PASADENA, Calif. — The truth is still out there for “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter and stars David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) and Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully).
The trio met with reporters at the recent Television Critics Association winter press tour here to talk about the six-episode reboot of the show, premiering Sunday at 10 p.m. on Fox, before settling into its regular time slot of Monday at 8 p.m.
Joined by new addition Joel McHale (“Community”), the group was in great spirits talking and joking about the original series and what’s to come in the revival.
Carter remembered the first time he watched Duchovny and Anderson work together and how the chemistry was immediate. “They just both lit up, and it was the same ever since. It’s one of those things that you can’t manufacture. It just happens, and we got very, very lucky.”
Q. There’s been talk for years about the show being revived. At what point did it become a reality for you?
Duchovny: Probably when I got that first script and started to think about, “How are we going to do this? What do we do? What do we do now?”
Anderson: I did a Comic-Con right before I was about to start shooting, and it wasn’t until I sat on a panel in front of the audience and the degree of enthusiasm that there was for it, and then the theme music played, and it was the first time I think in my life of “The X-Files” that I completely got what it might be like for an audience to sit on a couch, if they ever do that anymore, in front of their television and hear that tune again for the first time when a first episode is going to be aired. I got excited with them, and it occurred to me that I was starting shooting on Monday.
Q. The show has always been anthology, with the tone changing from week to week, from dark to comedic, from heavy mythology episodes to stand-alone installments. With this reboot does it feel like you change tone more than usual? Why do you like to do that?
Carter: Well, that was the signature of the show. We would do a mythology episode, and then you could do a monster-of-the-week episode, and then you can do a comedy episode and go right back to a mythology episode, and it worked. We did that always in the run of the original series, but in this case, there are only six episodes, so we had to do it in a much shorter arc.
Q. In retrospect, was six episodes the right number of episodes, or did you find yourself wishing you had 10 or 24?
Carter: Not 24, certainly. Originally we were supposed to do eight, and then that got scaled back because of schedules. Six was very doable, and I think that six actually works. You get a variety of episodes still. You get two strong mythology episodes, which I always felt were the spine of the show.
Q. If Fox came back and said, “We want more of these,” would eight be your preference?
Carter: I’m waiting for Fox to come back and say we want more of these, and we’ll talk about how many.
Duchovny: Think of it as a bento box of “X-Files.”
Q. There are two mythology episodes in these six. Why did you choose a mythology episode this time as opposed to, say, a monster-of-the-week show?
Carter: It’s really a reentry into a series that hasn’t been on the air for 13 years, so I think you needed to get back into the characters’ lives, their quest, where they are, where the relationship is, where their professional lives are. That was a definitely a mythology episode, part of the saga, if you will.
Duchovny: I think you had to pay homage to the mythology that we’ve done, as well as introduce the new twist that Chris has created for this series. So I think you had to honor the fans as well as introducing people into it who don’t know anything about it.
McHale: And everyone dies in the sixth, so.
Q. Joel, what was your relationship with the original series? Were you a fan of it? And if so, was it surreal to be cast in this?
McHale: Yes, I was a huge fan. And this is like winning an auction item where you get to be on “The X-Files.” We went to the premiere two nights ago, and every time I walked into a scene my wife burst out laughing because of the acting and because it was the show that before we were married, we would sit on a couch and watch because everything came together for both of us in it. So when Chris made the mistake of casting me, believe me, I could not believe it.
Q. David, did you ever think you would see a day where the Mulders of the world, the conspiracy theorists, would not be underground; they would be almost mainstream and have so many forums to present their opinions?
Duchovny: That sounds like a nightmare. Is that happening? That is kind of the world we live in, isn’t it? It has its good points and its bad points, I guess. There’s so much information available, and there’s not a real vetting process of what’s true and what’s false. I’m much more old school, pre-Google. We had an encyclopedia in my house. That’s kind of where I got my information. I think I still live in that world.
Carter: I think it’s reflected in the show. This is a feature of the Internet and a product of the Internet, all of these conspiracies. So there’s over 500 conspiracy sites on the Internet. Nothing is underground anymore. Everything is out in the open.
Q. Often for actors who star in classic shows, there’s a period where they feel typecast by the role. Was there ever a period like that for either of you, where you had to accept that for a lot of fans, you will always be Mulder and Scully?
Anderson: I think it took a good decade for me to suddenly start thinking of it as the gift that it was and to properly appreciate the opportunity that I had and also the how fortunate I was to play such a great iconic character in a show that was iconic in and of itself, and for such a long time and that it could have been something else. It could have been something that I hated or had bad reviews. So I was very lucky.
Duchovny: It took a while to recognize it as the gift that it is, and that’s why we’re able to come back now. It acted as a spur to me to go out and actually do more work, to keep expanding myself as an artist or as whatever I am. So it was both a gift and a spur to want to not settle after it was done. So on both levels, it’s been a gift in that way.
Q. Chris, what does it mean to you to have created this iconic series?
Carter: It’s still surreal to me that I’m sitting up here 24 years later. This has been nearly half my life, spanning three decades of my life. And there’s a sense of pride in just that we actually survived it. It was an opportunity to really do what we were interested in. But I think, coming back, we have an opportunity here, and it is a chance to make good on a promise, that we are coming back for a reason. We are coming back to do really fresh, original material, not a victory lap. This is an opportunity to show people that the show has more life to it.Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman