Chris Carter is not one to count his chickens before they hatch, but that doesn't mean The X-Filescreator isn't already mulling over ideas for additional episodes of the beloved series. In fact, he had already started writing a third X-Files movie before the idea of a television revival was even on the table. But Carter will have to wait until Sunday when The X-Files returns for a six-episode miniseries to see if the appetite for the paranormal crime-solving of Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) is still there.
But what's kept Carter - and the fans - so invested in The X-Files for all these years? Will Mulder and Scully ever get back together? Is the truth still out there? In anticipation of the series' return, TVGuide.com asked Carter all our burning X-Files questions. Check out what he has to say below.
In the years sinceThe X-Fileswent off the air, how often did you still think about the show?
Chris Carter: Every day. It's the truth. Whenever I open the newspaper, which is every day, I always see a story where I think, "Wow. That could be an interesting X-File." I have to say it's in my DNA now after doing it almost 25 years.
When did you first start to seriously consider bringing it back?
Carter: There had been talk of doing a third movie and I had actually written what I would call a study for that idea. So, I had been messing around with it completely informally on my own. Then we had a 20th year reunion at Comic-Con in San Diego three years ago and we were asked about coming back to television and I just took it as idle chatter and sort of forgot about it. But the people at Fox, I guess, were listening because they had conversations with the actors, I had come to find out, and the actors were interested in coming back. And so I got a call a year ago in October asking if I would be interested in coming back, right out of the blue. I said if the actors are interested, which I was told they were, I was all in. That's how it all began.
Why do you thinkThe X-Fileshas stood the test of time?
Carter: You have to think that it's because we were consistent, we told interesting stories. But I think the real reason is the characters of Mulder and Scully, as played by David and Gillian, are the beating heart of the show. It's the reason people have come back time and again and hopefully will come back in 2016.
How has the dynamic between Mulder and Scully evolved when we see them again?
Carter: They had a platonic relationship for almost the entire run of the first series. And while their relationship seemed to advance and even be consummated in the birth of a child, it was all alluded to. You never saw it onscreen. So the sexual tension, if you want to call it that - I'll call it the tension brought on by their professional intimacy - was heightened over almost 200 episodes of television. When they finally got together, it came as a shocker and surprise to everyone, but if you think about it, it was the most natural thing in the world. It wasn't until the second movie that we actually saw them in what I would consider a provocative intimacy, in the same bed together.
Originally, you had no plans to make Mulder and Scully love interests.
Carter: No, even though I got pressured to do so. I thought it would be a giant mistake: two people working together having a relationship. It seemed it would be shooting yourself in the foot.
Some fans are very upset about Mulder and Scully breaking up in between the second movie and the revival. When you decided to break them up, did you anticipate this strong of a reaction?
Carter: No. But I hope it's a very vocal minority out there expressing this. And I'm sorry those people are unhappy, but it felt natural to me, knowing the characters as I do, that they would be uncomfortable living under one roof with their very strong and opinionated personalities. And also, this was alluded to in the first episode, with Mulder's particular character makeup. He's a very isolated character now that he's no longer at the FBI. And Scully, wanting to work as a doctor, needs to be out of the house. So I think that created a natural tension.
Is there any hope of Mulder and Scully getting back together?
Carter: There's an opportunity and a chance. This isn't just six episodes. This is a character arc. And we see them a way we haven't seen them before because they're dealing with completely new experiences in their lives. I think the 'shippers should watch carefully because we weren't just doing this for effect. We were actually being honest with the characters and how they might reunite.
What was it like for you to return to this world and write these characters again?
Carter: It was wonderful. You asked if I think about this, and I do all the time. Their voices kind of live in my head now. That is really the result of it spanning three decades of my life. It's a beautiful thing in this day and age of career changes every three to five years to be doing the same thing over the course of a lifetime, because it's given me such a rich opportunity as a storyteller.
How did the process of making this miniseries compare to making the original series?
