Behind the 'X-Files' Scenes
Though The X-Files is probably the most extreme prime-time expression of a singular vision (Chris Carter’s sovereignty makes Steven Bochco look like an absentee landlord), it also, ironically, boasts the most conspicuously innovative behind-the-scenes ensemble on the tube — 235 people, to be exact, in Vancouver and L.A.
The devil’s in the details, as it were, and we can thank these oft-neglected folk for the canny, who-is-that-guy casting; the sneakily affecting soundtrack; the richest, lushest visuals on TV; and feature-film-quality special effects, at a fraction of the cost. How do they do it? That’s worthy of an X-File all its own.
R.W. (BOB) GOODWIN
Credits: Hooperman, Life Goes On, Mancuso FBI.
Job description: Carter calls Goodwin ”the boss when I’m not there.” In addition to exec-producing every post-pilot episode, he has directed all the season finales and the last two season premieres. ”I’m the one who’s handed the script by Carter and has to somehow turn it into film,” says Goodwin, who normally devotes seven days to prep and eight days to shoot any given episode (and those are 16-hour days, ten and a half months a year).
How does he describe the growth of the show? ”We’ve just reached further and further. As good as the first season’s shows are, they’re much simpler. All ‘Ice’ really had in it in terms of effects were a few shots with worms crawling under the necks of people. We’ve just finished an episode in which you see dozens of worms going all through people’s bodies.”
Proudest moment: For Goodwin, The X-Files‘ technical apex occurred in the Arctic Circle showdown between Mulder and the alien bounty hunter (”Endgame”). ”We built a full-size replica of a nuclear sub conning tower that was on hydraulic lifts, all geared up with steam and smoke effects to show the workings of it as it submerged into 160 tons of ice and snow. We had to refrigerate the stage for a week. People just don’t do that in TV.” By contrast, he quips, ”my biggest worry when I did Life Goes On was whether we were going to shoot in the living room or the kitchen.”
Favorite episode: ”The Erlenmeyer Flask.”
Credits: In the Heat of the Night, Young Riders, Married … With Children.
Job description: Millikan joined the creative team after the pilot and made his mark with the casting of regulars Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat) and Steven Williams (X). The L.A.-based Millikan has no hand in the selection of the shows’ often stellar child actors (which comes through the Vancouver office), but he can claim responsibility for what is arguably the most inspired guest-star casting in TV.
What he looks for: Millikan specializes in risk, choosing — more often than not — to go with relative unknowns: ”I look for people you won’t recognize because I think it adds to the show’s believability. Because even though everything on The X-Files is out there, you have to leave the viewers going ‘Wow, you know, maybe that could happen,”’ he says. ”When I bring actors in, I explain that it’s a very laid-back [yet] intense-energy show. You want someone who’s got a dark side, but it’s not everything to them — Giovanni Robissi [the lightning-wielding teen of ”D.P.O.”] is a perfect example of that.”
Proudest moments: Hiring Mitch Pileggi (Skinner). But his coup de grâce — Peter Boyle for ”Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” — almost didn’t happen: He persevered despite opposition from Carter. ”Chris thought Peter might be a little too obviously crazy. But I knew he could control it, and that he’s got a very sympathetic side.” Boyle went on to snag a 1996 Emmy for Guest Actor in a Drama Series.
Wish list: Millikan claims he’s gotten everybody he ever wanted, although plenty of people are knocking on his door, including Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg.
Favorite episode: ”Beyond the Sea.”