, but rather that we’re both materially invested in the imaginary world of the story. We could have been ideologically divided and the scene still would work, as long as we’re both there, grounded in the accepted realities of that world. Carrie was great to work with, because we had the time together off set to build a fast rapport. We became fast friends and, I think knowing that you’re supposed to be a young married couple going through a really hard time, you don’t really hold onto common vulnerabilities. We could really count on each other to be steady for one another as the people we portray in the film would be.
XFN: Was the script you read for the audition the one you ultimately ended up working with
There were some significant and subtle changes, but for the most part, I think, my scenes remained substantially the same. Which was good, because after the callbacks, I didn’t see my scenes until the day before we shot.
XFN: (totally self indulgent question on my part) I noticed that you also play/played rugby. I play lock. Which position did you play? Any injury/war stories?
I played a season for my high school team after a couple of years of my brother forcing me to be his tackle dummy. I was an outside center. Yeah. A back. I also didn’t really know the rules until after I got ejected from the odd game for illegal tackles.
XFN: We read that you are an admirer of the artist Edward Hopper. Which is your favorite painting of his and why?
I love these questions, by the way. If I had to pick one that is my favourite, it might be cliche, but I’d still call it Nighthawks because of the subject matter – night owls at a diner – which I resonate with, but also because of his treatment, the quiet dignity that he gives each colour, the soft light on the walls inside the diner – which reminds me of the Apple Pan in LA – and how it glows like a beacon to these three moths and the guy that works there. Even little details that Hopper uses with restraint – the ad for Phillie blunts on the top of the diner – without it, the street becomes a little lego-land, but the detail gives you enough to accept that they’re there, but to know you should forget about the ones you don’t see. And then there are the stories: Who are these people? What’s with the loner? The guy facing us – is he with that girl in the red dress? When did the guy behind the counter start? When’s he off? He doesn’t look like he minds his work much. I like that about him. I like that every other shop window is dark. That you can see the Dixie cup holders on the counter behind him. It has a lot of the things that I love about some of his other paintings – Chop Suey, New York Movie, Hotel Room, and Summer Evening for a few examples – but they’re all there in the one, and it resonates with me because I feel like I know these people, the ones who live late, later even than the bar crowds who have even have gone home. I stay up through the night pretty frequently and tend to sleep in the day, usually from around 6 or 7AM until about 10 or 11AM. I used to have hamsters as pets when I was a kid and they’re nocturnal. I wonder if I’d had dogs or cats if I’d be one of those people who wakes up at the crack of dawn, goes for a walk and reads the paper.
XFN: If one song could sum up your time/experience working on XF2 what would it be?
These are by far some of the coolest questions I’ve ever been asked. (See how I slipped that in there like I’ve been interviewed a lot? I’m starting to get the hang of this interview thing.) I’d have to say it’d be two contiguous tracks from Vangelis’ soundtrack for Chariots of Fire – “100 Metres” and “Jerusalem”. Turn off the lights and listen to them loud enough that the sound fills the room. Then imagine yourself in a religious hospital or an old 1904 insane asylum hearing bits of hope about your child’s poor health and then having those bits shattered here and there. The expression “holy lamb of God” as sung by a choir in the song “Jerusalem” really evokes the stakes for me.
*Spencer kindly provided XFN with this music!
XFN: Finally Spencer, this may very well be the final installment of one of if not the most iconic tv shows of the 90's. How does it feel to be immortalized as part of that franchise?
It’s a great honour. Really the joy and honour come from having the opportunity to work with such great people, but to be able to participate in the telling of a part of a story that has such breadth and depth and such implications beyond its own material is kind of like being asked to be the praying hand model for Albrecht D¸rer.