The ‘X-Files’ was one of the most popular and longest running sci-fi shows on television despite doom and gloom predictions from TV industry naysayers. The chemistry between Scully and Mulder played by Anderson and Duchovny was alluring beyond logic and the uncovered secrets of the universe were more than enough to bring viewers back with each episode. After a strong nine year run, the show ended in 2002 but made a highly anticipated return in 2016 to the box office. Here is a behind the scenes look at one of the most popular sci-fi shows ever.
After news stories had been swirling around about four million people who had reported their experiences of being abducted by aliens, ‘X-Files’ writer, Chris Carter, was inspired to create the show for what seemed like an already built-in audience. He saw this as an opportunity to develop a deeper imagination about the universe around us and mold the perception of what we believe to be out there.
Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover
When it comes to taking a peek inside Hollywood, many have always turned to Entertainment Weekly for a respected scoop. Right after the show’s pilot episode aired, they said, “We know – This show is a goner.” Technically, they were right, but they had their timing a bit off, to say the least. The show was successful for nine years, more than most mainstream shows can say, even in today’s world.
As conflict is always more entertaining than a peaceful partnership, Carter cast Anderson and Duchovny for Agents Mulder and Scully for their chemistry to build a believable contrast. Duchovny’s Agent Fox Mulder is a supporter of the idea that there is more in the Universe than just us, and Anderson’s Agent Dana Scully is more of a realist. The build up that Mulder has to continuously convince Scully is what kept fans on their toes throughout the years.
Fans Noticed The Details
The most serious ‘X-Files’ fans found it most fun to dive into the influence that real life had on the show. The creator of the show, Carter, said that he had the most fun playing with real life inspiration and seeing how his imagination could incorporate those experiences into the sci-fi. One example he gave was that Agent Dana Cully was named after Dodgers broadcaster Vince Scully.
A little Embarassing
Die-hard fans often surprised the producers and directors of ‘X-Files’ when they caught cover ups or details that the team didn’t find important enough to conceal. Throughout the series, they noticed that despite the show being an American based story, cars often displayed European license plates. You’d think that with the millions of dollars spent in production, they could afford to avoid a small blunder like this to make the show more believable.
Dana Scully was one of the show’s leading roles. Carter found influence for this character’s personality by watching ‘Silence Of The Lambs’. He thought Jodie Foster’s performance as Clarice Sterling was as close to perfection for how he envisioned Scully. It was the moments where Jodie Foster showed a sense of disbelief in Anthony Hopkins’s evil persona of Hannibal Lecter that had Carter churning with inspiration.
Today, voiceovers are extremely common from celebrities. But when the ‘X-Files’ was on the air, voices for animated characters were practically unheard of as they were a different market. However, Jodie Foster provided a voiceover for a talking tattoo in Season 4’s “Never Again”. Carter wanted Foster for a cameo because of her influence over Dana Scully’s character.
Gillian Anderson played Scully with such poise and composure, viewers wondered where she’d honed her acting skills and couldn’t figure out where they’d seen her before. Well, they probably hadn’t. Anderson took the role when she was only 24 years old and when she shot the pilot for “The X-Files,” she’d only been on camera once before.
David Duchovny has had a lackluster career, to say the least. His career highlights aside from ‘The X-Files’ have been ‘Californication’ and ‘Evolution’ aside from some quick cameos in ‘Sex and The City’ and ‘Zoolander’. His nine year run with the sci-fi show provided enough fuel to get Duchovny more offers than he used to receive, but that’s not saying much.
Gillian Anderson had a busier career since leaving “The X-Files”. She’s been in over 40 different productions, despite remaining a smaller name in the industry. In 2005, Anderson was nominated for a BAFTA for best actress in a television series for her portrayal of Lady Dedlock in a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House.”
Mitch Pileggi went on to play a wide spectrum of characters on such shows as “CSI,” “The West Wing,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “Stargate: Atlantis,” “Medium,” “Supernatural,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Sons of Anarchy” and the 2012 reboot of “Dallas.” That’s all pretty exciting considering most assistant directors never make it on-screen like Mitch has.
The Lone Gunmen
“The Lone Gunmen” was a failed “X-Files” spin-off. The three actors who played the leading roles in the show have had very different careers, of which most wouldn’t recognize. Dean Haglund (Richard “Ringo” Langly) has appeared in over 17 TV shows, Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike) has racked up an impressive 14 directing credits, and Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers) has acted in over 25 movies and TV shows.
Although Robert Patrick only appeared in the last two seasons of “The X-Files”, he’s had a very successful career since. He’s famous for his stone cold characters with their lack of emotion. Appearing in over 120 movies and tv shows combined, he’s made some impactful appearances in ‘Walk The Line’, ‘The Sopranos’, and ‘True Blood’. Some would say his career has been more successful than David Duchovny’s despite the fact that he wasn’t the lead.
William B. Davis is a Canadian actor and director who’s most memorable role may be Smoking Man in “The X-Files”. He’s usually cast as a leader of sorts including Mayor Tate in “Smallville;” Damaris, a Prior of the Ori, in “Stargate SG-1;” and the president of the United States in “Masters of Science Fiction.” Before his memorable “X-Files” role as a chain smoker, he’d not touched a cigarette in 20 years, making his most defining role a big commitment to face something he’d once overcome.
Can’t Keep A Creative Man Down
Chris Carter should’ve been burnt out after creating 206 of “The X-Files” episodes as well as writing 65 of them. After a short break from his craft, he picked it right back up, creating some amazing documentaries and short films. When you love what you do, it’s not easy to walk away from it.
Vince Gilligan was part of the executive production team for 127 episodes of “The X-Files” and also wrote 29 of the episodes. Thank goodness that didn’t tire him out; he created and executive produced 62 episodes of one of the biggest hits in television history, the iconic “Breaking Bad.” He is also the executive producer of “Better Call Saul,” a “Breaking Bad” spinoff.
Nicholas Lea only signed up to play Alex Krycek for three episodes to fill the void left by Anderson’s maternity leave. He was so impressive, the role was extended for eight seasons. Other industry leaders were watching; Lea has since had major roles in “Men in Trees,” “V,” “The Killing” and “Continuum.”
Annabeth Gish shone as Special Agent Monica Reyes on “The X-Files” and has since added major roles in “The West Wing,” “Brotherhood,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Rizzoli & Isles” to her resume. She currently stars in “Halt and Catch Fire.” Despite persistent rumors, she is not the granddaughter of silent film star Lillian Gish.
Jerry Hardin’s role as Deep Throat on “The X-Files” was planned as a one-shot deal in the first season. He was so impressive the role became recurrent not only in Season 1 but for the entire series. Hardin has since appeared in 14 movies and television shows, though no parts have had such memorable names.