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Behind the scenes of ''The X-Files''

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On Oct. 4, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) once again fire up their beacon-power flashlights to search murk and gloom for paranormal phenomena. Over three seasons, their investigations have taken them from the Arctic Circle to New Mexico, from Hong Kong to Puerto Rico. But some of the most intriguing mysteries lie in a cluster of rooms the duo seldom visit: their apartments and workplace.

In the world of The X-Files, these rooms are in Washington, D.C. But, truth be told, they actually exist as several sets on a cavernous soundstage in Vancouver, B.C., where the Fox drama series shoots. Since the agents are so often away chasing the unknown, the actors find these spaces to be somewhat, well, alien — even if they barely change from one year to the next. Wandering around Mulder’s cluttered office, intended to be in the basement of FBI headquarters, Duchovny remarks, ”I don’t think I’ve ever really looked at this stuff.”

Occasionally, though, a sight jogs the stars’ memories. Standing in the kitchen where Scully once bathed Queequeg, her Pomeranian pooch, in the sink, Anderson recounts a scene of horror: The dog had a wicked case of gas. ”I had to hold my breath while saying my lines,” she recalls. ”Something was dying inside that dog.” (In an episode soon after, Queequeg is suitably punished: She’s eaten, presumably by an alligator.)

Come to think of it, neither of the agents’ homes has been very hospitable. Mulder’s functional and dimly lit digs have been the scene of gunpoint showdowns, and the water was once laced with a violence-inducing drug. Worse, Scully’s apartment has been the site of an abduction (her own), the appearance of a ghost (her father’s), and a fatal shooting (her sister’s). ”Creepy things happen to Scully in her home,” notes X-Files set decorator Shirley Inget. ”I would move.”

Office’s Mess

”Mulder’s a bit of a pack rat,” says set decorator Shirley Inget. She and her staff comb through science magazines and used-book stores, gathering cast-off documents from police departments and UFO societies, to fill his office with ”anything that’s weird, wacky, and a little bit puzzling.”

House of Scully

”Scully is shabby chic,” posits Inget. Yet the apartment looks none too shabby. ”And not very chic, either,” the set decorator allows. Anderson seems hard-pressed to pick something she’d want in her own home: ”I like the plant mister,” she says. ”Everything else is a little too Ikea for me. Personally, I like a lot of the furniture in Mulder’s apartment better.” In one episode (featuring cockroaches), Scully sat in this room reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s. ”It was a goof on David,” says Anderson: Tiffany’s figured in a question Duchovny got wrong when he appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy!

House of Mulder

”It seems about the right economic height for Mulder,” Duchovny says. ”He probably makes about $30,000 a year.” The actor’s one personal touch is the basketball: He likes to shoot hoops. What interests X-Philes most about the room? Says Duchovny: ”They’re big on the couch where Mulder looks at porn.”

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