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When The X-Files revival launches in January, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) will have a familiar face in their corner: Mitch Pileggi’s Skinner.
Skinner — who was the duo’s FBI boss for most of the Fox drama’s nine seasons — has been a key fixture in the X-Files universe. And for Pileggi, he also has the distinction of being the only person (outside of Anderson and Duchovny) who appeared all nine seasons of the series and both feature films. (And he also appeared in the one-season X-Files spinoff, The Lone Gunmen.)
With the revival around the corner, THR caught up with Pileggi to discuss where the revival finds Skinner, his backstory for what’s happened since the original show’s finale and more.
What was your thought when you heard The X-Files revival was in the works?
My thought was, “I wonder if they’re going to call?” [The X-Files creator Chris Carter] didn’t tell me I was in the second movie until halfway through shooting it; they’re shooting the movie, and Chris is like, “You’re in the movie.” And I was like, [Joking] “Oh, really? Thanks for the info.”
As you were thinking about returning for the revival, did you have a set number of episodes you wanted to participate in?
I was ready to do whatever they wanted me to do. It’s a great character, a great show, and the excitement about it coming back is palpable. It’s a huge part of my life. And it’s a huge part of my career. I told Chris, “I owe a huge part of my career to you, and to Wes Craven.” [Craven wrote/directed the 1989 film, Shocker, which Pileggi starred in.] Those two people are the most instrumental people in any success I’ve had. So it’s very important to me.
Though Skinner was in I Want to Believe, fans didn’t really get much insight into what had happened in his life post-series finale. What can you say about where we’ll find Skinner in this revival?
He’s still in the same office. He’s moved his desk.
Skinner was one of the people who helped Mulder escape from prison and avoid a death sentence in the series finale. What impact did that have on his career/life?
That’s what it comes down to: the reason he’s still an assistant director is because he was hanging out with Spooky for too long. He’s probably been…he’s probably been ostracized a little bit by the other higher ups in the FBI, because he hasn’t advanced.
Why do you think Skinner remains with the FBI if he’s been marginalized that way?
Because that’s the type of person he is. The dedication, I think he’s a very dedicated person at what he does. He’s very dedicated to Mulder and Scully, but before that, he was very dedicated to his job in the FBI. He, obviously, has connections with people who have power, because he is still there. And I would assume, he has something to do with the X-Files being reopened. No one else in the FBI is going to [take that step] … what those connections are, I don’t know.
Are we getting to see any of Skinner’s life outside of work in the revival?
No. All I can say is the first day of shooting, I forgot to take my wedding ring off. So, continuity-wise, he’s married. So my story is, he married his secretary [from the original series] — who is my [real-life] wife. [Laughs.]
For a good chunk of the series, Skinner’s loyalty was in question. But by the last few years, it seemed clear his loyalty really was to Mulder and Scully. When you signed on for the revival, how much of that blurry loyalty were you hoping would return?
I think he’s still the same cat. I don’t think he’s changed much. Obviously through the last few seasons of the show, he saw things that opened his mind up and gave him realizations as to what Mulder had been doing all this time and what had been transpiring, as they both did — Scully and Skinner.
Them being back in the picture, he has this connection with them, and it’s a very important connection; he’s attached to them. And he’s also telling Mulder, there’s shit going on out there, and you need to do something about it. Things, perhaps, I don’t know how to do — paths you know how to follow that I don’t. And methods you use that I don’t. It’s just the nature of who Mulder is — Skinner says, “You need to figure this shit out.”
How much does Skinner know about Mulder and Scully’s romantic split?
He surmises that the situation between the two of them has changed. To what extent, I don’t know how close his contact has been with them … the fact is that he is still there for them and always will be.
It seems like the team would be open to continuing on with more X-Files in the future. But since so much is due to scheduling and outside forces, how do you go about saying goodbye to Skinner after each version of his tale comes to an end?
If it continues, I’ll always want to do this character. Whether [Carter] wants me to do it or not, or whether he has things for me to do are another thing.
The X-Files revival premieres Jan. 24 on Fox. Are you excited to have Skinner back?
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