Interview with Chris Carter from "The X-Files" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Chris Carter

Interview with Chris Carter of "The X-Files" on FOX 1/21/16

It was quite an honor to speak with Mr. Carter! I used to love to watch "The X-Files" in its first incarnation, and I'm thrilled that it's back. I think everyone is thrilled about it. It was great hearing him talk about the show. I had to laugh when he was talking about how FOX treated him with so much respect this time around because OF COURSE THEY DID! I mean, it was a huge hit for them the first time around, and they spent years trying to duplicate that success by putting many scifi shows on Friday nights. Nothing else they've done has come close.  Most scifi shows don't do very well on TV and most TV shows get canceled pretty quickly (especially Scifi).  X-Files is one of the few that lasted a long time.  FOX gets a lot of criticism for canceling so many great shows (especially "Firefly"), but at least, unlike the other networks, it actually puts a lot of scifi shows on the air. It gives them a chance.  With the way broadcast TV is failing so badly now, of course they're hoping that this new "X-Files" will be at least partly as successful as the last one. I only got to ask one question, but I thought it was a pretty good one...

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: The X-Files Conference Call
January 21, 2016/9:30 a.m. PST

Kim Kurland
Chris Carter


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to The X-Files Conference Call with Chris Carter. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode and later we will be conducting a question and answer session. Instructions will be given to you at this time. (Operator instructions.) We do ask that you limit yourself. Ask one question and one follow up, if allowed, but if you would like to ask more you need to enter the queue again.

It is now my pleasure to turn the time over to our host, Miss Kim Kurland. Please go ahead.

Kim: Hi, everyone. I just wanted to thank you for taking part in the call today with Chris. We are all very excited about the launch of these new episodes of The X-Files on Sunday and Monday. As everyone hopefully knows by now, we are premiering on Sunday night, immediately following the NFC Championship game, on both coasts. If anyone has any questions for me, after the call, just feel free to email me.

Beth, I think we can start.

Moderator: Thank you. (Operator instructions.) It will be just one moment. Just one moment, please.

Kim: I think theyíre having a technical issue on their end.

Chris: Right.

Moderator: So sorry. Just one moment. Okay. Thank you. Our first question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby with SciFi Vision. Please go ahead.

Jamie: SciFi Vision. Hi, Chris. Thanks for talking to us. Really appreciate it. Great to talk to you again.

Chris: Youíre welcome.

Jamie: First, I just want to say Iíve been a huge fan of the show from the beginning. I really loved the first three episodes that they let us watch. My first question kind of is a part from the old series, a part from the new series. It kind of goes with both. I was wondering if you could talk about the decision, originally, to have Scully give up William and how thatís going to affect them this season? I mean, other than obviously we saw their little thought sequence, or whatever, but I know it sounds like maybe he calls him, weíre hoping. Can you talk about that a bit?

Chris: Yes. If you remember, they gave up William to protect him. They were afraid that with his whereabouts known, meaning that either one of them would have him, that they would be better to give him up and not know his whereabouts so they couldnít be tortured into giving him up. So, obviously, William is all important, not to just them, but to others and he will play an important part in not just the episode you saw that aired as Episode 2, but also in Episode 4. But I think heís always, even though heís not in the show, per se, he is an absent presence.

Are you there? Hello?

Jamie: Hello? Can you hear me?

Chris: Hi, Iím here. I can hear you.

Jamie: Okay. Sorry. As a follow up, I know when The X-Files first aired, obviously, it was hugely popular on the internet, but there was not exactly social media then. Can you talk about how you think thatís going to affect the new show and if you have any plans with social media, specifically, to engage the fans?

Chris: Personally, I have an Instagram account that I think Iíve posted two photos to. Iím not a social media person but I appreciate how much social media plays a part in the interaction between fans and the interaction between fans and producers.

When I went to a marketing meeting with Fox before we shot the show, or during the shooting of the show, I was amazed to see that there were 50 people in the room and Iíd say a good amount of them were there because they conduct marketing via social media, so the show is marketed very actively on social media platforms. I think that the second screen experience will help the show. I think that the show will, I think, rise, or I should say, its popularity will be enhanced by what I think is the beauty of social media.

Jamie: Okay. Great. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Chris: Youíre welcome.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Heather McClatchie with TV Goodness. Please go ahead.

Heather: Hi, Chris. Thanks so much for talking to us today. I have only seen the first episode of the new batch and I loved it. Iím a longtime fan. Iíll date myself, Iím 45, so I spent my 20s with your show, so Iím so glad that you guys are back. I wanted to ask, what I really liked about the premier was that it was a 2016 perspective on 90s perceptions and it sort of flipped the script on what Mulder thought he knew about what was going on. Can you talk a little bit about where the basis for sort of turning everything on its ear came from and exploring that? Will we spend all six exploring that?

Chris: In a way, all six explore it because they are told in a contemporary context. They turn the mythology not necessarily on its head, but the mythology takes a big right hand turn and that plays most actively in the first and last episodes. But I think that technology, and itís really technology is what youíre talking about, besides what I would call a very strong undercurrent of distrust for government, authority, and for the picture weíre being sold.

But the show is, I think, owes to people like Alex Jones, people like Glenn Beck, and all the conspiracy sites that I look at on the internet, that I digest every day. I get a lot of stuff in my mailbox every day from these sites. Iíve also beenóIíve gone to conventions. Iím actively up on this stuff and Iím actually surprised sometimes how many journalists are unaware of these, as I say, very strong undercurrents.

Heather: Got you. Well, thank you. Picking up these characters after such a long stretch, was there any one thing that was easiest or hardest to pick back up about writing for Mulder and Scully again?

Chris: No. As you see, theyíre no longer together. Theyíre not under the same roof, I should say, so that provided an interesting point of departure dramatically and I think that it made the characters interesting to explore because thatís how they began their lives together. Their lives changed. They were a couple and now theyíre apart, so as weíve lived our lives, they have lived theirs. Thatís the way weíre playing it.

Heather: Got it. Well, thank you very much. Iím really looking forward to all six.

Chris: Thank you, Heather.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Amy Amatangelo with Paste Magazine. Please go ahead.

Amy Hi.

Moderator: Iím not sure what happened to Amy.

Chris: Yes.

Moderator: Weíll go to the next line. We have Phyllis Thomas with Examiner. Please go ahead.

Phyllis Hi, Chris. Good morning.

Chris: Hi, how are you?

Phyllis: Iím fine, thanks. Iím a fan of the show, as well, so I am happy thatís it back. I wanted to talk to you about the first episode is really important because itís the first time we see these characters after a while. I just wanted to know, what were your thoughts when you were putting it together and how did you decide what the first episode would look like?

Chris: Well, it took a lot of consideration because I had to think about the characters and their relationships. I had to think about the character in a contemporary context, so much has changed [audio disruption] technologically, geopolitically, so I had to put a contemporary context both personally and professionally.

I also had to be mindful that the reason weíre back is because of the hardcore fans but, also, there is another audience out there that I think everyone wants toódoesnít want to ignore as a possible new audience [audio disruption] with more viewers thereís a chance for more X-Files. So we had to be mindful that we couldnít just [audio disruption] intention to upgrade [audio disruption].

Phyllis: Yes, sorry, itís a little hard for me to hear you. [Audio disruption] hear me. Can you?

Chris: I can hear you. Can you hear me now?

Phyllis: Yes, a little bit. Itís just wavy. I donít know. Then the next question I had for you was in your initial meetings with Fox, when they were talking about bringing the series back, were there any bullet points, or specifics, that they wanted to have you hit in bringing it back?

Chris: No, nothing. They were very respectful that the producers know what theyíre doing and what weíre doing. That said, they were very specific about where they wanted to do it, which was Vancouver, which was music to my ears. So I was happy to hear that. Of course, when they called me they said David and Gillian wanted to do it. I wouldnít have done without David and Gillian. I think thereís this idea that I own the show and I donít. Iím one of the, I would say, a stakeholder in this show but Fox can do anything they darn well please.

Phyllis: Great. Thank you so much.

Chris: Youíre welcome. Thank you.

Moderator: Our next call comes from the line of Alison Abbey with Parade Magazine. Please go ahead.

Alison: Hi, Chris. Thank you so much for doing this. I will echo everyoneís sentiments that I was a huge fan of the original and I will top them by telling you that I once came home to my minister in my parentsí house because I was 16 when the show came out and my mother misunderstood what the phrase ďcult followingĒ meant when the show started and brought my minister in to talk to me. So thatís my back story.

Chris: I hope your minister sat down and enjoyed himself.

