In The Beginning...

CHRIS CARTER: First and foremost, what I wanted to do was scare people's pants off. I said I wanted to do something as scary as a show that was on when I was a kid, which was Kolchak, The Night Stalker. It was a series that I loved, I could have watched it every night of the week. And so I came up with The X-Files, Mulder, Scully, and the FBI, as a way to explore paranormal phenomena.

I never wanted to make the FBI the bad guy. I always saw the characters at the FBI as being not the ultimate bad guys but the middle men. The people above them, represented by the Cigarette-Smoking Man, were the people who were pulling the strings, the puppeteers, if you will.

The Mulder-Scully idea was always in my mind, and I wanted to flip the gender types, the stereotypes that we have. I wanted Mulder, the male, to be the believer, the intuitor, and I wanted Scully to be the skeptic, the one which is usually the traditional male role.

Personal Magnetism

David Duchovny was an early favorite, and he was a pretty easy person to cast. He fit the character that I had written very well, and played it with a real... uh... he underplayed it is what he did, and I think that was what won him the part. Also, he has a tremendous amount of personal magnetism and sex appeal.

Gillian Anderson was a little more difficult, actually, a lot more difficult. She didn't have the obvious qualities that network executives have come to associate with hit shows. But she was a terrific actress, and she came in and read the part with a seriousness and intensity that I knew the Scully character had to have, and I knew as soon as she read it that she was the right person for the part.


The X-Files is filled with all sorts of inside details, all sorts of things. One of them has become quite well-known now which is the clock reading 11:21, which is my wife's birthday, November 21st. So you'll see those numbers and they will... are meaningful.

Characters' names, as well, they come from, in my scripts, I know they come from old high school friends, predominantly. Fox Mulder, I grew up with a kid named Fox, I always liked the name, and it seemed to go with Mulder, which is my mother's maiden name. Scully's name came from my childhood, where the Voice of God, when you grew up in Los Angeles, is Vin Scully, the guy who announces for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and every night I'd go to sleep with his voice in my head.

Hiding Things In Shadow

The man who shot the pilot for the show, Tom Del Ruth, moved on. He established a nice look which I think has been really refined and changed and made very beautiful by John Bartley who's been on the show since episode one past the pilot and has given us a nice dark subtle look. He makes Scully look beautiful without making her look too glamorous which I never wanted, I wanted the show to look very real. He really helps us to scare you by hiding things in shadow, half-lighting things. He's given the show just a wonderful look, and he's been honored for it, too -- he was just nominated for an ASC award, and he's been nominated for ASC awards in the past on this show.


We had a very difficult scene in the pilot, which was the vortex scene, the scene where the kids were abducted in the forest, and I think that the invasion of Normandy was probably a little simpler because we needed to use real leaves whipping around in a whirlwind, and we needed to use digital leaves, and we needed a special lighting effect, a lighting rig that actually took something like eight hours to construct.

Piping That Blood In

Yeah. The nosebleed scene... it seems easy to create a nosebleed. You, you know, you cut to the reactions of the characters and cut back to your character and you put a little blood on her nose. Well, this nosebleed scene needed to actually happen on camera, and you can't just put something in someone's nose and wait for it to explode, or set it off with remote control. You've got to pipe that blood in to get a good supply in there. And so we had to run a tube down the actresses' forehead and then beside her nose and then shoot her in a semi-profile shot so that it looked like a real nosebleed. Well, in the test, the blood actually came out in her hair instead of in her nose because it exploded in the tube. I thought we were... we were goners. But it turned out that the effect worked perfectly and that nosebleed scene ends up being a very believable and effective and scary moment in the pilot. I think it's pretty cool moviemaking.


The character Deep Throat, of course, came from the famous or infamous Watergate figure who may or may not have existed. And so I felt we needed a connection, somebody who would come from this mysterious, shadowy government, works in some layer or level of government we have no idea exists. He would come to Mulder and Scully and lead them carefully, selectively, without giving them too much, make them work for the answers but help them when they had reached a dead end or help them when they had made a wrong turn. And I thought Deep Throat was the perfect name for him.

