Photo courtesy of gadd1960.
By now, many of you have figured out two things: 1) I love The X-Files and 2) the new movie comes out this weekend. There are characters, actors and storytellers that stay with you, sometimes inexplicably, for years. For me, this ranks as one of my most successful love affairs.
But it has been fraught with danger, as well. And no, I don’t just mean Diana Fowley.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I started doing extra work—not because I had any great desire to be an actress (I’ve always been a hobby-ist at best), but because it’s Los Angeles, and the opportunity to see production from the inside has always fascinated me.
Over the years, I had the opportunity to work on The X-Files on a number of occasions. One of the best days I had on that set was for the episode “all things”. Why was it great? Many reasons. I was friends with a PA, and he took me around the standing sets. I sat on Mulder’s couch. I wandered into Mulder’s bedroom and sat on his bed wondering why he had a brandy snifter full of condoms if the guy was never getting any. Then I read the script sides for the shooting day. Ah… it became much clearer. Plus, Gillian Anderson was directing, and watching her go through the process (working with Kim Manners and directing David Duchovny, in particular) was fascinating.
But despite the joys of the day (which included working two scenes with David), it was also the site of another of those pesky regrets—another road not taken.
Because it was a small shoot, I didn’t go back to the holding area with the other extras when my first scene was finished. I stayed out of the way and watched. But because I was there when Gillian decided she needed another body to cross the screen behind David, I was a logical choice because I was nearby. I was placed and waiting. I couldn’t have been more than 10 feet away from him.
It was a scene where Gillian was supposed to grab his shoulder and turn him to face her. But she was behind the camera, and her stand-in had left to go to the bathroom. So Gillian yelled out, “can someone stand with him?” And I didn’t move because, of course, she didn’t mean me. Why would she mean me? I figured I was a nobody, so I should definitely not do it. Sets are pretty regimented and extras don’t have a lot of leeway generally. That overwhelming feeling of “I’ll get into trouble” kept me from moving. Then she yelled out “Really anybody”. But before I could force myself to move, a guy on the crew moved into place.
While it became a very funny moment -- the crew guy turned David and then the two of them started pretending to be very deeply in love—it’s a missed opportunity that has never really left my mind. It seems like such a little thing, but… No matter how many other times I worked the show, I kept kicking myself for not taking the chance presented to me.
I think the memory of this regret propelled me from the moment they announced that this second movie was going into production. I know it was a powerful motivator in my getting on that plane in February to go to WonderCon. If the adventure was going to be costly or time consuming, I started asking myself the question—will I regret not taking this chance.
I can’t say that I’ve regretted going to any of these events. I’ve met amazing people, and had such fun, again. Yes, I realize it is all fiction, etc – but it has just been fun. Remember fun? I’m not sure I remember often enough.
It was because of one of these chance encounters at the Paley Festival X-Files event that I probably had one of the most surreal days of my life.
As you know, I finally got my priorities straight and went to the fan event outside of The X-Files premiere. As the pictures and videos show, I got into the first 500 fans. I had sunburn. I was tired. I probably smelled. But I was so much fun to just be with these people. Apparently the video I had taken in the morning of three of the line campers had made the rounds because during the fan event, Frank Spotnitz actually mentioned seeing it. The news spread, and mentions of it made the LA Times and even on to the TV Guide channel premiere coverage (the reporter actually asked Duchovny about it).
And that would have been enough. I would have been okay with the just having those fan moments. I didn’t have tickets to the premiere. I tried bidding on a charity auction, and while for 2 shining minutes I held those tickets, I eventually lost them. I was resigned to it.
And then I got this email: “I have an extra ticket to the premiere—I don’t suppose you want to go”. It was from a girl I met and interviewed at Paley. We had stayed in touch. And still I hesitated. There were complications. There was a juggling act, financial issues and inconvenience—not to mention the whole “night”, “crowd” and “stress” trifecta.
Then I remembered regret. I remembered what it felt like to not take the chance. And while I wouldn’t be able to say I was definitely going to that premiere until I was actually in the seat, I took a deep breath and said “yes”.
I ran from the fan event to a parking garage where I changed clothing (if I ever become famous for any reason, I have no doubt that the parking garage footage will be on TMZ). And then I walked the red carpet in my red dress with my frazzled hair and dazed expression.
I think I still have trouble believing it. After all of these months of waiting, I was there. I watched that movie with Chris and Frank and David and Gillian and the hundreds of other people involved in making something I loved. Honestly, I think they got almost a bigger kick out of our reactions than seeing the movie themselves. At one point, there was a lot of “WHAT???” yelling going on, and then people starting laughing at us. Duchovny even mentioned our reactions in an interview he gave the next day.
It felt like coming home. There were so many people I had met from each of the previous events that also got in, and I’m not sure any of us could claim to be unaffected by our luck. We laughed. We cheered. We gasped. We may have cried (a little, and very elegantly, of course).
I know what you are thinking: “dude, get a life, it’s a movie”. But The X-Files was never just about the show or a movie. It has always been an experience. The stories have always been about seeing life in a different way. Maybe I finally took some of that to heart. And while I may always look upon that day on set with a twinge of regret, I’ll also have an amazing few months of experiences and an evening that still doesn’t seem real.