The X-Files Episode That The Studio Tried Three Times To Shut Down

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Go through the list of stars that appeared on The X-Files before they became household names, and you’ll find an amazing assortment that includes Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Jack Black, