Paranormal Phenomenon Omnibus

"The Truth Awakens and Arrives"

The X-Files Lexicon's exclusive report with interviews of the red carpet debut of The X-Files series episode “My Struggle”.

Covered by Matt Allair on Jan 12, 2016
Page Editor: Liz Tray

I believe in the art of the possible. In 2006, when The X-Files Lexicon was not yet a year old, I could never have imagined that by 2008 we would see a second X-Files feature, I Want To Believe, yet it did happen, and this website and a great many fans were a part of it. Then there was another large gap, and during that time Vince Gilligan went on to great, life-changing success with Breaking Bad, Howard Gordon went from showrunning 24 to developing his own series for Showtime, Homeland, along with another alumni Alex Gansa, to resounding success. John Shiban went on to work on Hell On Wheels. The students had gone on to become masters. David Duchvony had experienced great success with Showtime's Californication, and had branched out to directing, later later creatively co-producing NBC's Aquarius. Gillian Anderson has gone on to conquer both stage (A Streetcar named Desire and more) and screen (Bleak House, The Fall), coming full circle by appearing in Hannibal (whose Clarice character, lest we forget, Scully was based on.) The odds of something happening as far as anything to do withThe X-Files seemed so slim, and yet here we are.

I first started watching the show in the 90s as a kid. I was terrified of the monsters – to an 8-year-old, the Flukeman was a horror beyond reckoning – but I was also rapt. The X-Files stoked my curiosity and my imagination, illuminating how big the world is and all the shadows in its many dark corners.
All of which leads me to say: There are so many more, new dark corners for Mulder and Scully to explore with their flashlight beams.
The event originally billed Chris Carter as the special guest, but at the last minute he was unable to make it. Glen stepped in and emceed, speaking for a few minutes about the miniseries. He first explained how CC and company landed on the six-episode miniseries format (he actually credited actor David Duchovny with the idea). Because of the new flexibility in TV programming, there was freedom to make it work with everyone's schedules. Glen noted that, additionally, mid-size movies don't really exist in the film marketplace right now and it made more sense to produce a TV vehicle all round.

In the summer of 2015 new episodes were filmed in Vancouver with many of the old players: Chris Carter, Glen Morgan, Darin Morgan, James Wong, director of photography Joel Ransom, composer Mark Snow, production designer Mark Freeborn, and editor Heather MacDougall. Not only were David and Gillian back, so were Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis, Sheila Larken, Tom Braidwood, Bruce Harwood, Dean Haglund, Annabeth Gish, and Jeff Gulka. As well as new faces like Kumail Nanjiani, Joel McHale, Rance Howard, Robbie Amell, and Lauren Ambrose. Now we are days away, as of this writing, from the new episodes being revealed in 2016.

Credit must go to a great many people; for one, the long-term fans who had faith, another to a new regime of executives at 20th Century Fox television for having the vision to take this gamble. Another to the cast and crew, who had the faith to come back on board. And to the architect himself, Chris Carter, for taking the time, and waiting for the right moment, the most apt moment to bring this series back. It arrives at just the right time. It should not escape anyone's attention that the two biggest, game-changing franchises would come back around the same time. Star Wars and The X-Files. The reasons could be many, but I suspect that the public instinctively wants something deeper.

Red Carpet Coverage: Interviews

I arrived and dutifully got in line at the red carpet press line. It should not go unnoticed that The X-Files Lexicon and X-Files News were the only two fan sites in the press line, when the rest were major media outlets, pretty unprecedented indeed. I stumbled upon Matt Hurwitz, co-author of The Complete X-Files, and we chatted before the work began. The following was in order; some interviews will reappear in more expanded interviews with such talent.

William B. Davis Interview

Matt: You shot the new episodes in Vancouver, as well as L.A., throughout the whole series, was it an interesting experience to go back to Vancouver?

William: Well, Vancouver is home for me, so that's where it feels right for me, what feels right for the show. Everybody feels at home there, it fits in that environment so well, I enjoyed shooting here (L.A.), and it was interesting to do, but The X-Files and that climate... I can't imagine doing it somewhere else actually, I just assumed if they did it again they'd do it in Vancouver; it never even crossed my mind to think [otherwise].

