‘The X-Files’ at 20: Chris Carter still wants to believe

May 13, 2013 | 12:38 p.m.
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"The X-Files" actors Gillian Anderson, left, and David Duchovny. (Michael Lavine / Fox)

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"The X-Files" director Chris Carter in 2008. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

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"The X-Files" star David Duchovny in 2008. (Karen Tapia / Los Angeles Times)

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Director Chris Carter, left, and David Duchovny on the set of 2008's "The X-Files: I Want to Believe." (Diyah Pera / 20th Century Fox)

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"The X-Files" actors Gillian Anderson, left, and David Duchovny. (Michael Lavine / Fox)

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David Duchovny, left, and Gillian Anderson as Mulder and Scully in a scene from "The X-Files." (Marcel Williams / Fox)

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David Duchovny, left, and Gillian Anderson as Mulder and Scully in a scene from "The X-Files." (Carin Baer / Fox)

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Gillian Anderson, left, and David Duchovny in a scene from "The X-Files." (Merrick Morton / Fox)

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Gillian Anderson, left, and David Duchovny in a scene from "The X-Files." (Fox)

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David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, left, and Mitch Pileggi as A.D. Skinner in "The X-Files." (Fox)

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David Duchovny, left, and Gillian Anderson as Mulder and Scully in a scene from "The X-Files." (Fox)

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Gillian Anderson, left, and David Duchovny in a scene from "The X-Files." (Larry Watson / Fox)

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Gillian Anderson, left, and David Duchovny in a scene from "The X-Files." (Larry Watson / Fox)

It’s been 20 years since “The X-Files” opened to viewers’ wanting-to-believe eyes, and the hit paranormal investigation drama’s creator, Chris Carter, doesn’t quite know what to make of that phenomenon.

“It’s surreal,” he told a sold-out crowd Sunday at the Hero Complex Film Festival shortly after entering to a standing ovation. “It’s like an X-File…. Twenty years’ missing time.”

Asked what he might do differently if he made the show now, he said, “It was of its time…. You probably could make the show today, but, I don’t know why, it just feels like it was made exactly when it should have been made.”

The festival’s closing night was devoted to the acclaimed Fox series, and included screenings of three fan-picked episodes – the pilot, which he wrote, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”

Carter said the pilot scene in which FBI special agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a skeptical scientist, first meets her new partner, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), a crusading believer in aliens and conspiracy, wasn’t just their introduction as a duo to the audience, but to him as well: “That’s the first time they really acted together. They didn’t audition together for the parts. We really cast them separately, so we didn’t know there’d be that chemistry. What you were watching was really a kind of test, and it ended up working.”

“Working” might be an understatement: Scully and Mulder’s chemistry quickly became a pop cultural fixation, with rampant will-they-won’t-they speculation.

During the series’ 1993-2002 run, Carter thought they wouldn’t, though he and the writing staff had some fun with fans’ expectations.

“We actually snuck in a lot of kisses, like secretly, like sneaky dream sequences and stuff where they get together. I knew they should never be together. It was wrong.”

His thinking changed, however, when it was time to make the second feature film spun off from the series, 2008’s “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.” In it, viewers saw that Mulder and Scully had finally become a couple. So why bring them together after all those years?

“You couldn’t keep it up any longer,” he explained. “It was ridiculous.”

Carter had a surprise for the fans, bringing out two of the show’s most popular writers, brothers Glen and Darin Morgan, the latter of whom wrote “Jose Chung” and “Clyde Bruckman.”

Glen Morgan, who noted it was his brother’s birthday, recalled being sent the script for “Clyde Bruckman” and, reading the lines for guest star Peter Boyle’s psychic-vision-haunted titular character, realizing, “Oh my God, this is our dad.” Then, clarifying to audience laughter, “He couldn’t predict when people die or anything …”

That episode, for which Boyle and Darin Morgan won Emmys, and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” – which Carter called “still such an improbable episode for any TV show” – broadened the series’ stylistic scope by mixing in more humor with the series’ usual science-fiction and horror elements.

“That was the amazing thing to me,” Carter said. “That it could be so many different things.”

Darin Morgan said he appreciated now more than he did then the risks Carter was willing to take on unusual material.

“I’ve had so many situations since ‘The X-Files’ where producers said, ‘I don’t get this,’” the writer said. “People are so unwilling to take a chance on another person. That was so rare. Thanks, Chris.”

There was, of course, one question on every audience member’s mind: Will there be another movie?

“That’s a good question,” Carter said.

Gently prodded to answer, he replied, “The truth is out there.”

The fourth annual Hero Complex Film Festival was hosted by Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre at the Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. It began Friday with a John Carpenter double feature and feisty Q&A. Saturday afternoon brought a screening of “The Mist” and a discussion  of that film’s shocking ending with writer-director Frank Darabont and surprise guest Thomas Jane. Saturday night belonged to Guillermo del Toro, who shared an exclusive preview of his upcoming “Pacific Rim” and gave lively responses to questions between showings of “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” On Sunday afternoon, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin discussed “Independence Day” sequel possibilities after a screening of that film, and were joined by surprise guest Jeff Goldblum.

Check back in the coming days for videos of discussions with the festival’s special guests.

– Blake Hennon

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


5 Responses to ‘The X-Files’ at 20: Chris Carter still wants to believe

  1. ForlaGione says:

    brilliant show. we need more chris carter on TV!

  2. Carlos says:

    I loved this serie, like no one other.

  3. Eileen says:

    “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” was a favorite of mine. Can't imagine anyone but Peter Boyle in that role.

  4. amir khalid says:

    The story suggests that Mulder and Scully had became a couple in The X-Files: I Want To Believe. It happened much earlier. A season 7 episode, all things (no initial caps in title), written and directed by Gillian Anderson, begins with a scene where Scully gets dressed and leaves Mulder's bed. Scully was pregnant with Mulder's child throughout season 8; she gave birth to William in the season finale, and gave him up for adoption late in season 9. They are described as lovers in the show's final episode.

  5. Brandon Captain says:

    You're wrong, amir. Go back and watch the episode. You'll see that at the end of the episode the precedes her getting dressed in the morning, she sleeps on the couch.

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