Alison: He had a good laugh when he realized what had happened. Iím curious to know, I know that youíve mentioned you have a third movie that youíve written but now that youíve done the six-episode arc and kind of have seen how that looks, a) is thatís still the movie you would put out at this point and b) would you rather keep doing these kinds of shorter, episodic versions?

Chris: I like doing the television show because it gives me a chance to tell a lot of interesting X-Files stories. I probably wouldnít want to do the third movie that I wrote. I think I would have to rethink it. I might use some elements of it. I can tell you that if and when we do a third movie, I wouldnít do it if it were not the proper budget and the proper release date. I feel we didnít have either in the last movie, so Iíd be looking to do something more like the first movie.

Alison: Just out of curiosity, are there any plots or characters from the original series that you would have liked, or the movies, that you would have liked to have brought back this round that either you couldnít just because of the episode period or because of conflicts?

Chris: You know, I canít think of anything specifically. Thereís an episode that Iíve wanted to do for about 20 years and one day I actually may do it, but it didnít work out in this series. You know, when you only have six, you have to be very selective of the kinds of stories you tell and theyíve got to work not just individually but kind of work together as a whole and so I think thatís why youíre seeing the episodes that youíre seeing now.

Alison: Got it. Thank you so much.

Chris: Youíre welcome.

Moderator: Our next call from the line of Amy Amatangelo with Paste Magazine. Please go ahead.

Amy: Hi, Chris. Can you hear me now?

Chris: Yes, Amy. Iím sorry about the last time.

Amy: No, Iím glad you can hear me. Iím sorry. Well, thanks, again, for talking to us. I wanted to ask, you talked a little bit about the Scully/Mulder relationship and where it stands in the beginning. I just was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how it will evolve over these three episodes and if we will see them getting closer to where we had last left them?

Chris: So, it was my thinking and our thinking, the producers, that Mulder and Scully would have had a very hard time living under the same roof based on their personalities and their passions. I see Mulder now as probably, because heís got Google and the internet and search engines, he probably spends a lot of time sitting at home in front of his computer in his underwear.

I didnít imagine that would sit well with Scully who is a serious scientist and doctor, so I think it would spell, I believe it would spell a bump in the road for them, which is why you find them not together. But I think youíll see, through the course of these six episodes, that they begin to be drawn closer together through not just their investigations but through, I would call it, a deep love for one another.

Amy: Okay, good. You talked about William and I was so happy with a second episode, which I found so poignant, when they kind of both envisioned the futures they could have had with their son. I was just wondering, I donít even know if you can answer this, but have we perhaps seen William, even if we donít know weíve seen him, will we see him, kind of thing?

Chris: Well, I mean, youíve already seen that you see him as they imagine him.

Amy: Right, but I meant will we see present day?

Chris: He does not appear again in the series, but he is important to the arc of the stories going forward.

Amy: Wonderful. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Chris: Youíre welcome.

Moderator: Our next call comes from the line of Matt Allair with Den of Geek. Please go ahead.

Matt: Hi, Mr. Carter. [Audio disruption] and Den of Geek. Itís always an honor to speak with you. When you think about the activity of the fandom for The X-Files in the 90s, and within the past 13 years, and, for example, the petition efforts for Fox to bring back another movie, do you think the current fandom has gotten more sophisticated? Has it evolved?

Chris: Are you talking about the current fandom?

Matt: Well, yes, within the past 13 years, the activity of the fandom, like the petition efforts to bring back another movie. Do you feel itís gotten more sophisticated? Has the fandom evolved?

Chris: Well, itís hard for me to say because I donítóin term of its systematic sophistication, I guess it has because of social media. I still hear the drumbeat loud and clear. I would [indiscernible] it takes, for me, experiences like Comic-Com 2013 where I got a direct hit from the fans for their desire to see this show, either back on the big screen or back on the small screen. Itís that direct experience that is most impressive to me.

Matt: Indeed. Can I ask a follow up?

Chris: Yes.

Matt: Have the executives at Fox hinted that they are open to developing any non-X-Files projects that youíve worked on or developed, like the possibility of a Millennium revival or show like Unique or The After being produced for Fox?

Chris: Right now weíre so focused on this that there are no talks about doing anything else. I can tell you, there is a constant drumbeat to bring back Millennium and Iím just always so taken by that, also that hardcore group of fans out there who would like to see it back. I have ideas how it might come back but, itís really, once again, itís a Fox show. They own it. Itís really up to them whether or not they would ever want to go down that road.