Mitch Pileggi Interview

How would you describe Walter Skinner in the new episodes, as a character? Is he in a different place than when we last saw him in 2008?

Mitch: He's in the same office, same job, and he's got some beliefs he didn't have at the end of the original series, but different from the earlier episodes.

You have spoken before about how your father influenced your performance as Walter Skinner. Have there been other persons in your life that you modeled the character after?

Mitch: No, I think it was [just him], and I don't think it was anything intentional I did in regards to him being like my father, it just kind of naturally evolved. I don't think I tried to consciously bring anybody else in as an influence.

Kumail Nanjiani Interview

You are known in Hollywood as a X-Files superfan; was it a surreal experience to appear on an episode? Were there things you had to do to keep yourself in check and focus on the work while filming?

Kumail: Oh yeah, it was probably the most nervous I've ever, ever, ever been for a show. The nightmare is, I know the episode is going to be great, but I don't want to hurt the episode. So, when I was shooting it, and preparing for it, I did not think of it as The X-Files, I thought of it as just like a job, and then when it was done I was like: “Okay, I think I just did The X-Files,” and I watched the episode and I am in it, so I'm like, “Okay, definitely in The X-Files.” It's a really great episode.

I'm always interested with how Europeans view America. While growing up in Pakistan did The X-Files and other American series help to shape your impression of the country before you moved here?

Kumail: Yeah, I mean I watched The X-Files in Pakistan, and it seemed like: “Oh my God, is this true?” When I first watched it, for some reason when they aired it, it said ‘based on a true story', so I said, “Oh my god, all of this stuff is happening in America! I got to go there!” Then obviously it couldn't be that all of this stuff would be happening that I would believe. I grew up watching a lot of American TV shows. I watched Knight Rider, and The A-Team and all that, but X-Files is definitely my favorite.

Annabeth Gish Interview

It's been a long time since we last saw Monica Reyes. Could you describe where she is mentally and emotionally in the new season?

Annabeth: If I answer that I'd give it all away (laughs), I can't!

Was it difficult getting back into the role? Did it feel strange to shoot in Vancouver as opposed to Los Angeles, as you joined after the show made the move?

Annabeth: Not at all, Monica Reyes is like a second skin to me. I loved playing her and it was easy to step back into her shoes. It didn't feel strange, no, not for me, I love Vancouver; it was another chapter of another adventure.

Joel McHale Interview

I understand you are a long time X-Files fan. What was your favorite aspect of appearing in this season? Was it a surreal experience?

Joel: It was the money because they paid me so well in Canadian dollars. I like colorful money and I like that little transparent strip on it. Yes, it was completely surreal, as I am a huge fan of The X-Files. I have all of the episodes at home, but I can't show my boys yet because they can be terrifying; in fact, it was a show my wife and I watched before we were married. I bought her from Russia, I brought her over and taught her English, and she finally knows the show now.
When Chris Carter made the mistake of hiring me I was surprised and thrilled to a point of – I really didn't believe it, even when I got there, I'm like, “This isn't The X-Files, this is an episode of Bones, right?” It was great.

David Duchovny Interview

You've had two really long running series with The X-Files and Californication. Do you prefer staying in one character and deeply exploring it, or starting over with new roles? Did it take long to switch into playing Fox Mulder after playing Hank Moody?

David: I like both. What is interesting to me is that I started playing this character in ‘93 and I am playing him again in 2015. That's an amazing challenge for an actor to be able to play a guy for that long, and to keep him the same and yet different.

There's an X-Filespromo clip with Mulder and Scully dealing with the adoption of their baby, William, in the new series. Does the issue resonate for you differently now, compared to when you were younger?

David: I guess it does, but the stuff that we did best was never the soap opera stuff. There's a certain amount of relationship stuff in it, but were not Grey's Anatomy, we're not a show like that, and we're not at our best when we do that. So, life happens in and around the cases, the show doesn't revolve around our lives, our lives revolve around the cases. This stuff has a place it in, but it's not foremost in the show or in our minds, and I think it's strongest when it does happen like it does in life, which is, life happens, and you deal with it as you go about doing your job.

Gillian Anderson Interview

Are you tempted to get back further into directing?

