Creator Chris Carter and star David Duchovny talk about the upcoming film resurgence of their cult TV show.
In a summer that's seen the resurrection of the Hulk alongside the return of Hellboy, Indiana Jones and Batman, the most surprising and unexpected has to be the return of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully with "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" (opens July 25).
Even the show's fans feared that Chris Carter's influential paranormal investigative series that had spawned just one feature film a decade ago was neatly interred in a DVD boxed set with all nine seasons. But six years after the series went off the air, the FBI's most intriguing duo is back with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising the roles as FBI paranormal investigators that have defined their careers. It wasn't easy. Carter and 20th Century Fox had first planned a movie once the TV run finished in 2002. Only Carter's lawsuit over profits from the series blasted that off everyone's agenda. Not until years later with the lawsuit settled did Carter's phone ring with Fox saying, "Let's do the movie. It's now or never.”"
"We thought," Carter said smiling, "'Now is better than never.'"
"Now" is also when a generation of young moviegoers have never heard of or even seen an episode of "X-Files." While Duchovny has maintained high visibility and is currently starring in Showtime's sex-driven "Californication," Anderson's post-series career has been more stage oriented with art-house movies like "The House of Mirth." The duo's highly publicized contentious relationship during the series put another question mark into the mix.
Both stars, however, were eager to reboot and return. Duchovny, in fact, sees this as a launching pad not for just one final "hurrah," but a whole new film franchise. When the series ended, Duchovny said, "It was always my desire that the show would continue on in movie form. It was, 'Yes, we've done all we can on television. Let's take this into movies, like we always said we would.'"
Duchovny's hope is that there will now be a series of "X-Files" movies.
"I wouldn't see any reason to do this unless it were. It starts as a television show, which is a serial. The frame and the characters throw off an infinite number of stories and situations," he explained. "It's a classic, archetypal relationship with a believer and a nonbeliever, with this kind of unrequited love in the middle of it, and it all works. And that can work forever as long as your stories are good."
The burden of making it work—appealing to diehard fans and those multiplex attendess unencumbered by so much as a single episode—is Carter's.
"We do a very good job in terms of presenting the characters and the whole idea of 'The X-Files' to a whole new audience," he said during a pause in the four-month Vancouver, B.C., filming. "I've had five years to step back from this and what I realized is there are kids who are in college today who say, 'Oh, my parents used to watch "X-Files." Or, 'I never watched "X-Files," I was too young. My parents wouldn't let me watch it.' So I think there's a new audience to introduce it to. I hope we're doing a good job of giving them what they want—what they deserve."
While characteristically tight-lipped about the plot or any details, Carter is clear about what kind of "X-Files" movie he's made: "I'd say we're trying to scare the pants off of you, like a really good episode of 'X-Files.'"
While the film jumps directly through a thriller loop anyone can enjoy, Carter hopes to satisfy the fans who will appreciate the nuances as Scully and Mulder venture—yet again—into the unspeakably weird universe that is "The X-Files."
"It's what they have been through, their relationship and the arc of the show," Carter promised. We will believe.