But, you know, I also think Harsh Realm would deserve another chance. Iím not sure if The Lone Gunmen would ever see the light of day, but Unique would be a show I would love to see done, if not at Fox, someplace else.

Matt: Indeed. Thank you for your time.

Chris: Youíre welcome. Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Brett White with Comic Book Resources. Please go ahead.

Brett: Hello, Chris.

Chris: Hi, Brett.

Brett: Hi. I wanted to ask you, you have a lot of the great writers from the show, James Wong, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, all back for this event. I wanted to know what it was like getting the band back together, like giving them that call or that email asking them that they wanted to come back. What was that experience like?

Chris: You know, itís funny. I donít remember specifically calling them and asking them. It kind of happenedóGlen and I share an agent, so it kind of happened through our agent and then the same agent told me that Jim was interested. Glen told me that Darin was interested. The band kind of folded back together in the most natural way. Everyone had good ideas. Jim and I are tennis players. We played tennis one day, sat down and talked about his episode, but Glen and Darin both had very worked-out ideas when we first met in Glenís backyard way back in the spring of last year. So the band came back together as if no time had passed at all.

Brett: One last question. I want to know, can you tell us anything about the role The Lone Gunmen are playing in this six-episode series?

Chris: I would only spoil it for you if I told you, but I can tell you that they come back in a way that you will absolutely never expect. If I gave you 100 guesses, right now, youíd never get it.

Brett: Great. Thank you.

Chris: Youíre welcome.

Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Suzanne Lanoue with The TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne: Hi. Can you speak about any differences that you can think of between the first time that you worked with your show through Fox and now?

Chris: You know, when you first get up and running, everyone is very nervous because youíre spending millions of dollars. Everyone is prepared for you to be a big failure. Theyíre prepared for you to waste all their money so everyone, thereís a tremendous amount of nervousness. This time out, there was a tremendous amount of respect. Fox was very hands-off in almost all respects. Thatís not to say they didnít have notes, they didnít have ideas, they didnít have suggestions, they didnít have good direction...

They have done a fantastic job marketing this show, but itís funny that we came back to do six episodes which, in the grand scheme of things, doesnít seem like very many. I can tell you that Iíve worked as hard on these six episodes as I ever worked on this show and my involvement with Fox was asóeven though, as I said, it was respectful, it was as collaborative as Iíve ever experienced.

Suzanne: Great. With these six episodes, is there any thinking that if itís successful, that youíll be bringing it back for more?

Chris: You know, I think everyone had a very good experience. I think everyoneís happy with the way it worked out. I think, now, itís waiting to see if we build it, will the audience come? I hope they will. Itís seems as if there is a viewership out there but, you know, we live in a different world now where the viewership is fractured. Fox has fewer viewers. They are able to market, do on-air promotions, reaches fewer people. Everyoneís got to get the word out there in order to get the ratings that will promote more episodes.

Suzanne: Alright, well thanks. I canít wait to see the rest of them.

Chris: Thanks. Youíre welcome.

Moderator: The next question is from the line of Mr. Alex Biese with Asbury Park Press. Please go ahead.

Alex: Hi there, Chris. Thank you again, very much, for taking your time to talk with us. Really appreciate it, sir.

Chris: Youíre welcome. Thank you.

Alex: I guess, for a bit of background, what made 2016 the right time, both culturally and logistically, to bring this world, and these characters, back to television for you?

Chris: The question kind of answers itself. Anyone whoís picked up a newspaper recently, or gone on the internet, knows that we live in an era of tremendous amount of suspicion and distrust of not only our government leaders, but world government. So thatís an interesting time to tell an X-Files story.

When we went off the air in 2002, there could not have been more trust in government and institutions and we allowed a lot of our rights and liberties to be abridged in the name of security. I think that weíve all witnessed now the abuse of that trust and The X-Files wants to point a very bright light at some of those dark corners that have developed.

Alex: Itís almost as if modern society was screaming out for Fox Mulder to come back. One quick follow up, when you were crafting this six-episode revival, did a lot of effort go into making it both something that longtime fans could enjoy and appreciate and something that would be accessible to folks who might have missed out on the first pass of The X-Files.

