Wed, Jul 30, 2008 - Page 14 News List

The truth is still out there

It has taken 10 years for 'The X-Files' to finally return to the big screen. Director Chris Carter reveals what in the heavens took him so long

By John Patterson  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

X-Files creator Chris Carter might be the most zenned-out guy you’ll ever meet. An enviably youthful-looking 52-year-old, he is as lean and tanned as a surfer — he has been one all his life, which he admits explains a lot — with cobalt-blue eyes blazing under a full head of well-coiffed, absolutely white hair. This look, combined with his even-toned, soft-spoken articulacy, reminds me at times of an adult version of one of the preternaturally calm and self-assured alien children in Village of the Damned (though Carter probably can’t murder you using his mind).

Carter has been away a long time. He took five years off after the extraordinarily successful and influential nine-year run of The X-Files and its various outgrowths and spin-offs. He vanished so thoroughly that one might be forgiven for suspecting he’d been abducted by the aliens The X-Files was so obsessed with. He wasn’t, of course, and now he’s back with a new X-Files movie, subtitled I Want to Believe. It is the successor to X-Files: Fight the Future, which appeared as a part of the ongoing series narrative between its fifth and sixth seasons in 1998.

So what has he been doing in this long interim? “I took five years off because I ended the show when I was 45, and I felt that those 10 years involved nothing but output and no real input. So why not take this opportunity to do all the things I would probably kick myself for never taking the time to do? I’m not an empire builder.”

You still built one!

“Well, I guess what I mean is, not by temperament — I’m not an egomaniac and I needed to step away from Hollywood. In those five years, I did some things that I’ve brought back to my approach. I became a pilot. I have a Cessna Caravan. I climbed some mountains, which I’d always wanted to do, and which helped in this movie because it taught me about extreme environments — a valuable lesson. I took some great surfing trips. I became a music student, because I’d never had the chance to do that seriously. I was doing piano for a while, but then I stopped that and took three years of drum lessons, much to my wife’s chagrin.”

He also immersed himself in some cutting-edge hard science, thanks to some guidance — “a lifeline,” Carter calls it — from his brother Craig, who is a professor of materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I did a fellowship at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. I had this opportunity to be around a lot of really smart people, all thinking about things that are completely imaginary — quantum physics, subatomic constructs, and so on. A lot of the scientists were atheists, and I thought that was interesting because they were talking about some of the most beautiful ideas I’ve ever encountered. I mean, truly poetic. And I thought exactly the opposite way from the way they saw it. I saw it as science trying to explain God, while they see it as science trying to explain truth. While those things might be one and the same, I think that this movie is in some ways informed by those ideas: science and faith.”

Where does Chris Carter stand in that debate?

“I would call myself a spiritual person. I used to call myself a non-religious person looking for a religious experience. I’d say that sort of defines me, though in these five years, I’ve come closer to faith than I’ve ever been.”

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