Carter: It wasn't that much different. We actually met in Glen Morgan's backyard, so it wasn't necessarily a [writers'] room, it was more of a writers' patio. That was a very easy thing. There was shorthand. We all worked together before. We worked in the same way, which is we all plotted on bulletin boards with 3x5 cards. .. We all came back with very strong points of view, very strong story ideas. That all came naturally. I would say it wasn't a writers' room. We didn't sit around and write the scripts in thin air, as it were. We all talked about our ideas, we all went off and developed our ideas, we all came back and pitched those developed ideas, we all went and wrote those developed ideas, then we all turned scripts in to each other. That's how we've always done it and how we did it here.
The world has changed a lot since we last sawThe X-Files. How has the post-9/11 and Snowden era influenced the show?
Carter: Completely influenced it. It's a great time to be telling X-Files stories. When we went off the air in 2002, the world was a much different place. Nobody wanted to hear about government conspiracies. We wanted to hear about how the government was going to protect us. We were obsessed with our security and we were willing to give up rights and liberties to that effect. We're living in a world now where we're looking at the rollback of those rights and liberties and the abuse of them and the expanded intelligence apparatus. The government admits that it's spying on us. I think it's given everyone pause and created a world of tremendous distrust.
Have you also taken advantage of advances in technology and the possibilities that opens up?
Carter: Yes, we're playing with technology and [being] honest to it. Technology is important to the characters and the way they view the world and the way they communicate with each other. And [it affects] the way they interface with aspects of their jobs, if the X-Files is their job, in a way that they had never experienced previously. Where they once had to get out and pound the pavement to find answers, now they do it with a keystroke. We play with that. We play with the ironies of that.
Practical effects played such a huge role in the show when it came to creating the monsters. Are you still relying a lot on practical effects or will there be more CGI?
Carter: It's funny, I was given really smart advice early on that the best way to scare people in television is to scare them with what they don't see rather than what they do see, because you don't have time or money to do it. That continues to be the case. On a television schedule and with a television budget, you can't do giant special effects. You have to do a lot practically. With that said, the technology has advanced in such a way that you can do a lot more now with special effects than you ever could with a television budget on a television schedule. So, we took advantage of that. We also took advantage of a longer post-production schedule where you could perfect those special effects and do things that when I was doing the series originally you couldn't do because the air dates came so close together.
How big of a role will aliens play in the actual miniseries?
Carter: They are all-important to the mythology of the show — have always been and will continue to be. You'll find in three out of the six episodes, alien technology or aliens are important to the storytelling. So, I would say that the conspiracy, which has always been about the government's intention to keep the truth about the existence of extra-terrestrials from us, is alive and well, but has taken on a whole new life.
You only have four monster-of-the-week episodes in the season, so were there any creatures you wished you had been able to include had there been more episodes?
Carter: Yeah, there was a chance we were going to do a seventh episode, and I had the writers working furiously to create that seventh episode, and they came up with something really good. Ultimately, we just ran out of time and space to do it, so that episode was not filmed. But it was a great, spooky story with really interesting Mulder and Scully stories inside that episode. I'll tell you, I think there are an endless number of X-Files stories to tell. Every day I write down a new idea so if there are to be more, I've got a jump on it.
Was there anyone you wish you had been able to incorporate into the revival that you couldn't due to scheduling?
Carter: Yeah, behind the camera and in front of the camera we would have loved to have Robert Patrick, who was all-important to the end of the series, but he's on another show. We had a lot of the supporting cast back, but behind the camera: Vince Gilligan, I asked to come back to the show, but he was unable because he was on Better Call Saul;Frank Spotnitz is on Man in the High Castle; I never got a chance to ask Howard Gordon, who has his own show Tyrant; Alex Gansa is on Homeland. So there are people who we would have liked to work with, but we just couldn't.
If this revival is a success, would you be excited at the opportunity to do more?
Carter: It's been talked about. Certainly it's been suggested. It's been mentioned in casual conversation. But I think everyone's taking a wait and see approach and I'm taking it as well. I've told you now a number of times, there's lots more X-Files, endless X-Files, to tell. If I'm given the opportunity, time and money and place to do it, of course I'd be interested.
The X-Files airs Sunday at 10/9c and Monday at 8/7c on Fox.