I love when we get to the end of the episode, and Mulder, who has seen so much but has learned so little, has had his memory erased, is running around the track, and he sees this figure, which we have established earlier on as Deep Throat, come walking across this field, and it's shot with long lenses and it feels very... it feels very heavy and important. And he says to Agent Mulder that the forces that he is searching for, that he is dealing with, have been around for a long, long time. It is, in fact, a reason for Mulder to carry on, it sets the quest in motion if it already isn't. So I think that really put the series in play with that scene and I like it very much.


I wanted to give them a roller-coaster ride, one that they couldn't get off for an hour, and I think that we've succeeded in doing that, first and foremost. It's become a lot of other things, but I think it is a scary show - that's what's most important about it and that's why I think it's a universal or I should say international phenomenon now. The X-Files has really caught on because people around the world like to be scared.

When I created The X-Files, I knew that I wanted to depart as quickly as possible from the UFO and extra-terrestrial storyline because I knew that the stories couldn't sustain themselves, or the series couldn't sustain itself just by telling that kind of story.

The conception of "Squeeze", the monster, who was a guy who could squeeze through the tiniest of places, really was the idea of Jim Wong and Glen Morgan who had come on to the show. And I think that they not only wrote a wonderful character in Mr. Tooms but they cast a great actor in Doug Hutchison to play the part. He's as scary as the part was written.

Squeezing down the chimney...

I was actually on the set during the filming of that scene when Eugene Victor Tooms slides down that chimney. We hired a contortionist, a man who could actually squeeze into very tiny places to do the actual squeeze down the chimney, and then the shot you see where you are looking upwards and Eugene is reaching down and his hand stretches, is the magic of the art director, whose name was Michael Nemirski, and the man who did the effect, whose name was Mat Beck, who's done three years of The X-Files and done a wonderful job for us. They had him reach down over and over, and then with a computer-generated imager they were able to take his fingers and elongate them, and the added sound effect, I think, really completes the scare.

Harvesting liver...

The idea for the liver-eating and for the nest and for the bile really came from... Jim and Glen wanted the character to harvest the livers of people and do it on a schedule so that, in fact, if we didn't catch this character, he would disappear again and go into hibernation. The bile I think was a suggestion of mine, and it gave us that classic line from Mulder...
("Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?")


As the season was coming to an end, winding down to an end, we thought how would we like to scare people again in the same way, and we thought why not just bring that character back, this wonderful, weird character that Doug Hutchison plays, of Eugene Victor Tooms.


It was an opportunity to introduce the character of Walter Skinner, who became Mulder and Scully's superior now, who has become a very important part of the show, one of the regular cast members now, who plays an important part of the telling of the mythology episodes.

You can't kill the Devil...

The Cigarette-Smoking Man, who has now become known as the Cancer Man as an alternate name, he was never supposed to speak. In fact, we cast an actor who we never imagined would be speaking even though he's quite a competent actor. He was supposed to be more mysterious and dark and a little bit more forbidding because he didn't speak. And he is a complete self-interest, he is the person who we trust least on The X-Files, he is the devil, if you will. Some people ask whether he'll ever die on the show and my answer always is, you can't kill the devil.

Tooms' hideaway...

Doug Hutchison, the actor, who is an interesting character himself, decided he wanted to actually shoot the whole thing naked, was naked on the set. It caused a little bit of discomfort which was good. I think it actually added to the scene. I think David was very nervous about being in a little tiny confined space with a naked man, to be honest. And I think it made the scare, the creep, all that more real, certainly for David, and for the audience in turn.


I'm always struggling with my own faith, and I think that Mulder is, too. I think that he does believe in these things, but I don't think he believes in them wholeheartedly, I think that he, too, has a modicum of scepticism, he won't just believe in anything. And so it's his need and desire to believe, his need to see that object in the sky, to have his beliefs tested. And I think that we all want that, I think we all want to be driving through the desert at night and see something in the sky that we can't explain because it, in fact, is... it's tantamount to a religious experience, and I think that's really what Mulder's about.

