It isn’t hard to imagine The X-Files without David Duchovny, because the show tried it and it didn’t work. While Robert Patrick was popular as John Doggett throughout the eighth and ninth seasons of the series, it simply wasn’t the same and Duchovny couldn’t be replaced. But what if he’d never taken the role at all?
Speaking on the latest episode of Rob Lowe’s Literally! podcast, the Fox Mulder actor says that he initially didn’t see the potential in the show and came very close to turning down the role that made him a household name.
“I had gotten… a couple of scenes in this movie of the week, and it was a director who I was friendly with, and I was going to have to…pull out of that part to do The X-Files pilot,” explains Duchovny, who told his agents at the time that he didn’t want to pull out of the gig and let his friend down. Even after being talked around, the actor was unsure how far exactly the show would go, fearing it wouldn’t run for very long.
X-Files, this is about extraterrestrials. How long can it go? It’s a good pilot, but you’re either going to see the aliens or [not]… It’s scary to think back on if you didn’t open this door, or you took that left instead of that right. It’s like, none of it had to happen. You talk about actors being dumb…well, that was me.
Duchovny, of course, eventually agreed to star in the hit series, and his chemistry with Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully helped make The X-Files a cultural phenomenon in the 1990s, spawning nine original seasons alongside two movies, video games, comics and books. It’s easy to believe that none of that would have been possible without two of the most perfect pieces of casting ever made.
Fighting for the Future
Fans continue to clamor for more X-Files, despite two additional seasons from FOX in 2016 and 2018 getting mixed receptions from both critics and audiences alike. With the 30th anniversary of the show’s debut coming up in 2023, Duchovny says that any more from the franchise is now a question for Disney.
You know, they’re weird because it’s… a big-ticket property, and you think, why wouldn’t you try to do another one? So, I don’t know.
While the live-action X-Files may have stalled, work is progressing on the spin-off The X-Files: Albuquerque, an animated comedy that won’t revolve around either Mulder or Scully. Instead, the show will deal with an office of misfit FBI agents investigating the cases that are too absurd even for Agent Mulder.
Gillian Anderson has already said that her days playing Dana Scully are over, and it seems that whatever the future holds for the franchise, it will be far different from anything that we’ve seen before. However, with the rights now belonging to Disney, it seems unlikely they’ll sit on a valuable franchise for long, as the forthcoming Albuquerque appears to indicate.
Like the truth, X-Files creator Chris Carter still believes there are stories out there. “I think there are lots more stories to tell and ways to tell them,” he said. “Hard-core X-Files fans know there have been no real endings on the show.”
What those stories are Agent Mulder will be involved with them remains to be seen.