We talk to one of The X-Files' most notorious monsters, Adrian Hughes - aka Sherman Peacock.
Home is, by far, the most controversial episode of The X-Files. Why do you think it freaked so many people out?
One theory is that it's because of the incest. I believe that it was Kim Manners, the director of the episode, who said, "No, no. It's the monster under the bed." And I think he's right. The moment when Scully walks into the room and there's a POV from the mother under the bed, it's primally terrifying. I have a cat who likes to run under the bed and attack my feet. That's the same principal - the monster under the bed!
What do you remember most about shooting the episode?
The moment that really curdled my blood involved Karin Konoval, the woman who played our mother. A few of us, including Gillian Anderson, were standing outside one of the studios and she was in there recording wild sounds for her screeching under the bed. It was for the scene where she's pulled out, a torso on a skateboard. And she was yelling at the top of her lungs, so loud that even though we were behind two big metal doors, which are supposed to block out sound, we could still hear her. All of us got goosebumps: not enjoyable ones, but ones where it's like, "Jesus, this is creepy!"
There was a lot of giggling. The masks we wore were pretty creepy and we laughed a lot, looking at each other.
The episode is set in a small town in Pennsylvania. Where were you really?
Either in the studio, or on a private piece of property just off Highway 99. I have seen that particular farmhouse used in I don't know how many TV shows. They just repaint it. I've driven past it many times since and always get a bit of a thrill when I do. If you look to your left as you're headed south on 99 you can see it, just sitting there all by itself.
There's a lot of grim stuff going on: incest, murder, mutilation. Was it an intense shoot?
Not really. There was a lot of giggling. The masks we wore were pretty creepy and we laughed a lot, looking at each other. I remember being exhausted: we were on set for 13 or 14 hours a day. We formed bonds... I'm still friends with the make-up team to this day.
Mulder and Scully distract you guys by releasing pigs. Was it fun to chase them around?
It was more fun watching Gillian talking to them. My understanding was that she had just watched Babe the week before, and it came to her in a moment of inspiration to go, "Baa ram ewe!" when coaxing the pigs. I thought that was pretty hilarious.
And how about your big death scene?
That was a huge deal. Getting to be taken out by a Montagnard crossbow, that was really exciting to do. Maybe it was also exciting because I was being paid double. I got stunt pay to be padded up and throw myself against the door.
We've been living by our wits for generations. There's a sense that we're beasts, almost more animal than human.
What makes the Peacock brothers memorable monsters?
There's just something low-down and preternaturally cunning about us. We've been living by our wits for generations. There's a sense that we're beasts, almost more animal than human.
What did you make of the outraged reaction from some viewers?
After the shoot, Mitch Pileggi and I got talking at a house party, and he told me that Fox wouldn't re-run the episode because it had scared too many people. There's no way of knowing for sure what kept it off the air. I remember that in the original cut the baby was still crying as we buried it in the ground - not as we were filming, but as an added sound effect - and the censors made them take that out. I also believe that when Scully is doing the autopsy on it, it has dirt in its lungs, which indicates that it was buried alive. I get that people might be put out by that - it is pretty horrible. But it is only television.
And finally, when did you last hear the Peacock brothers' theme song, Johnny Mathis' Wonderful! Wonderful!?
The song in the car? To be honest, I don't even remember it! When I was cutting together my showreel, I looked at a copy of Home, but there was no dialogue in it so I ended up taking it off my reel. It's fun, but it's not really acting. I'm just walking around with an encephalitic forehead.