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Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz on ‘The X-Files: I Want to Believe’ and Giving J.J. Abrams a Wedgie

Photo: Getty Images


It’s been six years since the show went off the air, but series creator Chris Carter wants to believe that fans will line up to see the new X-Files film when it premieres today. The cloaked-in-mystery new film X-Files: I Want to Believe features the return of our favorite FBI odd couple, Fox “Spooky” Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Carter and Frank Spotnitz, the screenwriter with whom he reunited for the sequel, talked to Vulture about the film and the practical difficulties of running a decent disinformation campaign these days.

So, what was it like returning to the X-Files world after six years?
Chris: Well, in a way it was one of the most natural things in the world because we had done 202 episodes and a movie, so we lived and breathed it for so long, but coming back to it had its unexpected elements. The movie’s in real time, so we had to imagine what David and Gillian had been doing for the last six years.

I do have to tell you guys that the secrecy surrounding this film feels a little bit conspiracy-like.
Frank: That’s right.
Chris: It is a conspiracy of silence, I have to admit.

Tell me about your methods for keeping it so locked down.
Chris: You can imagine how hard it is, especially since you live in the world of the Internet. We think that the element of surprise was something that, if we could preserve it, would make the moviegoing experience that much better, so we went to great lengths to spoil the spoilers. We even resorted to some careful misleads, red herrings, propaganda …
Frank: The thing that we had to be mindful of was any false information we put out there — you don’t want people to be disappointed when it turns out that those things were just fakes.

I see. So I suppose even if you were to tell me anything about the plot, I wouldn’t be able to trust you.
Frank: Nope. Afraid not.
Chris: And you don’t really want to know either. C’mon, admit it.

Okay, okay, that’s true. I am curious, though, if we’ll see a cameo from the Lone Gunmen or anyone else from the series.
Chris: We’ve been mum about who from the regular supporting cast is going to be in the picture, but let me say this: You won’t be disappointed.

The show really tapped into a surprising amount of paranoia when it debuted on television. What do you think has changed about the nature of our fear in the last fifteen years?
Chris: Sitting here in New York it’s very easy to answer that question. Frank and I are sort of children of the Watergate area. I think we had a natural, built-in mistrust of government and authority and of the system. And I think that shows in the spirit and mode of The X-Files. Of course, everything changed when the Twin Towers went down. And I think now, looking at what I would call a post-post-9/11 world, our suspicions have been renewed, our paranoia has been renewed, our doubt has been renewed. It’s all different. It’s a changed landscape for paranoids.

Is there anybody that you guys do trust?
Chris: Yes, of course.

Who?
Chris: Let me think about that for a few hours.

So can you give me any hints about whether we’ll see Mulder and Scully make out?
Frank: In the trailer, it looks like they’re leaning in for a kiss, but — I don’t know — that’s what it looks like.
Chris: Mulder and Scully have kissed, mind you. A couple times. Everybody goes right past that question and asks, “Do they hook up?” It’s the question du jour.

What are the chances that we’ll see a third X-Files film?
Chris: The second X-Files film will be the prospector for that possibility.

Were you a little surprised at the strength of the fan devotion after this many years?
Chris: Yes. During the filming of the movie, all of us filmed until like eight in the morning on a Saturday morning, and without any sleep we got on a plane to go to San Francisco to go to Wonder Con, which is a comic-book convention. We were all bleary-eyed, nobody knowing quite why we were doing this, and we got there and there were 6,000 people screaming their heads off because it was the first time we’d shown the trailer. It was so satisfying.

Do you see the X-Files influence in new shows? Like Lost, for instance?
Frank: It would be nice to think so, but I don’t think we can claim credit for their success or anyone’s any more than the Twilight Zone or Night Stalker or The Outer Limits or the shows that inspired us. It’s all a continuum.

So you never have any crazy desire to give J.J. Abrams a noogie or anything?
Chris: No, he’s a nice guy. Maybe a wedgie. Not a noogie. —Tammy Oler