During San Diego Comic-Con’s twentieth anniversary celebration for “The X-Files,” creator Chris Carter had several surprises waiting for him.
“One is that they could fill [the Convention Center's Ballroom 20] to capacity,” Carter said when he spoke with MTV News on the phone. “That’s just an amazing thing for me after 20 years. The second thing is that I was just so — amazed isn’t the right word — pleased to see all the people that I worked with having prospered and their families have grown up, and that was just a very rewarding moment.”
Howard Gordon, executive producer of “24″ and “Homeland,” was one of those former colleagues in attendance, as was “Breaking Bad” mastermind Vince Gilligan. Carter told us that he’s seen every episode of “Breaking Bad” except for the last three. “I owe Vince a call because he called me for my birthday in October and I didn’t get back to him because I hadn’t seen those episodes.”
With “Breaking Bad” devotees eagerly awaiting its spin-off series “Better Call Saul,” Carter reflected on his own experience spinning off his material. That spin-off, “The Lone Gunmen” premiered in March 2001 and focused on three conspiracy-obsessed recurring characters from “The X-Files.” Despite the love fans and critics had for Byers, Langly and Frohike, “The Lone Gunmen” was canceled after 13 episodes.
Carter theorized that a lack of promotion and bad timing were factors in the show’s demise. “Things were changing right about that time,” he said. “Reality TV was sneaking in, and right when ‘The X-Files’ ended there was a kind of change in the landscape.”
Carter is still fiercely proud of “The Lone Gunmen” — “I think it’s so good and so funny,” he said. So what words of wisdom can he offer to the makers of Saul’s spin-off series? “Oh gosh, those people don’t need any advice,” he said. “They all know what they’re doing.”
Though the second and latest “X-Files” feature film premiered back in 2008, Carter is still involved in that universe: He’s executive producer of IDW’s current XF comic series, scripted by Joe Harris. “The X-Files Season 10″ isn’t the first time FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have appeared in comic book form, but it’s the first under Carter’s guidance.
“I’d never been involved in the comics before because I had no time and really no inclination,” Carter explained. But when he heard what was being planned for the series, he offered to step in. “I think they’ve been doing a really good job,” he said. “I like that there are characters coming back, they’re bringing characters to life, and that tickles me.”
Carter has also been busy with non-X-Files material. He’s finishing up a pilot for Amazon called “The After” which, according to the new studio, “follows eight strangers who are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation.”
Then there’s the super-secret AMC project he’s working on. “I wrote a script that I got a good response to,” Carter said. “Right now it’s still in the development stage.” Regarding the subject matter, Carter only conceded that it has something to do with conspiracies. Seems like he’s heading back into familiar territory.
Carter did divulge something about a third “X-Files” feature film, the prospect of which excites X-Philes immeasurably. If and when it happens, it won’t be rebooted, recast or reimagined; it will be the original Mulder and Scully all the way. “I can’t imagine not doing it with David [Duchovny] and Gillian [Anderson],” Carter said of his two lead actors. “For me they are ‘The X-Files.’”
After two decades, Chris Carter continues to wonder at what his iconic creation has wrought. “There are people coming up to me telling me they’re fans of the show, and they weren’t even born when the show debuted,” he said. “And that’s really kind of a shocker.”