X-Files archive: Mitch Pileggi interview

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This interview was originally published in 2013.

Played: Walter Skinner Number of X-Files episodes: 82

When did you last see an episode?

It's been a while. About two years ago my daughter started watching the DVDs, so I sat down with her and watched a few. There were a lot of episodes I wasn't involved in, so I used to enjoy watching those ones as a fan. The ones I really liked tended to be the ones I wasn't in!

Do you have a favourite monster?

Tooms was pretty creepy. It was my first episode and they did a great job with him. But my favourites have to be the Peacock brothers in Home. Those guys and their mother hold a special place in my heart. I thought it was brilliant.

Mitch Pileggi

Do you remember any of your lines?

"This is where you pucker up and kiss my ass!" - that one I'll never forget. Rob Bowman always says it to me. And "I'm standing on the line that you keep crossing." That line right there is Skinner in a nutshell. He's a hardass, and that's what I brought into my audition when I read for the part. I was in kind of a bad mood and it was what they wanted for the character. So I was very fortunate that I was in that state of mind on the day!

Did you come up with a backstory?

I'm actually quite lazy, so a lot of times when people say, "What were you thinking in this scene?" I have to be honest and confess that I was just trying to remember my lines.

When people say, "What were you thinking in this scene?" I have to confess that I was just trying to remember my lines.

Chris had created quite a backstory, with Skinner's military background and his brush with the supernatural when he was in Vietnam. I would throw in a few things on the fly every once in a while, to flesh out what I was doing or saying. I'm actually quite lazy, so a lot of times when people say, "What were you thinking in this scene?" I have to be honest and confess that I was just trying to remember my lines. Skinner was a workaholic, who didn't have too much of a dating life going on, except when he got involved with Amanda Tapping in that one episode (Avatar, in Season 3). Every time I see Amanda, I embarrass her about it. That was pretty much it in terms of romance for old Walter. When the Lone Gunmen got a spin-off, I said, "Hey, Chris, when are we spinning off Skinner?" He said, "What's it going to be? Skinner in his apartment eating noodles?" He was right on that one. Though maybe Skinner turns into my character on Sons Of Anarchy on the weekends: he rides motorcycles and becomes a white supremacist.

Are you a Shipper or a No-Romo?*

I actually did a panel with Gillian and Robert Patrick in Calgary a few months ago, and revealed that Skinner always had a huge crush on Scully. That's why he was always pissed off with Mulder all the time, because he was jealous. Gill said, "What? I didn't know that!" And I went, "Yeah, baby. I was crushing on you." It's funny, because I married her photo double. It just kind of happened - we were all on Christmas hiatus and going to Hawaii, and as we were flying over I asked David to be my best man. It was all pretty low-key. Chris Carter and his wife were there, and Lance Henriksen and his wife.

Mitch Pileggi

What's the strangest encounter you've had with a fan?

I'm nervous to get into that! There have been some that have been a little invasive. There were situations where Fox legal department had to contact certain fans who were sending correspondence and tell them to back off. We actually had to move one time because I was getting creepy fan-mail to the house. You know, there's a lot of different personalities out there and most of them are great people, but there's always going to be the odd one that kind of creeps you out. I'm in Dallas right now, but there's still a lot of X-Files enthusiasm, even here. Mostly these days, though, it's Sons Of Anarchy fans - and those guys are pretty intense!

What's the best thing you kept from the set?

I got a book signed by Stephen King, which is now in storage wrapped in plastic. My wife had already bought the book for me and then Chris and Frank Spotnitz sent me another copy. I said, "Thanks, but I've already got it." They said, "Open it." And it had a very sweet message from Mr. King inside. I was very flattered because I'm a huge, huge fan. I also have a brass bulldog which sat on Skinner's desk - it's in my office in LA. It's funny because in one of the last episodes of Dallas they built me a bedroom. I walked in and saw that sitting on the chest of drawers was almost an identical bulldog. The set-dec guys said, "We just saw it and it felt right for you." It was so wild. We're still shooting, so until it's over I can't take it home to put next to the other dog.

Skinner always had a huge crush on Scully.

Mulder's obsession is aliens. What's yours?

Game Of Thrones. I've read them all. When I was in Calgary doing a convention I had the great opportunity of having lunch with Peter Dinklage. It was a real treat; I really liked him a lot. And Jason Mamoa's a good friend of mine. So I have a few connections to people on the series, but the books I love. I can't stop reading once I pick a new one up.

When did you last cross paths with someone from the show?

Gillian and Robert [Patrick] in Calgary, a few months ago. It's always nice when you run into someone, because at the time we were seeing each other's faces every day, and over nine seasons it gets a bit much. Now we just hang out for a while, swap some stories and go our separate ways. Robert is a great dude and Gill is a lot of fun too. David I haven't seen in forever.

Sum up the conspiracy storyline in 30 seconds or less.

Bees! How's that? I'm still trying to figure out the damn bees.

*Shippers want Mulder and Scully to hook up. No-Romos don't.