Gillian: Not for a while. There was something I was getting very close to then I realized that in order to do it I would have to take off six months to a year from my working schedule. I'm kind of in a blessed position right now where I'm working a lot, which is not necessarily a usual thing for a woman of my age, and so I decided it was important that I focus on this now, and I'll save directing for another time. But I'm very interested.

Chris Carter interview

If a season 11 does develop, has there been any further discussion with Vince Gilligan, Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa or John Shiban about having them come on board?

Chris: No discussions at all – I was asked once casually when we might do a season 11, only once. I think everyone is waiting to see how this does, so I don't want to get ahead of myself. When you mentioned that list of people, they're all very busy, and because I would never know how to schedule a season 11 right now it would be very hard to get them to commit to anything.

Have a lot of your thoughts, concerns and interests evolved since 2008 at the time of I Want To Believe? Do the new episodes reflect a change in your perspective? Are you more optimistic or pessimistic than you were 15 years earlier?

Chris: I am more scared than I was 13 years ago. We live in a Citizen Four (Edward Snowden/NSA documentary) world now, where the government have admitted that they are spying on us. I think that's scary and, so yes, my perspective has changed.

The “My Struggle” screening

People settled into the IMAX screen at the Los Angeles Science Center. Before the start, several FOX representatives stood up and spoke before introducing Chris Carter, who revealed he could never have imagined he would be introducing episode 203. He thanked his co-writers, David and Gillian, the cast and crew, and lastly his wife Dori for nagging him to do this. He especially thanked the FOX marketing and publicity team. Then the episode was screened for the cast, crew and press. The good news is that the episode works, the flavor of Vancouver really comes through: there were some visually impressive set pieces, especially in the opening sequence. The emotional history of Mulder and Scully is handled effectively, and there's a real feeling of affection between them. But these two are old souls, and the years have taken a toll on them, which is what makes this episode feel realistic, the fact that they are portrayed as older characters. That toll is also the years of loss, the adoption of William, Mulder's abduction, strange death and resurrection, and the number of family and friends who have died over the years. The countless assassination attempts by the Syndicate, or just putting their lives on the line as FBI agents. Or Dana Scully's discovery of a dying girl, Emily, who might have been her biological child, and watching her decline… all of these factors and events exist as a result to pursuing truths about covert governments and agendas. It makes sense to see that toll on their faces.

There was one aspect of the last film, I Want To Believe, that worked – the realistic depiction of their age, as well as seeing Scully as a doctor helping children who might be hopeless cases, and giving them hope. We are right back to Dana Scully as a doctor once again doing the same in “My Struggle”. There are reasons given as to why Mulder and Scully are in the place they are in. As far as how effective the Tad O'Malley character is in the episode will be up to debate, but he represents a long line of idealists chasing windmills on The X-Files. Many of the themes, and Mulder's doubts, simply mirror things we've seen before at the end of season four, and while it will be up to the viewer to decide I don't think the issues undermine the mythology as it is understood. This back and forth simply represents what The X-Files is about in part: beliefs that are corroborated through evidence. It manages to feel old, while bringing in something new, and remain emotionally consistent with what we saw in 2008.

The post-screening reception

Right after the screening I stumbled into Vince Gilligan and we chatted, then traded some kind words with Gabe Rotter, Chris Carter's assistant and a producer on the new series. We were then guided to the reception party, where I was able to briefly chat with Mark Snow, Glen Morgan, James Wong, Joel McHale, and lastly with Chris Carter, with whom I addressed fans' concerns about the status of Mulder and Scully's relationship. “You'll have to watch”, he commented with a smile, and then added that, “Mulder and Scully do love each other.” After which I pretty much bowed out for the night.

The X-Files always represented different things to different people, but the common issues have been about, as Chris Carter has stated, the search for God, as well as an appeal, a plea, for the American government, or governments around the world, to not abuse or mistreat their people. For all of its darkness, The X-Files manages to remain profoundly optimistic. It has resonated for twenty-two years with the public as it touches on something deep, whereby most people instinctively understand that all is not well, even when things seem fine on the surface. The show was always asking questions as opposed to having all the answers. Now we are about to see a few more pieces of the puzzle.
One cannot find the light without accepting the dark.

A profound thank you must go to Kim Kurland for her tireless work and endless patience with this site, Robin Benty for her friendly support, and to the entire FOX publicity team.

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