There's no show quite like The X-Files. Known as the longest-running sci-fi series in TV history, The X-Files not only amassed millions of die-hard fans over the years but also won countless awards and graced the covers of many magazines. Long story short, it was and remains a cultural phenomenon.
Even though the show has appeared seemingly everywhere over the past two decades (remember when The Simpsons aired their own X-Files episode?), there's still plenty of behind-the-scenes intel you may not already know. From two cast members getting hitched off-screen to over 100 actors auditioning for this one role, scroll ahead for some facts you (probably) didn't know about The X-Files.
Scully's name was inspired by a famous sports broadcaster
The show's writers didn't just pull Dana Scully's name out of thin air; instead, a famous Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster named Vin Scully inspired the character's name. In fact, the iconic sports announcer can be heard calling a game in a 1999 episode titled "The Unnatural."
This X-Files actor met his wife while on-set
Mitch Pileggi, who plays FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, met his wife while shooting on set—she was Agent Scully's body double and later played Skinner's secretary. "When I saw her, I was smitten immediately," Pileggi told the Dallas Morning News in 2016. "I asked David, 'Who's that?' He said, 'That's Arlene. Everybody knows Arlene.' I was like, 'Well, I don't.' And I swear I said, 'I'm going to marry her.'"
This popular television show was one of its inspirations
Twin Peaks, an earlier show created by David Lynch, was one of the sci-fi series' many inspirations. It was also influenced by The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, among others.
Smoking Man wasn't supposed to be a recurring character
Perhaps surprisingly, the Smoking Man was never supposed to be a recurring character but instead just an extra in the show's pilot episode.
The actor who portrayed him also hadn't smoked a cigarette in two decades
And even more surprisingly, the actor who played the Smoking Man, William B. Davis, was not a smoker in real life. In fact, the Canadian actor hadn't had a cigarette in 20 years before taking on the role. As the story goes, Davis smoked real tobacco cigarettes for the first two episodes before switching to herbal ones. He did this for health reasons.
The network wanted a different actress to play Agent Scully
It's hard to imagine anyone else playing Agent Dana Scully, but during the casting process, the network wanted someone with more experience or a "taller, blonder" actress to play the famous FBI agent.
This X-Files actress mostly only did theater prior to starring in the show
Before filming The X-Files, Gillian Anderson, who took on the role of Agent Dana Scully, only acted on stage. In 1995, she shared during an interview with TV Guide that X-Files was only her second time working in front of the camera.
This X-Files actor attended Princeton and Yale
David Duchovny, also known as Agent Fox Mulder, has quite the resume. Before acting, he received a B.A. in English Literature from Princeton University and an M.A. from Yale University.
Over 100 actors auditioned to play Agent Doggett
Dozens and dozens of actors tried out to play Agent John Doggett, with Terminator actor Robert Patrick being awarded the role. Network executives hoped that introducing new characters to the show would help boost ratings.
The actor who played Agent Doggett was also on this top-rated 90s series
Patrick also had a small role in the highly successful 1990s HBO series, The Sopranos. In this show, Patrick plays sports store owner David Scatino, a friend of Tony's who has a serious gambling problem.
The show was filmed in Canada for the first five seasons
Although it was supposed to be set around the Washington, D.C. area, X-Files was primarily shot in Vancouver for its first five seasons before eventually moving to Los Angeles.
Its theme song was inspired by The Smiths
The show's iconic whistle sound in its theme song was influenced by The Smiths' 1985 song, "How Soon Is Now?".
This Breaking Bad actor was a guest star
Years before his groundbreaking role as Walter White in the incredibly successful series Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston guest starred in an X-Files episode.
And this Super Mario voice actor also appeared in an episode
A 26-year-old Jack Black appeared in the sci-fi series in 1995 as an arcade owner named "Zero." Giovanni Ribisi also guest starred in the episode as Black's best friend.
It was supposed to get an animated spinoff
In 2020, the series creator, Chris Carter, shared that he'd like to create an animated spinoff series of the cult classic. Although no details have been confirmed, Disney now owns the show's rights.
One of its lead actors also has a band
Duchovny can do it all. Besides being an actor and author (he's written a handful of novels throughout the years), he also has a band.
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