On the latest episode of The X-Files, FBI Special Agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) attempt to unravel the latest mysteries presented by the series’ ongoing alien conspiracy mythology. And just in case you were wondering, yes it’s 2018 and not 1993. Chris Carter’s popular science fiction series first premiered on September 10th, 1993 and ran until May 19th, 2002, but it returned for a short six-episode revival in 2016, which went well enough to produce yet another round.
Whether the 10th season was worth it became a subject of some debate, but a (better received) eleventh season premieres tonight. We spoke with Duchovny and Anderson about it at the 2017 New York Comic Con in October, at which point half of season 11 had been filmed. Despite the convention’s otherwise intense atmosphere, the pair was excited about the prospect of continuing Mulder and Scully’s respective storylines into the 21st century for a new batch of 10 episodes.
Coming back to this world for the second time in as many years, what’s been the biggest surprise?
Gillian Anderson: I guess the biggest surprise was how much fun it would be. We’ve had a lot of fun, and I don’t want to say this because there’s no wood around to knock on, but we’re halfway through it and it feels like the hours have been kinder to us this year. We haven’t been pulling many 17-hour days, which we used to do all the time. As an older person, that’s quite nice. So it feels like we are delivering everything that is expected of us to deliver, but it’s more manageable somehow.
David Duchovny: I don’t know if I’m surprised. I think what’s interesting to me is to think about how the world has kind of caught up to Mulder’s conception of it. You know, this was a guy who was telling us our government was lying to us back in ’93 and only a few people believed him. It’s an interesting proposition to take by putting this guy into a world that is maybe more receptive to his way of thinking. I think a lot of what makes the show interesting is that Mulder’s such an underdog. I’m not sure he is anymore. It’s such a different proposition.
You said what Mulder believed in 1993 is now seems more mainstream, yet what made him Mulder was his always being an outsider. Has the character changed now that his beliefs are no longer all that extraordinary?
Duchovny: Yeah, he would have to be. It’s interesting to think about it in terms of the internet, because back in ’93, and even until we stopped the run of the show, Mulder was getting his information from blogs, little newspapers, and other clandestine sources. Now that kind of information, false and true, is open to just about everyone. It’s an interesting question. I think there are interesting questions to be asked about how you play a character years later, or how the world has changed to either catch up to that character or make them utterly obsolete.
Ultimately what makes the show — or any drama, piece of entertainment, or art — enduring is actually something that never changes, which is our humanity. Our capacity to wonder, or to imagine. I think that that’s what the show was always about, and I think this or that president, the internet or not, phones or not — all of these things are as deep as they impact us all, but they’re actually superficial things. What the show is actually about, and to me what makes it enduring, is its humanity. Is it human? I hope so.
Now that the world has gone the way of Mulder, where does Scully’s skepticism fit? Does it?
Anderson: Even in the olden days the statement would be, “I didn’t see it. And even if I did see it, it still probably doesn’t exist. It can’t possibly exist.” You can still question the existence and the impossibility of something even though it’s right in front of you. So let’s say that an alien is standing in front of me. In that moment, you can still have the conversation about how that is even possible. David can still talk about its possibilities and I can still talk about its impossibilities, and yet we can both be looking at the same thing. This dynamic hasn’t changed at all, and maybe Scully’s degree of skepticism has shifted somewhat, but she is still a scientist and a doctor. She still has to ask those questions about the universe, to Mulder or anybody else she can talk to.