After Much Searching

Mark Snow came after much searching through composers, interviewing, listening to tapes. And he was recommended to me by Bob Goodwin, who's the co-executive producer on the show, a person he had worked with before, they were actually personal friends. Mark happens to live very close to me which helps because I'm very hands-on with the music, I like to listen to the music before it ever goes on to the picture, and make little notes, and see how the music is going to augment or supplement or make better the story we're trying to tell, and Mark, he's got such a natural hand at this, a natural facility for it, that I spend so little time now actually trying to guide him or direct him. I go over there just to listen to the beautiful music he puts in the show.

"Conduit" came out as a result of a kind of a kernel of an idea that I had, that Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, who were writing as partners, expanded on. We had come up with this idea of this boy writing down the digits one and zero, which are the digits in all digital information. He was getting them through the television inexplicably. And so I think it was Alex, I remember, saying, what if all of these things added up to a giant puzzle, a mosaic, that in fact drew a picture of the sister that was missing.

A State of Weightlessness

I think one of the most successful parts for me is the realization by Scully at the end that Mulder, in fact, may not be a crackpot, that, in fact, the science that she so depends on points to an abduction, that the girl's physiology, body chemistry at the end of the show says that she may have been in a state of weightlessness, so I think that was interesting. It really helped to define something that was very important to the show, too, which is her point of view. I always felt the stories were told, the show was from Scully's point of view. She was the one we would cut to, her reaction to what Mulder was saying, she was the one who would pull Mulder back, insist 'Look at what you're doing, look what you're saying, you are equating this with your sister.' It was, I think, for us a very defining kind of episode in terms of how to tell these stories using the characters that we'd put in motion.

Emotional Resolutions

That was an interesting episode because the ending, Act 4, was actually not part of the original story. It ended much less concrete, so we added more explanation at the end. I think it's a very successful episode on a number of levels but I think it also helped us to sort of define how X-Files stories should be told in the future, with some resolution, at least emotional resolution, which put Mulder in the church at the end of the episode, very upset about his lost sister as a result of his investigation of this case, which had very similar aspects.


We've always pushed the limits on this show, and if you look at the wonderful images we've created, they have always come to us with much difficulty. Anytime you want to do a special visual effect on a television budget or schedule, you are pushing the limits of what you are capable of for all the various restrictions. It's been a beautiful show in terms of its effects because they've been believable, they've been minimal, they haven't been overblown and supervised and coordinated by the illustrious Mat Beck who has been our special effects producer from the beginning. He comes in and he's got a very, very strong personality, but he knows how to make something good, he's got very good taste. So he is, I think, a secret weapon on this show, as is Graeme Murray, the production designer who has done the lion's share of work on the show. These people really help to give it the cinematic look that I think it has and I think that makes it different than anything else on television.

I think in the "Fallen Angel" episode, Max Fenig represented a kind of kook that we all believe is out there, saying 'Look up in the sky, it's up there, it's out there.' And Mulder and Scully run into him and treat him as such, but I think that it's a journey for Mulder and Scully to see, and for the audience to see, that these people who are crying wolf might be doing it for a reason. So I think that was an interesting look into that kind of character out there and the fact that they may be credible and may be seeing and knowing things that we don't. So Max Fenig actually became a very popular character who was abducted at the end of the episode, may actually return some day.

Bright Lights and Smoke

There are, I think, there are certain images in it that stand out for me: the men at the crash site, or what is not supposed to be a crash site, going over it with instruments and the smoke and the bright glare that Mulder is documenting with his camera before he gets taken by the troops.

My Own Twisted Imagination

People ask me where I get my ideas for the alien abductions and things and what do I read, and I tell them that I actually don't read anything anymore because whatever I imagine someone has imagined before me. There is nothing that hasn't, that is out there, that someone hasn't thunk up about before. And so I don't have to go that far for my material, I just go into the sort of twisted, my own twisted imagination. And there is research done, the idea of implants is a pervasive one in the world of believers of extraterrestrial life and alien abduction and so are the marks, bruises and scars left from experiments done by these extraterrestrial forces. So these were real things, and when we say actual documented accounts in the pilot, it's true. It's an amalgam of bits and pieces of stories and information that I gathered by reading about alien abduction.

What You Don't See...

I always think that what you don't see is actually scarier than what you do see. You need a good otherworldly effect or else it's going to look like a monster of the week. As soon as you create a monster, you give it shape, you've defined it, and then you can know it or you can catch it. But something that is invisible as energy, pure energy, is much more interesting, I think, certainly as a paranormal story, than something that is very real and has a, you know, a fur coat or, you know, a waggy tail.


