Are you a believer? Whether you were or weren’t before you started watching The X Files, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully made you want to believe. As one of the greatest TV shows to grace our TV screens, we’re taking a behind the scenes look at the greatest TV couple, the best friendship, the spookiest storylines, and everything in between, with a fine-tooth comb. (Psst, in case you’ve been living under a rock, the show was brought back in 2016 and is in its 11th season.)
Chris Carter, the show’s creator, came up with the idea for The X-Files after reading a report that said 3.7 million people claimed to have been abducted by aliens. “Everybody wants to hear that story,” Carter told Entertainment Weekly. “[Abduction] is tantamount to a religious experience.” And with 7.4 billion in the world, 3.7 million is a staggeringly high number!
When Carter was asked about his intentions in creating The X-Files, he said, “I’m a child of the Watergate era, so I question authority and mistrust it, that was in my blood. One of my favorite movies is All the President’s Men; the most amazing thing about it, and it’s watchable time and again, is that we know the outcome. Watching it, is where the entertainment value lies. So I knew I would be exploring these things, though I didn’t know I would be doing it for nine years.” Some of the shows and films he credits with The X Files tone and theme are: Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Twin Peaks, The Thin Blue Line, Prime Suspect, and The Silence of the Lambs.
I Want To Believe
Carter wasn’t about stereotypes. Especially when he made Agent Fox Mulder a believer and Agent Dana Scully a skeptic. But did you know that in real life, David Duchovny is actually a skeptic whereas Gillian Anderson is a believer? What a twist! In a 1994 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Anderson said, “Psychokinesis appeals to me. ESP, telling the future, I love that stuff.”
Only One Dana Scully
Turns out that David Duchovny and Jennifer Beals are super close off-screen as they both went to Yale together. So close, that he pushed for Beals to get the part of Dana Scully! “I used to see David on the street—he tried to pick me up on several occasions,” Beals said. “And I said, ‘Um, I’m living with somebody.’ And then I ended up taking this acting class in New York and who walks in the door but David Duchovny. And he’s like, ‘I swear I am not stalking you!’ And we became really good friends. He’s a real sweetheart … When he was doing The X-Files he had talked to me about doing that, but I think Gillian was much better suited for that part than me.”
Scully Influenced Women’s Roles on TV
Gillian Anderson told the Chicago Tribune that Chris Carter “fought tooth and nail to get me rather than what used to be the version of women [on] television back then, which was very different. And ironically it had an international effect on women and on television and how women were not just perceived but how they behaved … This funny old series we were doing had a huge influence on the history of television in many ways, from the lighting on television to the kinds of stories that were being told to the characters. The amount of things you see right now where they even just have a male and female as investigators. It’s almost a joke. It’s like, somebody should come with something different now!” #girlpower
Speaking of Dana Scully, her character was actually inspired by Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs. Chris Carter was quite vocal bout his admiration for Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-winning film The Silence of the Lambs and about the influence it had on The X-Files. “It’s not a mistake that Dana Scully has red hair like Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs,” Carter told Smithsonian magazine.
According to Chris Carter, the Fox Network executives wanted to replace Gillian Anderson as the lead because they wanted a more “glamorous bombshell” for the part. So who were they reaching out to? Pamela Anderson. Now we’re SO glad that never went into fruition! There can only be ONE Dana Scully!
The Smoking Man
Before he was cast as the Cigarette-Smoking Man, William B. Davis had not even smoked a cigarette in 20 years. He was a longtime smoker of 25 years before kicking the habit for nearly 20 years, but the role required him to physically smoke the cigarettes. “That was beginning to wake up some long buried desires,” Davis said. For the first two seasons, he smoked real cigarettes before shifting to herbal.
Speaking of The Smoking Man, Kim Manners (a producer) said that Davis was only meant to appear as an extra leaning on a shelf. Producers didn’t have any intentions for the Smoking Man to be the main antagonist of The X Files. “There was a time when I wasn’t in any episodes, then all of a sudden I had a line or two and I thought, ‘That was interesting,’” Davis told the Palm Beach Post back in 1996. “And that just gradually increased. Then, finally I had a big scene where Mulder comes after me with a gun. That was the turning point where the producers decided this character is really interesting and I guess they felt I was OK to handle it.”
That TV Couple
Originally Dana Scully had a boyfriend by the name of Ethan Minette in the pilot episode. Fox executives added him because they felt there just was not enough “romantic interest” between Fox Mulder and Scully. (Seriously?) Luckily Chris Carter nixed all of his scenes and insisted that the relationship between Mulder and Scully was way more interesting. (Agreed!)
In season four, there is an episode titled “Never Again”. In the episode, Jodie Foster (who had won an Oscar in 1992 for her role as Clarice Starling) provided the voice of Betty, a homicidal tattoo. Yes, you read that correctly. A homicidal tattoo.
Mitch Pileggi had actually auditioned three times in order to land the role of FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner. “I thought, this guy [Chris Carter] either hates me or I must be a totally bad actor,” Pileggi recalled. “But he told me later it was because my shaved head was too extreme for an FBI agent.” HAH, Skinner’s bald head is one of the greatest things about him!
In 1993, during a preview of their fall TV lineup, Entertainment Weekly declared that “This show is a goner.” The reason? The show’s theme and Friday night time slot were their two biggest reasons. Today, The X Files is one of the longest-running sci-fi series in all of television history. BOOM.
The Lone Gunmen
The Lone Gunmen, probably one of the best trio’s the world of TV has ever seen, are a trio of conspiracy theorists who had their own magazine. In fact, they were so popular that they had given their own series in 2001. Just 13 episodes in and the show was cancelled. However the Lone Gunmen would later have the opportunity to address the series finale’s cliffhanger during the ninth season of The X-Files.
Not Always Buds
It’s true that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are tight as thieves, but it wasn’t always like that. They practically hated one another ~until~ The X Files ended. “The crucible of doing that show made monsters out of both of us,” Duchovny told Variety. It wasn’t until they filed the 2008 movie The X-Files: I Want to Believe that the two finally clicked. “Once we got to step back, it was like, ‘Oh, wow, we really like each other. I didn’t know that was going to happen.’ The way we work together has changed. Whatever rapport we have as actors, we earned. It’s nice to be able to play that without ever even feeling like you’re playing it.” Anderson would add, “I think we’re more on each other’s side. We’re more aware of the other’s needs, wants, concerns, and mindful to take those into consideration—and just sharing more about our experiences in the moment, under the sudden realization that we’re both in this together, and wouldn’t it be nice if it were a collaboration?”