In today's Sci-Fi Blast From The Past, former Monk star Tony Shalhoub looks back at his guest-starring role on The X-Files.
Directors of mystery and horror films often use shadows as a method of injecting fear into their audience. These shadows are usually followed by a much more terrifying and solid menace. What if a person's shadow was to become more of a threat than the person who casts it? This is what Doctor Chester Banton discovers when an experiment in dark matter turns his shadow into a form of instant death.
“He's basically a good man,” says actor Tony Shalhoub, who guest-stars as Banton in The X-Files episode Soft Light. “Banton's not evil or a killer. It's his scientific inquisitiveness about this dark matter that gets the better of him. Suddenly he's in way over his head and he tries to figure out how he can reverse the process or, ultimately, do away with himself so that he doesn't harm any more people. He's someone who's too bright and too curious and it's this curiosity that becomes his downfall.”
Shalhoub, who costars as Antonio Scarpacci in the successful NBC comedy series Wings, was not that familiar with The X-Files before being offered a part on the program. “Because of my schedule I don't really watch that much television. They sent me the script, I read it and liked the sound of it. When I was growing up I was a big fan of The Twilight Zone, and The X-Files reminded me of that.
“When I mentioned to people that I was going up to Vancouver [British Columbia, Canada] to shoot an episode of the series the response was unbelievable. Obviously, others were much more familiar with the show than I was, and I soon found out that it was a bit of a cult hit, which made the prospect of appearing in it even more appealing.”
One of the things that enticed the actor to accept the role of Banton was that the character was so different from the one he portrays each week on Wings. “The first thing that attracts me to a part is if it's a contrast to what I'm currently working on, and, just as importantly, is it going to stretch me as an actor? My character on The X-Files is about as far away from Antonio as I could get, so, that was kind of a nice thing.”
Shalhoub chuckles when asked about his most vivid memory from working on the series. “One of the castmembers kept singing Me and My Shadow,” he answers. “I really enjoyed working with both David Duchovny [FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder] and Gillian Anderson [FBI Special Agent Dana Scully]. They are consummate professionals and terrific people. David is very funny. He's a closet comedian, really, with a very dry and wonderful wit.
“What struck me most about working on the program was the schedule they keep on these hour-long shows. Basically, the show is just the two of them and the guest-stars, but, compared to the half-hour show I do, their schedule is much more gruelling. It's like shooting a feature in eight days. Sometimes they overlap and start shooting the next episode before they finish the first. It's incredible. They put in at least twice the amount of hours as I do on Wings. Obviously, they've developed a very successful and top-flight series out of The X-Files and it's a tribute to their skill.
“I was also surprised at the amount of location shooting they do,” he adds. “Ninety-nine percent of our filming on Wingsis done on a soundstage, while most of their material is shot on location in and around Vancouver. It's an ideal city because it gives producers so many options. They can make-believe that they're anywhere in the country. A half-hour out of the city you can be anywhere you need to be - the deep forest, the mountains, the ocean, in a modern city, or even an old small town.”
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