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When The X-Files concluded in 2002, the plan was always to continue the show’s stories via theatrical movies.
But after the 2008 film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, “it didn’t seem that Fox was interested in doing another movie,” The X-Files star David Duchovny (Mulder) allows. “I had figured, unless they turned around on that — which I really think they should have — that we were pretty much dead. And that was OK, because life goes on.”
Duchovny has kept busy, completing his run on the Showtime hit, Californication, and starring in NBC’s Aquarius (which will return for a second season in 2016). But with television changing — and reboots/revivals all the rage — the shift allowed X-Files to live again.
“Cable came around and changed everything; it reconfigured television seasons to eight, 10, 12 episodes,” Duchovny says. “And the networks, to vie with cable, started reconfiguring their schedules. And you had shows that were 12, 14 limited runs. And then it became obvious to both [The X-Files creator] Chris [Carter] and I that, well, we fit right in there. If we can’t do a movie, let’s think about doing a six-hour movie, an eight-hour movie, a ten-hour movie, a 12-hour movie. Which is a great way to tell stories, actually, which is why I think there’s so much good work on cable — why you have such great 12-hour runs. A two-hour movie — even though they feel really long, most of the time, because they suck — it’s a short frame for a long story. If you have the ability to tell a long story. … I think The X-Files lends itself to long storytelling.”
Fox made its desire for more The X-Files known publicly during its January Television Critics Association session. The six-part even series was officially ordered by March (with Carter, Duchovny and Gillian Anderson signed on), and in production by June.
With the prolonged negotiations — and quick production turnaround — Duchovny went into the revival with little information on where Mulder would be going over the course of the episodes. “It was the kind of thing where the negotiation was so long to get us in the same place at the same time that [Carter] might have had thoughts in his mind, but he didn’t have anything written down,” Duchovny says. “When it became clear we were only going to do six … I had wanted to write and direct one, and [with the shorter order] I thought, ‘There’s no way. I can’t direct one, because then it means I won’t be in one. And if there’s just six, that’s not fair, that’s stupid, that’s shooting ourselves in the foot.’ When it became clear I wasn’t going to write one, I didn’t need to know the stories. I didn’t need to know where I might try to fit one in. And like in the old days, I just let Chris and the writers do what they do, and they let me do what I do.”
As Mulder finds himself brought back into the FBI world (yet again), some things haven’t changed. “I’ve always said, he’s the worst FBI agent of all time,” Duchovny laughs. “He’s never solved a case. He’s a bad FBI agent, because he tries to solve cases, but he doesn’t try to solve cases where they’re prosecutable. Or he’s not interested in cases which are going to end up with someone going to jail, or the bad guy being apprehended. He’s interested in wonder.”
And yet as Mulder’s case interest has stayed consistent, his romantic relationship has hit a major roadblock: Mulder and Scully split up at some point between the second film and the revival’s first hour. “We’re not bickering while we’re running with our guns out,” Duchovny says. “The relationship was never played [before this]. It was never … the predominant aspect of the show as written. It was something that was unspoken. I think it remains that way. I personally don’t want to Mulder and Scully sitting in couples’ therapy; that’s not what the show is. You can find that on other shows.”
And though the revival has yet to air, chatter has already started about the story continuing on at some point. Carter previously told THR that another event series would be “indicated by the actors and their schedules.”
For his part, Duchovny confirms he’d be willing to return, but acknowledges he wants to first see the six episodes they’ve produced this go-round. “My sense is they’re really good, but I haven’t seen [them all],” he says. “[And] Chris says it depends on David and Gillian. David says it depends on Chris and Gillian. Gillian says it depends on Chris and David. That’s where we’re at. We’ll all try to figure out our schedules and our needs. We’re not young actors without any responsibilities anymore. We have lives. We’re far-flung. We’re as far apart from each other as we can [be] — not for that reason. So it’s tough. It was tough to just get these six down. I hope we can.”
Which means if the band does manage to get back together, the episode count might be on the lower end again.
“Thirteen [episodes] is a little much,” Duchovny admits. “It would have to be the kind of thing where Chris would come to me and say, ‘I have this great vision for 12 or 10 or eight or six.’ It’s not the number, it’s whether or not the number services the story.”
The X-Files event series premieres Jan. 24 on Fox. Are you excited to see Mulder back on your television screen?
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