'X-Files 2' producer, co-writer and director
A few us stumbled upon Chris Carter in the catering tent early afternoon. We had him cornered. And caught off guard with a pastry hanging from his mouth. No better time for him to slip and actually give us some real answers about X-Files 2. Yet all we—the cream of the movie news press—could rally was a hard hitting probe regarding Larry, Carter's enormous standard poodle that'd been roaming the set.
The sun is melting into an oil slick now. Several reporters grumble about the ever-increasing possibility of missing their flights. Carter has been promised to us all day. But he's been busy helming an 8-figure budgeted film. Plus we got the scoop on the poodle; what else do we need to know? Yet, at the last moment, the lanky figure of Carter strides to our table and grabs a seat.
We only have a few minutes. Carter appears tired, unshaven for a couple of days and fish hooks of hair curl out from his grey mane. If the future of The X-Files franchise hinged on my film, personal grooming would be a second-tier concern for me too. Despite the fatigued facade, Carter handles the Tommy gun questioning with zeal. Yet, the interview concludes when David Duchovny comes out from the set and says he has to talk to Carter. "Chris, I just want to talk to you for one second. I'm not playing a joke." Somehow this has the feeling of a friend helping his buddy get out of a blind date. Yeah, I'll call you half-way through and say there's a family emergency. However before suddenly exiting, Carter still discusses why the film is happening now and the reasoning behind the sequel's I-could-tell-you-but-then-I'd-have-to-kill-you secrecy.
We heard that it was a settlement of a lawsuit that put this movie back on track finally after several years of being on hold.
Chris Carter (CC): Uh, basically Fox kept coming to Frank Spotnitz and me and asked us to do the movie—I think it was about a year after the TV series had wrapped. And we said 'yes.' We worked out a story. We pitched it to them. They said yes. We went into negotiations. Negotiations got kind of; I'd call it protracted. And all of sudden there was this other—how should I put it—issue. And that took a couple of years to resolve. It was like I was hanging up the phone hearing it was resolved and the phone was ringing saying let's do this movie.
Can you talk about returning to the material this long afterwards? Why an X-Files movie right now and what's changed?
CC: We always wanted to do it. And they kind of said now or never. So it was really a choice: now or never. So we thought now is better than never.
How do you keep it relevant in our times? It was such a '90s thing.
CC: I hope it's a timeless thing. I hope it's not a '90s thing. And I think you'll see the story we're telling is, I think, actually as relevant—it's relevant to the time and that place we're at.
Can you give us some sense of story? What we're going to see or at least a feeling for what's going on?
CC: Yes I can. But not right now.
What's the mix of horror to character development?
CC: I'd say we're trying to scare the pants off of you like a really good episode of X-Files. It's not a mythology episode. But it owes to the characters' lives—what they've been through, their relationship, and the arc of the show.
And why doesn't it have a title?
CC: It does.
But you won't tell us?
CC: I can't tell you.
Is that [because] of the Internet today?
CC: Yeah, you know, everyone sees it. And there're spoiler sites and people running around with cameras. Everyone wants to spoil everyone's good fun. And I don't think the audience actually benefits from this. I think they actually suffer. And so if I'm trying to tell a really good story—I'd liken it to Christmas—I want that Christmas present opened on Christmas morning. You can shake it. You can put a stethoscope to it. You can put it up to the light. That's fine. But don't open it until Christmas morning.
So those werewolf photos on the web, were those bogus?
CC: We had photographers come and take pictures—actually there was a point that very night when our cameraman said, 'Photographer 400 millimeter lens.' It was like he had spotted a sniper. And actually the first night there were images that came out on the Internet.
So are those fake, those werewolf things? [The question is in regards to the pics of a guy in a werewolf costume that'd hit the Internet a few weeks earlier.]
CC: Actually, I'm sworn to secrecy.
You wish they were fake.
CC: I wish I didn't have so many people trying to spoil our fun.
What's the balance of fans to new audience in terms of telling the story?
CC: You know what? It's for everyone. We do a really good job, I think, presenting the characters and the whole idea of The X-Files to a whole new audience. It's funny because I've had 5 years to sort of step back from this and what I realize is there is a whole, there are kids in college now who say, 'Oh yeah, my parents use to watch X-Files.' Or 'I never watched The X-Files. I was too young. My parents wouldn't let me watch it.' So I think there is a new audience to introduce it to. And I hope that we're doing a good job of giving them what they want and what they deserve.
Do you need to service the fans in a certain way for the things they expect to see?
CC: Yeah. I think one of the big reasons that we're doing this is because the fans said they wanted it. And people put up billboards, ads, and there was a huge—I'd call it—vibe out there. You could feel people out there in the chat rooms and the Internet.
Is this set up for more movies? Would you like to do more movies?
CC: I'd like to do this movie really well. And then people say, 'We want more." So, I want to do a good job here and then let that dictate.
Is there [something] that you could describe that this movie is like in a certain way?
CC: It's funny. I think that there were so many good episodes. I think the first 3 seasons really laid the foundation for the rest of the show. So, I think if you look at season 1, 2, or 3, you'd probably see connections to what you're going to see in this movie. I always say season 3, I think, was the best season. I think season 1, 2, and 3 are really what set us up to be a long lasting TV show.
So will David [Duchovny] be in a red Speedo again?
CC: I wouldn't count that out.
So do you think doing something scary makes it more it more accessible, given this climate with a lot of horror films doing so great?
CC: We had a conversation. I said to [President and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment] Tom Rothman. I said, 'It's amazing to see how well movies like Saw are doing.' He says, he thinks that's run its course. I said, 'I don't know. I mean the audience is ever changing.' You have to be mindful of that.