During the TCA 2014 Summer Tour, Indiewire had the pleasure of interviewing “X-Files” creator Chris Carter about his upcoming Amazon series “The After,” as well as the legacy of his most famous creation. We were saving said interview for the premiere of “The After,” but after news broke that the show had been scrapped, we still wanted to share the man’s gracious nature with readers. Thus, please find below an condensed transcript of our conversation.
I set myself a goal for this interview, which was to ask you a question you’ve never been asked before. I know, it’s tough, but I think I have a shot, which is: I wanted to ask you about helicopters. Because I read that you fly helicopters, and in your work you use helicopters a lot, you blow up helicopters a lot, and so… What’s up with helicopters?
I was a journalism student, and the week before I actually started journalism school, I was a crew member on a sailboat, and off the side of that sailboat, in the Los Angeles Harbor, I witnessed a helicopter crash.
It was terrifying, and I took a picture of it, and that picture was published in the LA Times. And I thought, I’m doing what I should be doing. I’m a journalist. A photojournalist. But you know, I felt like it was an omen. And so, I’ll have to say that helicopters have figured into my life — hopefully not crashing helicopters anymore — but yes, they’ve been a factor of my existence.
Have you ever been asked that before?
No — you’re good!
I did it! Okay, the rest of this is just going to be, “What was it like working on ‘The X-Files’…?”
But I am curious, because at the TCAs, one thing I’ve been fascinated by, is, you know, we got Glen Morgan [producer of BBC America’s “Intruders”] here earlier this week, we had Vince Gilligan [“Breaking Bad”] here yesterday–
[Morgan] and I went to the Dodgers game together Thursday night.
Oh, how’d they do?
They won that night. Clayton Kershaw pitched a complete game, but his streak of scoreless innings was broken by Glen’s team, which is the Padres.
Oh, okay… So the fascinating thing is, it’s been over 20 years, and still, in every session that these people have been in, “The X-Files” keeps coming up. From your perspective, is that daunting or imposing, knowing that it has such an influence, even today?
I’m so honored. It’s a complete honor to actually be still talking about it, because it’s so rare in life. I mean, there’s just so much television, and life moves so fast, and we churn through things. So, it’s unexpected, but the reason for it — and I can tell you this unequivocally, and this is not smoke — is that people like Glen Morgan are the reason that I’m sitting here, actually answering that question. Those people, who came to work on the show — who have gone off to do all these good things — helped make the show what it became.
Twice, I think, during [“The After”] panel today, you mentioned the idea of resisting labels. What is it about a label that worries you?
Sometimes labels are a hook that you get hung on, that can oversimplify what you’re doing and make people look at it — you know, when people are looking at it, and they go “Oh, that’s science fiction — you are a science fiction writer.” And I resist that sometimes, because in the beginning, I didn’t think of “The X-Files” as science fiction.
And I still think, “Okay, I’ll accept the label,” but I always thought it was more — you know, Steven Spielberg called “Close Encounters” “speculative science.” I think it’s much more speculative science than science fiction, so that’s why I resist it: It’s because I know the kind of storytelling I like.