The idea came from two writers, Chris Brancato and Ken Biller. They came in and pitched us the idea, and it was originally called "The Girls From Greenwich", and it was about an experiment, a genetic experiment about identical sets of twins. And we were lucky enough to get this tremendous actress who came in Harriet Harrison. This was just one of those rare moments where we knew we had the right person to play the part and so I think she brought a lot of interesting facets to that character, and had to play dual roles.

The Writers' Wives...

Finding the little girls who played the Eves on this show was difficult only in that we had very few choices. We had to cast the roles in Vancouver, and found these two little girls who have become, you know, very popular characters now during the life of the series, they actually appeared at conventions. And they've grown up quite a bit now so they hardly look like those innocent, or devilish, little girls that they were then.

The names of the two little girls are the names of Glen Morgan and James Wong's wives, Cindy and Teena, and so that's a little inside joke there.

Twisted and Psychotic

I love the scene where they go visit the Eve in the insane asylum and she is twisted and psychotic and Mulder and Scully interview her. I think it's a great scene. I love the teaser where the little girl is hugging her teddy bear out in the street and two joggers come by and find that her daddy is sitting slumped in the swing set - he has been exsanguinated. It's kind of a horrific image and not something you see on your regular network TV show.


I grew up during the era of Watergate, and it was a very informative and powerful time for me, and it made me really distrust any institution who wanted to exercise its authority over people. The government is kind of an all-purpose bad guy on The X-Files but I think one only has to pick up his newspaper to see that this isn't far from the truth. Every day we are seeing a public apology for some transgression, misdeed. It's not so far from the truth and I think that this is a very pervasive attitude and idea in America, that the government may indeed not be working in your best interest.

When I came up with the idea for "Darkness Falls", it was really a result of a college experience I had, where we had studied dendrochronology, which is the reading of the rings in the tree chunks, and I always wondered if a tree is thousands of years old why couldn't it be a time capsule for something that had existed that far back? And so, I wanted to do something that had cocoons and nests, and I wanted to also do a bottle show, which is a show where you take the characters up into the woods and keep them there for a certain amount of time and pit them against each other.

Digital Bugs...

I think it turned out to be one of the most successful episodes because it was a good idea and I think the special effects, which were these bugs, which were all digital bugs, these swarms of green, I think really sort of stole the show.


When I first conceived the show, I knew it wouldn't be a show about UFOs only or even predominantly. I knew that was the foundation on which I wanted to build, but you'll see episodes early on like "Ice" and like "Beyond The Sea", which take it into other realms, which deal with the psychic world, which deal with paranormal matters that are not about extraterrestrials.

It was inspired by The Thing, as anyone who knows the genre will tell you, but it was... I think it worked even better as an X-File. It pitted the characters of Mulder and Scully against each other in a way that was, I think, very interesting and a new look at their characters early on in the series. It's the stuff of great drama, and to see it resolved as it was resolved, in a rather strange and weird way with these Arctic worms, which one is nearly put into Mulder's body, was, you know, it was just good, good stuff, and, actually, I think pulled off rather believably.

Creep Out Factor

We created fake skins, and we put them over bottles and we would pull things underneath them. This was also the work of Toby Lindala, our great make-up artist who works on the show. And the dog's fur was also manufactured and wrapped tight over a surface and then the worm was pulled beneath that. But you also see digital worms. That worm that crawls in the dog's ear is a worm that's been digitally created.

So you get a little of the real, a little of the not-so-real, and a lot of movie magic. And we were sure that we had gone too far with this worm, that we had pushed the limits of good taste and creep out factor... but we all realized how good it would be if we were allowed to keep it in. So I think, as David Duchovny says, it was one of our first rockin' episodes.


Really, what you see with The X-Files each week is really what I had in mind, believe it or not. It's pretty true to the original vision. I had this idea of the Mulder character having had an experience in his childhood that only became clear to him later on, which was the abduction of his sister which could have been a kidnapping but which he believed may have been an abduction by an extraterrestrial force.

