'X-Files' looking for truth, audience

Psst, the truth is over here.

It's tough to find, but in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the P.N.E. Fairgrounds, beyond a roller coaster, past the movie-star trailers and craft-services tent, and on a set designed to resemble a California bungalow, The X-Files is flickering back to life.

It's here that the revered TV show's key players -- stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, director Chris Carter and producer Frank Spotnitz -- are reuniting for The X-Files: I Want To Believe. The film, opening Friday, is the second X-Files feature, after The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), and marks the first X-Files story since the series completed its nine-year run in 2002.

The bungalow is the home of Fox Mulder (Duchovny), the former FBI special agent and believer in government conspiracies and the existence of aliens.

In the scene being shot, Mulder is seated at his desk when his former partner and great love, Dana Scully (Anderson), walks up behind him.

"What's up, doc?" Mulder asks.

"You're becoming very trusting, Mulder," Scully says, "considering you're wanted by the FBI."

Carter shoots much of this scene from behind the actors' backs. Duchovny is turned away from the camera, as is Anderson.

It's a big moment in the movie, a major revelation. The characters exchange more dialogue until, finally, Mulder rises from his chair. When he does, there's no mistaking the poster behind him. It reads "I Want To Believe," and it was on view often during the course of the series.

The top-secret plot involves Mulder and Scully teaming anew to search for a missing FBI agent. The quest brings them in contact with a psychic (Billy Connolly) and more than a few things that go bump in the night.

"I think the reasoning behind being mum about what's going on, for Chris at least, is to give an audience an experience of surprise," Duchovny said.

"But, having said that, the themes are the same as what the show always was. The themes are about belief and faith and about the relationship between Mulder and Scully, and how that's developed (since) the show's been off the air, as if they've been living, as we've all been living.

"They've not been stuck in time," he said. "They've moved on in some fictional realm, just as we all have. And yet their issues remain the same."

Duchovny and Anderson weren't exactly close during the show's run. He was slightly older and considerably more experienced when the show premiered in 1993, and they were simply different personalities with different styles. Relations on the set now are, by Duchovny's assessment, "good," and the classic chemistry remains very much in evidence.

"We're aware that this is where the heart is," he said. "We have to trust each other to hold each other up in these scenes and to bring back whatever it was that was there."

Anderson is in full Scully mode, hair dyed red and the character's familiar cross dangling from her neck. The actress, who sought to distance herself from Scully after the show ended -- and did so, appearing in the British miniseries Bleak House (2005) and the film The Last King of Scotland (2006) -- admits that the character didn't come back to her as quickly or as easily as she had anticipated.

"I was really not so much cocky about it, but I was really confident that it would be really easy," Anderson said. "On the first day I wasn't afraid at all -- I usually am terrified before I start something -- and for the first couple of days, it sucked! It was horrible. I had a really, really hard first couple of days."

More than anyone, Spotnitz seems thrilled once again to be immersed in the X-Files universe. I Want To Believe has been a long time coming and, he acknowledges, he had begun to doubt that it ever would coalesce.

"We wanted to do this movie well before the series ended," he said. "That's when the Fox executives came and said that they wanted to do another movie. At that time we were still dealing with the series. The series ended, and we took some time. Then we began negotiations, and I think my deal has been done since 2002 or 2003. Negotiating David, Chris and Gillian took a very long time, and then there was a lawsuit and everything stopped.

When the lawsuit was finally resolved, Spotnitz and Carter wrote the I Want To Believe script, building on a concept they had hatched six years ago. Now, as the film rolls into theaters, one of the greatest mysteries surrounding the project will be answered: Do audiences still care about The X-Files?

"We felt like we had a really good story to tell," Spotnitz said. "How other people respond to that remains to be seen."

The challenge, Carter said, is to create a film that will appeal both to the show's loyal fans and to the general public, people who have perhaps never seen a single X-Files episode.

"It's funny," he said, "because I've had five years to step back from this.

"What I realized is that there are kids 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."

FONTE: The Columbus Dispatch (USA)


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