At 6am in the morning, director Chris Carter was in British Columbia shooting a scene for The X-Files: I Want to Believe. At 3:30pm, he and co-writer/co-producer Frank Spotnitz were in San Francisco, facing the press together at WonderCon. Carter was creator and executive producer of The X-Files, as well as a frequent writer and director for the series' nine hit seasons. Carter's Ten Thirteen Productions also developed Harsh Realm, The Lone Gunmen, and Millennium, the latter a sole creation of Carter. Spotnitz joined The X-Files in 1994 and stayed on until 2002, when the show ended. An Emmy-nominated writer-producer, Spotnitz also headed up the "reimagined" The Night Stalker for ABC, created and executive produced X-Files spin-off The Lone Gunmen, executive produced Harsh Realm and Michael Mann's Robbery Homicide Division, and co-executive produced Millennium. Together, the two men co-wrote the big-screen adventure The X-Files: Fight the Future and its new sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the latter being Carter's feature-film directing debut. As for the press conference, it was a surreal jousting match between the press and two men determined to say almost nothing about the film they were there to promote—alternately stonewalling, equivocating, and deflecting with humor.
Groucho: Can I just ask for the—I know you can’t say too much—but for the pitch version of the movie? Or a tantalizing version of what this movie is about?
Frank Spotnitz: Well you know, we’re keeping it secret, as everybody knows, because we think it’s like a Christmas present and everybody wants to sort of tear the wrapping and get a peek, but it’s more fun to go and be surprised, y’know, and so we’re not taking about what happens in the movie…
Chris Carter: It’s a standalone [story].
Groucho: How about where the characters find themselves since we’ve last left them, or what state of mind do they find themselves in?
Chris Carter: That’s a good question, and I think that that’s actually part of the movie. So to tell you that would be to give away a chunk [of it].
Frank Spotnitz: But we can tell you it’s true to where they are in their lives six years after the show ended. We pick up, y’know, in the present day and we thought a lot about that and I think our hope was that fans would feel rewarded because we’re honoring—we’re true to the characters and what they’ve been through and where they would be at this point in their lives. What’s also exciting to us about this is that you don’t need to have watched The X-Files to understand or enjoy this movie and we’re hoping it’s an opportunity to introduce new moviegoers to these characters… All I can say is that this movie is true to the characters and what they’ve been through and so, while it doesn’t deal with the alien conspiracy and all that stuff, I think people are gonna feel we’ve honored everything that’s come before.
G: What are some of the broader themes? Again, without touching on plot, what are, loosely, ideas?
CC: There’s a beef recall…
FS: It’s actually been really entertaining and enjoyable to read all the stuff on the internet because there’s so much misinformation and so much that’s not correct, which works for us because we don’t want people spoiling the fun of the movie. So I would say to fans, the fans who are checking out these websites, just don’t trust or believe anything.
CC: Trust no one.
FS: Wait for the movie…
G: Can you guys talk about what got you excited in returning to The X-Files, in terms of your creative juices?
CC: Uhhm. I think it was an opportunity to—I think we—I’ve always felt that there are more good stories to tell and that, even though we ended the show at the right time, as far as the mood in the country and where we had ended up at Season Nine, that there were still other stories to tell with those characters, and I think that that really was part of the inspiration. That there was enthusiasm from David and Gillian to come back. That there was enthusiasm from Frank. I wouldn’t want to have done this without my friends or without—just to do a movie. It had to be an experience where I was enjoying myself…
G: About how you guys collaborate, do you write together or trade drafts?
CC: We have a secret way we do it…
G: Have there been preliminary discussions about, if it is a hit, maybe a sequel coming along more quickly or streamlining that process?
CC: It’s hard to say. I mean I have literally had fifteen minutes sleep in the last twenty-four hours. Talking about doing another X-Files movie is like—my eyeballs just start spinning around…
G: [Your panel] got the biggest reaction of anything I’ve seen so far.
CC: Really?...It was amazing. It looked like a standing-room-only house, and that was just—it was incredible. Mind-blowing…
G: You said on the stage that you get to see Mulder and Scully again in a whole new way. Can you tell us anything about what new facets of their characters come out in this story?
CC: Mulder’s a cross-dresser. Aah, I’m not going to tell you, only because you really don’t want to know…
G: Um, Amanda Peet is a new character in the film. Can you talk anything about what person, or what kind of attitude, or different kind of character she brings to the mix?
CC: Uh, the name is, uh. (Pause.) No one said anything about the name.
G: She’s an FBI agent, correct?
CC: She is an FBI agent. You’re either getting some kind of weird alien something—. Three minute warning. Um, what’s the question again?
G: Amanda Peet.
CC: Oh, I’m sorry. Amanda Peet’s character. She plays a special agent in charge, so she’s a person with some authority. She’s got a few people working underneath her. And she comes into contact with Mulder and Scully.
G: Does she represent a challenge to that, to their way of working?
G: Was it at all difficult reigning in Billy Connelly?
CC: No, I mean he is not—he is like the most gentle, wonderful man, as well as actor.
G: So much energy, though.
CC: He’s really a fine dramatic actor. As funny as he is, this guy is a really accomplished actor. And a delight to have around, obviously.