These days, every major genre film and hit show has a significant presence on the Internet, but that wasn’t the case when "The X-Files" became a spooky sensation in the 1990s. David Duchovny said that, like his character Fox Mulder, the relentless faith of true believers is astounding to behold.
" 'The X-Files' was said to be the first Internet show," Duchovny said over coffee on a recent morning in Los Angeles. "We had chat rooms and fan sites and all that. Look, I’m usually five or six years behind whatever is hip. So it was around 2000 that I started doing e-mail and finally started understanding what all that was about."
And what was it about? The answer is religion, apparently.
"My initial response — and I still hold this to be true — is that it takes the place of some of the functions of a church in a small town: A place where people come together, ostensibly to worship something. But really what’s happening is you’re forming a community. It’s less about what you’re worshiping and more about, ‘We have these interests in common.’ Someone has a sick aunt and suddenly it’s about that, raising money to help her or sharing resources to make her life easier. That’s what it was about with 'The X-Files' on the Internet."
Duchovny and co-star Gillian Anderson are back on autopsy and trench-coat duty on July 25 as "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" pulls the FBI tandem away from the complicated conspiracy plots of the old series and puts them in the "monster of the week" mode of investigating an isolated supernatural threat.
Duchovny said that he has come to view the most loyal fans of the show as celebrants of self, not of celebrity.
"When I was at Comic-Con it felt the same as the small-town church thing. I’m not denigrating 'The X-Files,' but that fellowship isn’t essentially about the show. The fans came to Comic-Con to honor us but I think they’re honoring us because we inspire them to have a certain kind of fellowship. Now, I’m not saying we’re not worthy of that kind of honor. I want to be clear about that.”
Oh, that’s very clear; essentially, his point is that "The X-Files" is bigger than God and religion, right? "No, no! You’re going to get me in trouble. I didn’t say bigger than God. I said 'The X-Files' is equal to God."