The franchise's creator and director of the upcoming movie ''I Want to Believe'' reveals the extreme measures he'll employ to keep plot details secure, what he might do with a third movie, and how he responds when people ask him what he does for a living
The writer from EW wants to believe that he can get X-Files creator Chris Carter to spill the beans about The X-Files: I Want To Believe, which arrives in theatres on July 25. But Carter proves to be just as tight-lipped on plot details now as he will be a couple of hours later when he is grilled by fans at New York Comic Con. Carter — who directed the X-Files movie sequel — is, however, happy to chat about everything else X-Files-related, from the possibility of a third big-screen Mulder and Scully adventure to how leaking spoilers could have the real FBI knocking on your door.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, if you could just tell me what happens in the movie then I’ll be on my way.
CHRIS CARTER: I’m going to just tell you. No, I can’t, because we want to preserve the element of surprise. It’s more fun. And, in this day and age when you can’t preserve it, it makes it even more fun when it’s preserved.
I will hit you with one direct question. Just today an X-Files website announced that the film was about women being abducted. This was based on the apparent leaking of the synopsis of the film’s novelization. Do you have any comment on that?
Let me say that there have been a number of ”leaks” during the making of the movie. And know that we went into this very early on knowing that, like any good enterprise, we would need to manage information via propaganda or imagery. And we considered all that as we moved forward.
Fair enough. Is it harder to keep things under wraps now than when you made the first movie 10 years ago?
It was hard [with] the first movie. We printed the script on red paper so people couldn’t Xerox it. But I think, the first week of filming, a synopsis of the script — a very detailed one — was in the National Enquirer. So it was difficult then, but it’s even more difficult now with all the dedicated spoiler sites.
What was the most extreme security measure you took this time around?
We only showed [the script] to certain crew members. And those crew members had to go into a room where the script was taken out of a locked cabinet, and then we had video cameras trained on them so they couldn’t use their phone or take pictures of anything.
Are you serious?
Yep. Now, maybe it was an overly dramatic measure. But I think it gave people an idea about how determined we were to keep it a secret. And, as Hutch Parker [20th Century Fox vice chairman] told me, it’s not your crew members anyway who leak the story. It’s when they leave it sitting at the coffee table at home and they forget that other people might have a reason to pick it up and read it.
Plus, I hear Duchovny’s a terrible squealer.
[Laughs] I’ll tell you an interesting anecdote. I think it was probably the 9th season of The X-Files, and we were at the lot at 20th Century Fox. I look up one day and I see men in suits in my office. It was the Secret Service. They were investigating a leak of Minority Report that came out of our offices. Someone had used a phone at night to call [TV and movie website] Ain’t It Cool. And the Secret Service was called in because it is a federal crime: trade secrets or intellectual property theft. They were going after the person. I told that story to Hutch Parker and he said, ”Oh, those are the old days. Now, we really prosecute people.”
NEXT PAGE: ”Sean Penn came up to me at a party and told me about an episode we had done in season 6. He said, ‘That’s the best X-Files you guys have ever done.’ I’m thinking, what’s he doing watching the show?”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What hopes do you have for the franchise? Would you like to make another film?
CHRIS CARTER: I know we would. But we’re not under the illusion that it’s a given. We’ve got to perform here in order to give it another day.
According to X-Files mythology, the final stage of the alien invasion is planned to start in December 2012…
Well, we didn’t think that one up. That is actually part of the literature. It is a Mayan date.
Is that something you might address in a third film?
I think we’d like to revisit that whole storyline.
The last couple of seasons of the X-Files TV show received a fairly mixed reaction. Are you envious that the creators of Lost have been given the freedom to say, long ahead of time, when the series will conclude?
No. I’ve got no regrets now over the work that we did during that time. And while it’s always good to know how you’re going to end, and when you’re going to end, I think it can forestall a more adventurous approach which might lead down very interesting paths. One of the best parts of doing the series is that it starts to go places you hadn’t anticipated.
Who’s the most surprising X-Files fan you’ve come across?
Sean Penn came up to me one night at a party and told me about an episode we had done in season 6. He said, ”That’s the best X-Files you guys have ever done.” I’m thinking, what’s he doing watching the show?
People must always be hassling you for information about the X-Files. When you’re sitting next to someone on a plane, and they ask you what you do, what do you say?
I tell them. But, oftentimes, you get, ”Oh, The X-Files. I never really watched that show.
What did you do between the end of the TV show and starting to work on the second movie?
Kicking my drug habit. [Laughs]
Seriously, were you just counting the money?
I wasn’t. I tell people it was 10 years of output followed by five years of input. I read a lot. I traveled a lot. I became a pilot.
Is that easy?
It’s easy if you’re a reckless person.