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X-Files creator Chris Carter has a message for anyone who gets vertigo thinking about alien abduction, lone gunmen, syndicates, black oil, and super soldiers: It's OK to come back to The X-Files. He discusses why this time around, newcomers will find reason to believe.
Q: Why did you decide to make a new movie now, six years after the series ended?
A: Actually we had talked about doing another movie even when the series was ongoing. Then there was a contractual dispute over some television profits, and the resolution ended up taking years. But when it was finally solved in March of 2007, I was hanging up the phone with my lawyers, and Fox was on the other line saying, "Do you want to make that movie?"
Q: Did the story you envisioned change over the years?
A: This will make you laugh, but we worked out a story that we really liked in 2003, and when we went back to look at that story again, we had lost it. We couldn't find our notes. It was maddening, but it ended up being a really good thing because over that time, we'd changed and the characters in our mind changed. We wanted to play this in real time, so the characters had grown. The heart of the story changed, and that was for the best.
Q: This movie veers away from the alien invasion mythology of the series, towards monster-of-the-week horror. Why?
A: I'd call it more suspense/thriller than horror. But the reason is we'd already done an alien mythology movie. Also, six years have gone by since the show and there is a brand new audience out there that has very little exposure to The X-Files. I thought this was a good time to introduce it to them, and reintroduce it to casual viewers. We've tried to interweave the characters' development into the story, but it's got very easy handles on it for new viewers -- we didn't want to abuse the hardcore fans by trying to explain all the mythology again.
Q: Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad, told us he learned from you that a story is only as good as it is believable. How do you make such fantastical stories believable?
A: My rule is it's scarier if it takes place with in the realm of extreme possibility. And that's true of the movie we've done. I resist the horror and science fiction labels because our story is something that takes science and says, "What if?" If you can look right over the horizon of the frontier, then I think you're dealing in the zone I'm talking about.
Q: Mulder and Scully's romantic relationship in this film is the subject of much speculation. Why did you wait until now?
A: I think we always dealt with this relationship. It was the centerpiece of the series. And while it was chaste and respectful and professional, the relationship played itself out through a shared quest for a search for the truth. But the passage of time gives us a chance to look at these characters, imagine what they've been doing for the last six years, and treat that like we never would on the series. It would have ended up being a soap opera, and I always resisted a temptation to domesticate the show.
Q: Why did you choose I Want to Believe as the title for this film?
A: There's been a poster on Mulder's wall since the beginning that says "I Want to Believe." It's always been about his struggle with faith. The characters each have built-in conflicts, Scully's being that she is a scientist, but she's got a cross around her neck -- she's Catholic. Mulder is a non-religious person and yet he has tremendous faith in what I would call a spirit world. "I Want to Believe" for me always represented that struggle. It's emblematic of the show, and I thought it was the right title for this movie. I like that poster.
Q: You've said you'd like to do a third movie. Would you want to return to the alien invasion story, or do you feel like that was wrapped up enough in the series?
A: No we don't feel like it's been resolved. There's this roving date out there we've been talking about since the beginning of the series and it's actually part of the literature of the subject, which is December 22, 2012. It's the day that the Mayan calendar says the aliens will return. It's something we put out there, and it's something that if we're lucky enough to go forward, we would think about.