‘The X-Files’ Creator Chris Carter on Scully and Mulder’s Return
First Twin Peaks was supposedly resurrected, and now the other greatest ’90s supernatural thriller is making a comeback.
On Tuesday, Fox announced a limited six-episode “event” of their beloved X-Files. Helmed by original series creator Chris Carter, the new miniseries will be bolstered by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising their roles as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the dynamic duo that chase down paranormal cases left in the FBI files, often to the chagrin of shadowy government forces.
“The X-Files was not only a seminal show for both the studio and the network, it was a worldwide phenomenon that shaped pop culture—yet remained a true gem for the legions of fans who embraced it from the beginning. We’re ecstatic to give them the next thrilling chapter of Mulder and Scully they’ve been waiting for,” Fox executives Dana Walden and Gary Newman said in a statement.
The series featured many indelible characters (Smoking Man, anyone?) and is the place where Vince Gilligan, who later created Breaking Bad, got his start as a TV writer—as well as the place where he met Bryan Cranston, who would later play Bad’s baddie Walter White, in the Season 6 episode “Drive.”
The X-Files spanned 202 episodes after nine seasons—as well as two feature films—and left the air back in 2002. While the airdate for the six-episode “event” has yet to be determined, shooting begins this June. We caught up with the show’s creator, Chris Carter, to get the background. The truth is, as they say, out there.
You must be having an exciting day.
Yeah, it just got exciting as you can imagine.
So what can we expect in the six episodes?
It’ll be honest to the characters, and what happened to them since the series ended and the second movie.
Will you personally be overseeing the scripts?
There are no scripts yet! But yes, I will be overseeing them, but with several people who have been working on the show over the years.
There’s a lot of X-Files mythology, will casual viewers be able to jump right in?
Yes. I like to think that anyone can enter this without much of a run-up. That said, you don’t want to have to hit the hardcore fans over the head getting them up to speed.
You must have the basic arc worked out in your head already.
I do, actually. I know what I want to do, how I want it to lay out—the balance of mythology to stand-alone episodes. Even though none of us have had contracts, I’ve only had one since yesterday, the people that are going to be involved have been talking since the beginning of the year, so we have a clear idea of how this should be, or the best way we think this should be laid out.
Does everyone involved, such as the actors, have a say in the stories?
The X-Files has always been a group achievement. You benefit by being open to people’s good ideas. The show wouldn’t be the show it is without the contribution of so many good people who work on it.
There have been a lot of ’90s reboots lately. Why do you think that is?
The cynical part of me says this is programming by feather duster. This is the stuff that’s worked before, and because its worked before there’s a possibility it can work again. The other part of me says that if something is good, that doesn’t necessarily mean its over. It’s not just sitting on the shelf gathering dust, its actually accruing value.
What was the process with making it happen? Was it hard to get the actors?
No, David and Gillian wanted to do it. It was kind of the perfect timing for everyone involved. We all had a space in which to do it, we all had a desire to tell these stories, and, as I said in the press release, I think the world’s gotten that much stranger in the last 13 years. For me, it’s an opportunity as a storyteller to take advantage of that. Everyone wanted to do it, and the negotiations actually began in November, and were finalized yesterday. I’d say that it was simply a matter of everyone agreeing to the ground rules.
And what are the ground rules?
[Laughs] You’ll have to ask the lawyers about that.
People have been pretty obsessive about the show. Do you ever read any of the fan fiction? The characters have definitely lived on in that realm.
Thank goodness for that! You know, I have to say, I work so hard to do what we do. While I’m flattered by that stuff and amused by it, I really try to stay away from anything that might influence what it is that I’m doing.
Over the past 13 years, have Mulder and Scully lived on inside your own head?
Every day. Every day I turn on the radio in the morning, I hear an X-Files story, or I pick up the paper and I see an X-Files story. So yes, the Mulder and Scully in my head are always switched on.
So this will take up a lot of your time. Does that mean that Area 51 won’t be going forward?
[Laughs] I don’t know, I can’t answer that question. But that said, I know this is my primary focus right now.
If these episodes do well, will we see another X-Files movie?
I think… First things first, we just want to do six great episodes. We’re all primed to do that, there are great stories to tell, and now it’s just distilling it down to telling the best stories possible in the time we have.