X-Files creator Chris Carter's pretty tight-lipped when it comes to revealing details about the upcoming second feature film based on his late beloved series, even refusing to comment much on the details we recently reported on. But Carter and the film's co-writer (and regular series scripter) Frank Spotnitz did hint at the tone and themes that their highly anticipated X-Files: I Want to Believe, due out in July, would contain--when they sat down to chat with us on Friday, Day 1 of the 2008 New York Comic Con...
When you look at everything that's going on at this convention--sci-fi, fantasy, horror--where do you think The X-Files fits?
Carter: It's funny, because I never thought of it as science-fiction in the beginning. I didn't like the label because I felt that it was not apt, that it was really speculative science. And it was a mystery show, and a mystery show about things that were within the realm of extreme possibility. So I think X-Files appeals to the smart people you see out there, but not necessarily as fans of fantasy or as fans of what I would call futuristic or more far-out science fiction. It's a much more close-to-home approach to the genre.
Spotnitz: I think X-Files is at the far end of the spectrum, because it's trying to be realistic. It's trying to make you think. All these fantastic things might really be happening in the world where we live, and that's not the approach with the vast majority of the things that you see out there today. I think honestly that's the secret to the X-Files' broad appeal, especially on network television, where it's hard to launch genre storytelling successfully. It really was like a police drama. It just happened that the bad guys were monsters.
There were a lot of visual effects in the show, done in a very naturalistic way. Will we see more of that in this film? What kind of effects will you use?
Carter: There are effects, green-screen effects and other effects. But they are minimal compared to what I would call a typical summer blockbuster. They are in service to a story, they aren't the story.
At what stage of the production are you right now?
Carter: We're at the editing stage.
How much of that stage remains?
Carter: About a month.
Has the dynamic you've enjoyed with David and Gillian changed over time? Have you noticed a difference?
Spotnitz: I think it's interesting when you come back to something that was a big success six years later. It's like you're all united by an increasingly pleasant experience, because the pain and the difficulty that you experience doing it fades, and you just are left with the legacy, which in this case seems to be a positive one. So it makes it easier. And doing a movie, as grueling as it is, is nothing like having to do a TV series ten months out of the year. So I really sensed a lot of warmth and happiness to be there. And it was remarkable to me, from the moment that David and Gillian sat down in Chris's kitchen to read the script aloud, you could feel their chemistry again. It was just there for the reigniting. So I do know, because they talked about it, that it was harder than they thought to get back into the characters. Because they'd spent six years trying not to be those people, and now they had to sort of reimbrace something they'd tried to step away from, and imagine those same people six years later. It was more challenging than they thought it would be.
David's a writer. Did he have much input?
Carter: Always, always, into the character and the story, the dispensing of information, talking about changing things. But that's a very natural part of the process. They have to embody these characters. They have to actually perform the parts in a way that writers or directors don't. So in going through it and internalizing it and putting it into the flesh and blood, they see things that sometimes writers overlook; and it's a very helpful part of the process.
You've compared this film to Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist. Did that type of horror film, from the '60s and '70s, inspire the direction of this movie?
Carter: I'd have to say that it had to have, because those are two of my favorite movies. And two of the scariest movies ever made. This is a PG-13 movie, so I can't be as graphic as those movies, but I certainly hope to scare people in a way that would be reminscent of those movies.
Do any of today's horror films interest you?
Carter: It depends on what you'd call horror. Was The Ring horror? The Ring was scary. So yeah, there are movies that inspire me.
Do you feel the current movie audience is going to be just as receptive to the themes of governmental distrust that The X-Files presented?
Carter: They might be, but it's not that kind of story.
What about the technological changes? In the series, Mulder and Scully were always on their cell phones...
Carter: Now they just text each other. [Laughs.]
It appears the film presents once more the series' theme of science and religion butting heads, as opposed to the govermental distrust. Is that in any way a reaction to the changing state of government in this country? When the show was in production it seemed like people had fewer issues with the government than they do today.
Carter: I think they did have issues. I think we were living in a post-Watergate world that was still mistrustful of authority and power and the abuse of it all. So I think that you always take those things into consideration, you don't want to forsake the audience just because it interests you. But I think that we've come a long way from 2001.
Spotnitz: Yeah, I agree with that.
Carter: It's hard not to agree with it actually. [Laughs.]
Note: For more X-Files goodness from Comic Con, be sure to check out the photos of Carter and Spotnitz in the gallery of images we've compiled from Friday, Day 1, of the convention. And keep checking back--we'll have a separate, entirely exclusive video interview with Carter and Spotnitz up soon. Don't stop believing, X-Files fans!