It’s easy to take for granted the wealth of high quality programming on our weekly TV schedule, but back in the 90’s it was pretty slim pickings. The X-Files was always a show that stood above its peers, bringing genre fare to a primetime slot and proving that intelligent, daring shows could find a mass audience regardless of subject matter. For the shows 20th anniversary stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, Creator Chris Carter, and writers Vince Gilligan, Howard Gordon, Darin Morgan, John Shiban, James Wong, David Amann, and Glen Morgan presented a panel to a packed house of impassioned fans. Hit the jump for the panel recap.
The panel was hosted by TV Guide and they kicked things off with a look at the various X-Files covers over the years to thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd. The writers were then brought to the stage and after a flashback look at the series’ original opening titles Duchovny and Anderson walked out on the darkened stage flashlights in hand, which put the fans in a state of frenzy. Once the crowd regained its composure the panel began.
When asked what she realizes about their characters now that 20 years have passed, Anderson replied, “I guess I didn’t realize that Mulder was so cool until a few years later and I thought, ‘Damn. I should have gotten there sooner.’”
Gilligan recalled his first experience watching the show as a fan, “By the end of the first commercial break, I was hooked.” Adding, “”There’d be no ‘Breaking Bad’ without ‘The X-Files… I was just lucky as hell that I was part of it.”
Duchovny cited the strength of The X-Files as the fact that “the show had any possibility. The show is so flexible and could encompass any ideas. We could do it forever.”
So how are things looking for a future X-Files project? “I always thought whenever we can come back together, we would, as much as we can, so we will,” Duchovny says. When asked if they pull a 24 and come back for a limited season Anderson promptly and emphatically replied “No. But, a film would be great.” Finally, when asked if a third film was in the cards Carter replied, “You need a reason to get excited about going on and doing it again, because it’s hard, hard work, but this is very exciting.”
We learned that Shiban’s son played Scully’s baby. Turns out the (rather grown up) son was backstage and came out to say hello to the crowd. Anderson joked, “He looks like me. That’s our son.”
On the connection between the comic book and the series Carter said, “It’s a comic book series, so I think the stories really are more comic book-y,” he continued, “It’s called ‘Season 10’, but the comics have their own mythology.”
When the writers were asked about the decision to kill the Lone Gunmen, Gilligan revealed “We had a big argument about that.” Shiban explained, “They’re just such amazing characters…When the Lone Gunmen series was not picked up, that’s when the discussion started. He also said that they had an “honorable death”.
Morgan & Wong about “Home”, a somewhat infamous episode that was critically well received, but pulled from the air after its first showing. Morgan went into a rather detailed description of the sources that influenced the episode, citing “Brother’s Keeper” by Berlinger and Sinofsky, the book “Dark Nature, and Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography. From Chaplin’s autobiography he recalled a story about a family that kept their son, who had no arms or legs, rolled under the bed. Morgan said, “It had one airing and then it was banned. Jim and I don’t get rerun money for that.” He also wanted people to know that “there was a point behind it and I’m glad we did it.”
Duchovny pinpoints a scene from “Postmodern Prometheus” as his favorite Mulder/Scully moment. On the scene, in which the pair go off to dance, Duchovny said, “That just had a great feeling to it.”
The panel was then asked their favorite villains from the show’s run. Going down the line: Amann liked the Tom Noonan character, Roche, from “Paper Hearts.” Gilligan liked the central antagonist played by Peter Boyle, Clarifying that “He was obviously not the bad guy, but the engine of story in that episode.” Gilligan also cited Bryan Cranston’s turn as Patrick Krump in “Drive”. “That was fruitful for me personally, meeting Bryan Cranston on ‘The X-Files.’” Darin Morgan picked himself, saying his favorites were Flukeman and Eddie Van Blundht, both of which he played. Glen Morgan and Gillian Anderson both chose Eugene Victor Tooms. Duchovny replied with humor, recalling the early days of CGI and having to act opposite a tennis ball. When the actor finally came out in costume the director said, “He looked the like guy who fucked Mrs Butterworth.” Carter singled out The Peacock Brothers The Well-Manicured Man played by John Neville.
When asked about the “butt genie” Shiban said it was based on an Indian fakir, which would crawl in through your ear. Shiban explained the change, “Chris heard the pitch and he was like, ‘It would be scarier if he went in his ass,’”
Vince Gilligan revealed that he attempted to get Drew Barrymore on the show after Home Fries for an episode based on a story from Twilight Zone in which a kid could wish people into the corn-field. It didn’t work out because “Her agent called me up and said, ‘Stop bothering my client.”
When asked when exactly Mulder and Scully fell in love Carter charmed the audience by saying, “I think it was when you first walked into his office in the basement.”
On how Scully changed the way female characters were portrayed in the genre Anderson said, “Scully had quite a huge impact on people from aspects of her personality and her personal strength and things she stood up for. But she was also a decent human being. People listened to her and she got to boss people around,” On writing Scully Carter said, “Scully was kind of my fantasy woman. She was strong and smart and opinionated and tough and resourceful. All of those things that I like.” He also called Mulder and Scully a fantasy relationship in that it was based on an intellectual meeting of minds as much as anything else.
Carter Explained why he made Scully religious, “It was a natural for me, because she was a scientist, but that made her character a sort if one-dimensional character, but if she had a religious upbringing, that was always tearing at her.”
When asked which city they most liked shooting in Duchovny picked Vancouver saying, “I think nostalgically, that’ll be for me the ‘X-Files’ home…The energy of beginnings and getting to know all of these people, and just starting something where we didn’t know what it was going to be.” Anderson agreed, but said that new families formed in every town.
On the way her character influenced women all over the world Anderson said, “A lot of women actually have come up and told me that she went into physics because of Scully,” She also talked about something called The Scully Effect, which was a textbook’s explanation for a notable increase in female scientists. Duchovny joked, “Men often come up to me and tell me that they got into Scully because of Mulder,”
The show started in the post-Cold War Era and Carter said that the show remains relevant “The suspicions and the conspiracy theories are rampant today, so I think that if ‘The X-Files’ were to come back now, you could do the show now,” but in 2002, after 9-11 “We went through a period there where I think ‘The X-Files’” was not-relevant,” saying that at that time people needed to have faith in the government.
When asked about her return to television Anderson said it’s “just all about timing” and cited the huge time commitments as her reason for quitting TV initially. On her Hannibal character Bedelia Du Maurier Anderson explained that she initially just signed up for a 3 episode guest arc, but liked the character and had so much fun working with Mads Mikkelson that she decided to stay on longer.
Will we ever see Anderson and Duchovny work together outside of the “X-Files” univers?” Duchovny says that the relationship between Mulder and Scully was almost sacred and it would have to be something really special to make that happen.