Scully is an interesting character because she had been to med school but opted not to practise, and, I mean, that's a big commitment in your life and she had decided to turn a corner that was unanticipated probably by her and certainly by her parents, and I saw that as an interesting part of Scully's character.

"Beyond The Sea" is my favorite episode from the first season for a number of reasons. The writers of that episode, Glen Morgan and James Wong, had pitched me an idea that I liked a lot about the death of Scully's father, which is a big leap but the channelling of Scully's dead father through this death row prisoner, I felt, was a really interesting way to turn the tables on the characters.

Thanksgiving Dinner...

The character of Luther Lee Boggs, played by Brad Dourif, was, I think, certainly the most interesting portrayal of the first season, and the truth is that we almost didn't get Brad Dourif for the part. You've got to pay a little bit more money for him. The studio was resistant, reluctant to do that. I ended up calling Peter Roth, the man who I originally pitched The X-Files idea to, I called him at home on Thanksgiving evening, he was sitting with his family eating Thanksgiving dinner and I think just to get me off the phone, just to get me out of his hair, he said yes to the idea and we spent a little bit more money and got what I felt was a really a tour-de-force acting job out of Brad Dourif.

Looking for a Song...

That was Glen Morgan, I believe, looking for a song that would play against the mood of that funeral. It was, I thought, a really eerie song to have playing over a funeral which is, you know, a very solemn moment, and it ended up becoming, of course, very important to the story because it's the song that Luther Lee Boggs sings to Scully to make her believe that he is channelling her dead father.


When I think back to "E.B.E.", I think of that scene with Deep Throat and Mulder sitting in Washington when they have a very sort of interesting discussion where Deep Throat gives him some information that sets the whole caper in motion, and then Deep Throat ends up becoming a character of certain misinformation, and in the end prevents Mulder and Scully from learning what it is that they want to learn. So I think it helps to take his character in an interesting direction, which is to make him as much a man who can be trusted as sometimes mistrusted.

Wild Conspiracy Ideas...

We cast Jerry Hardin in the role, and I think he has just brought that character to life in a way that helps give the show a believability, which is so important if you are to do these wild conspiracy ideas.

Creepy and Wonderful...

There is a scene in "E.B.E.", which is a kind of abduction scene that is preceded by Mulder and Scully having a bright flash of light as they are following a semi down the road, they get out of their car and realize that the alien is gone. I just thought that it was so creepy, the inside of that truck, picking through those boxes and finding an elaborate little medical laboratory where something had been in this truck. It was, I don't know, it was a very strange scene and kind of creepy and wonderful, and it led to the finding of a similar kind of operation at the ending of the show, a nice little book-ending of those elements. A very successful episode, I think, overall, and we didn't see an alien during the show which was the amazing thing. We only suggested that, in fact, one was in that truck at some point.


I had been wanting to do a story about alien genes and alien hybrids, and the idea that there were scientists who were using this material from aliens that had been collected or recovered or salvaged, and trying to mix them with human DNA. And so, for the first time, I think, we have Scully in a situation where she has a scientist, someone like herself, a doctor, say to her, 'You are looking at something that is essentially extraterrestrial,' and it's a big, big moment for her.

1616 Pandora

The address of the storage facility where Mulder finds these tanks with these bodies in solution is, I believe, 1616 Pandora, which, to be honest, is the actual address of the warehouse that we used. I had come up with an elaborate address that had some kind of strange significance to genetics, and we got to the location and they said, 'So you want us to paint a sign for this place, and it's supposed to say this, this, and this...' and I said, no, you know, I think 1616 Pandora is actually a better address. It is an opening of Pandora's box, in a way, so I thought it was very useful.

In cahoots with Aliens

"The Erlenmeyer Flask", which is the season-ender for year one, was something that I had thought about all year long. I think that it was an episode that really, I feel, established a mythology: what the government may be up to, how they might be in cahoots with the aliens. For me it was the result of a year-long learning experience and I think that it may have been, really, the signature mythology episode, not only a sign to the audience of what we were capable of, but certainly a realization for me of where we could take this show if we explored these different avenues of government conspiracy and turn it into more than just flying saucers. It became about mankind and about science and the misuse of it.