Published on May 13th, 2008 | by gareth0
Spencer Maybee Talks X-Files: I Want To Believe
Got some HOT news for you’re here first. I was able to speak with rising actor Spencer Maybee about his work on the pending X-Files movie as well as his experiences as an actor. I want to thank Spencer and Sara for organizing this interview for Skewed and Reviewed.
GVK: What drew you to acting and who are your greatest influences?
SM: I kind of grew up acting, putting on absurdist, plotless, action/adventure/slapstick comedies in my aunt’s basement when I was six, to playing the lead in a middle school musical opposite the girl I had a huge crush on. She was way cooler than me, but in the play it was her who had a crush on me, so I always kind of liked how acting took reality and flipped it on its head, making me cool when I very clearly (and objectively) was not.
As far as influences go, it really was Tom Cruise who made me decide that I really wanted to be an actor, because before seeing him in The Color of Money, Top Gun, and Days of Thunder, I had wanted to be the best pool player in the world, the most amazing fighter pilot ever to buzz the tower, and the most fearless race car driver on the circuit. I was really torn – I mean I also wanted to be a cop, firefighter, revolutionary, Navy SEAL, and astronaut – but Tom made it all clear to me.
That planted the seed, but I didn’t really get that you could make a living at it until I walked onto my first film set one cold November afternoon in Winnipeg.
If by influences you mean actors I admire and look to for inspiration, I’d have to say Gary Oldman, George Clooney, Daniel Day Lewis, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, and Cate Blanchett all for different reasons. Some because of the way they disappear into their work, some because of the projects they choose, and some because of the risks they take.
GVK: What was your big break as an actor?
SM: I don’t know about “big break,” but a real highlight was actually my first ever professional gig in an MOW called On Thin Ice. I played a crystal meth cook who gets in an argument with a single mom cum drug dealer over missing product. The gig itself was cool, but what made it really wild was that Diane Keaton played the single mom. I was totally nervous and kept screwing up this one piece of business and she just stayed in character and went off book, reacting to my clumsiness and getting totally impatient. Then I found myself telling her to keep her shirt on. It wasn’t in the script, but it ended up in the show. That was a real highlight.
Another big highlight for me was working with Chris Carter on the recent X-Files movie. Actually, the thrill was working with everyone: Gillian Anderson, Adam Godley, Carrie Ruscheinsky, who played my wife, and the young Marco, who played my son. It was a great pleasure to work on the kind of project with the kind of director that allows for real emotional spaces to be cultivated in each scene.
GVK: Were you a fan of the X-Files series and if so, what were your favorite episodes?
SM: I really liked the show and the episodes I saw kind of creeped me out, which I liked, but I couldn’t really follow series TV because growing up, I played a lot of hockey and didn’t really get to see shows that were on primetime.
GVK: What can you tell us about the part you play in the new X-Files film and about the story and setting of the film?
SM: Unfortunately not much because like all the actors on the show I signed a confidentiality agreement and, the truth is… out there. No just kidding. The truth is, I really don’t know that much, because I only ever saw the pages of the script that I was in, and we had to return everything once we shot it. I’ve never before seen script security like they had on the X-Files sequel. It was kind of like being in an episode of the show.
GVK: What sort of background were you given on your character and how was it working with David and Gillian?
SM: I wasn’t given much background on my character, but Chris Carter attended the callbacks, and Carrie and I actually did a callback together, which kind of worked out like a rehearsal. I didn’t have any scenes with David Duchovny, but I had the pleasure and thrill of working with Gillian Anderson. She was a paragon of professionalism; kind, friendly and really grounded in her character and in the scene. It was a pleasure working with her because, as an actor, you’re working with the other actors to create a world that only exists if you believe in it. It’s really inspiring to work with someone who brings to a scene so much “faith,” if you will, in the world of the story. It’s even more inspiring when you’re surrounded by other actors who are doing the same – Adam Godley, Carrie Ruscheinsky, and young Marco. I really think that this kind of environment really only thrives under a director who encourages and cultivates this belief and makes space for his actors to get into the time and space of the moment.
GVK: What is Chris Carter like as a director and how does he differ from others you have worked with?
SM: Chris was really the first director that I’ve worked with who’s been able to make that space for the actors to get into the moment, to wiggle around in it and find some different internal spaces, and he’s the first director I’ve worked with who really seemed to value that. I think how he benefits from that is that he gets a variety of subtle, honest emotional reactions, which I really believe translate to the screen. I guess we’ll be able to put that theory to the test when the movie comes out.
To be fair to most of the other directors I’ve worked with, I think Chris had a bigger budget than all of them combined.
GVK: What can you tell the readers about making “The Arc of Truth” and are their more Stargate outings in your future?
SM: Stargate: The Arc of Truth was extremely cool to work on. A big part of that was because I got to realize a childhood fantasy and play with guns. Rob Fournier, the armourer, was really thorough in my weapons training on the H&K G36 assault rifle, which gave me lots to talk about with my brother, who is a Warrant Officer in the Queen’s York Rangers.
Amanda Tapping was wicked fun to work with and I’d be thrilled to work on Stargate again.
GVK: Would you describe yourself as a fan of sci fi and horror since many of your roles have been set in the genre? If so, what are some of your favorite shows and films?
SM: I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan of any specific genre, because when it’s done poorly, no matter what the genre, it’s just bad. I used to be a huge horror fan and really enjoyed them growing up. When I became aware of some of the conventions endemic to certain genres I began to get more picky about what I liked. I still love a good horror film and a good sci-fi film, but my pickiness about good storytelling is trump suit. Sci-fi films I liked, well, Blade Runner is way up there. I recently really enjoyed Sunshine, and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, though I don’t know if those qualify as sci-fi. It’s been a while since I saw a good horror film that stood up both as a scary film and a consistent story. I was really disappointed with Saw because of some character behaviour I found just way too unbelievable. I really liked Exorcist 3 and, laugh all you want, Prince of Darkness.
GVK: What were some of your fondest memories working on the film, and what were some of your biggest challenges?
SM: On X-Files, I can’t really pick one thing that stands out as a fond memory, though the whole experience is a really fond and fresh memory. It’ll stay with me for a long while. On the Arc of Truth, I have to say, standing in a narrow corridor with four guys, putting double-taps down range and then opening up with the G36 while a belt-fed SAW and a couple of automatic shotguns go off by my ear… Yeah, that’s a fond one for sure.
GVK: Moving forward, what can the readers look forward to watching you in next?
SM: Out of genre, I play the brother of a murder victim with a secret in the next Don Strachey murder mystery, Ice Blues, which will air on Here! In the states and OutTV in Canada. I’m not sure about the date. Other than that, it’s X-Files, baby. July 25th. This summer.