Chris: Yes, it was important to us to actually be mindful that thereís an audience out there that we know, they know the show. They know it better than I do, to be honest, and this series is for them. But if there are to be more of these episodes, we have to be inclusive of a casual viewing audience, people who may have seen it, may have known about it in the past, but we alsoóI have to tell you that Iíve had a number of times kids say to me that they loved the show and I look at them and I realize that they werenít even born when the show was on. Maybe some of them were not even born when the show went off the air, so weíve got another audience out there that we need to make sure that we donít forsake going forward.

Alex: Absolutely. Thank you very much.

Chris: Youíre welcome.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of T.J. with We So Nerdy. Please go ahead.

T.J.: Good morning, Mr. Carter. I just want to thank you again, like everyone else, for taking the time today. I apologize in advance if this seems a little bit of a silly question, but for those who are new to the franchise, will there be kind of an overview, or a catchup? Then, just to go ahead with the follow up, will you be including Easter eggs within the six episodes?

Chris: [Indiscernible] the first episode begins with an elaborate catchup.

T.J.: Okay.

Chris: Itís not something that will insult hardcore fans. I think itís done in an interesting way and it certainly ends provocatively so, yes, there will be, I think, an easy handle to grasp for casual viewers and newcomers alike. Ask me the second part of the question again.

T.J.: Iím sorry. Will you be including Easter eggs in the upcoming run?

Chris: There are Easter eggs and, you know, when you do a show that has been off the air for 14 years, itís funny that even withóyou do unintended Easter eggs. There are specific ones and then there are the unintentional ones that come just because the show has to be self-referential in order to tell these stories. I would say, yes, intentionally and unintentionally, we do.

T.J.: Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.

Chris: Youíre welcome.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Marc Kleinhenz with Screen Rant. Please go ahead.

Marc: Hi, Chris.

Chris: Hi.

Marc: I wanted to ask about the mythology of the series. I was curious if the alien colonization of Earth, do you see that as the lynchpin of the entire mythology or do you see it more as an always far-off backdrop?

Chris: I see it as now part and parcel of a conspiracy that has actually mushroomed and so youóitís not as if we are saying what Mulder once believed can be thrown out the window. Itís now what Mulder once believed is a fraction of what looks like a much larger picture that had been kept from him.

Marc: Okay. I also wanted to geek out a little bit and ask you a very specific question. I apologize if itís a little too specific. Thereís this concept that you guys had introduced in the original series that always caught my fancy and I donít know if itís something that you were interested in bringing back, or reviving, or going into more, and thatís the idea that Mulder is this kind of prophesized savior of mankind.

Chris: Yes. Itís interesting. Heís got a heroic quality. Heís the most unlikely hero, but he does have a kind of heroic quality, in that sense, and the mythology that developed around him gave him a kind of savior-like quality. That said, I would never label him a savior, but I would label him an agent of change.

Marc: Okay. Thank you very much for your time.

Kim: Beth, Iím sorry. Unfortunately, we only have time for one more person to ask a question.

Moderator: Thank you. Our last question comes from the line of Jacob Rich with Michigan Daily. Please go ahead.

Jacob: Hi, Chris. My question for you is about the etymology of the titles of the new episodes. The first and last episodes of the series are called ďMy Struggle.Ē Is that meant to call to mind Hitlerís autobiography of the same name or, perhaps, the Knausgaard series of novels?

Chris: The Knausgaard series of novels, which I found amazing. I really look at Mulderís life as becoming very tedious and very confined and veryóI think heís been struggling with some depression. I saw the Knausgaard title as really, for me, indicative of how I was looking at Mulderís life and how he may be looking at his own life.

Jacob: Okay. Excellent. So a follow-up question, kind of thematically related. Do you personally think the existence of extraterrestrial life is a comfortable notion or is it scarier to youóis it scarier to you that there may be aliens out there or that there may not be?

Chris: Itís scarier to me that there are aliens out there because I think once that would become a reality, and Iím talking about the kind of aliens that weíve come to either [indiscernible] fascinate us or terrify us, which is a somewhat humanized or humanoid life form. I think that it would throw mankind into a panic both biologically, psychologically, philosophically, spiritually. I think that it would beóit would change the world as we know it immediately and overnight and I think that is a rather harrowing idea.

Jacob: Thanks so much, Chris. Thanks for the great show.

Chris: Youíre welcome. Thank you.

Kim: Beth, I think we have to wrap it up there. If you have any closing instructions for people, that would be great if you could give them.

Moderator: Thank you. We appreciate it. That does conclude our conference for today, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive TeleConferencing Services. You may now disconnect.

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