Interview: ‘X-Files’ Creator Chris Carter on Revisiting Mulder & Scully and the Evolution of the Conspiracy Theorist
Posted on Friday, January 22nd, 2016 by Fred Topel
Once recent shows like Arrested Development and 24 returned for limited series, networks started looking at older hit shows that could be revived for a few more episodes. Fox had a golden goose in their vaults with The X-Files, which last spawned the 2008 movie I Want To Believe. Now it’s back as a six-episode limited series crafted by Chris Carter with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returning.
The series picks up with Dana Scully (Anderson) and Fox Mulder (Duchovny) separated again, but reconnecting over the conspiracy theory of internet talk show host Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale). We also see flashbacks to an alien crash landing that hints at the answers for which Mulder has been searching all along. We spoke with Carter about the new X-Files, which premieres Sunday, January 24 on Fox after football, at the Fox party for the Television Critics Association. Here’s what he had to say.
I love movie sequels because each one can build on the history of the franchise. Did you find that with this new X-Files series, that it was a different sort of thing than just doing standalone movies or continuing seasons?
Yeah, this is six hours of storytelling so it builds on everything that came before it in a way that a movie might, but movies are rarely two hours now. This is a chance to really advance the saga.
What was some heavy lifting you no longer had to do because you’ve already done it before?
We spend a few minutes catching you up in that first episode. I think that appeals to hardcore fans, which is why we made the series anyway. The reason we’re back is because there’s a hardcore fan base out there and this is for them. But at the same time, we appreciate that there is a casual viewing audience out there and also a brand new audience. When some kid comes up to me and he’s 16 years old and he says, “You did The X-Files? I watch The X-Files,” I look at that kid and I think, “You were either a toddler or not even born yet when the show first aired.” So there’s a new audience out there that we think might appreciate the show.
Were you just as excited as all of us to figure out where Scully and Mulder are all these years later?
Yeah, you know, I wanted to be honest to the passage of time. So in the second movie they were together, but then I thought given what they do and what they’re interested in, I thought it would make for a tough relationship. I imagined they separated for good reasons.
Was that bittersweet for you to decide that?
Yeah, of course.
Does it allow you to start over with them in a way?
No, you can’t because they’ve been together for 24 years now. You can’t fudge that. You can’t pretend that they’re younger than they are, that nothing has gone on in those ensuing years. I had to imagine what happened.
That chemistry is still there, isn’t it?
For sure. It’s been there since the day that they stepped foot in Mulder’s office together.
When you write these new scripts, do you just know they’re going to make it crackle?
You know, I’ve been doing this for so long now, I’ve been doing so many hours of this that it’s in my DNA.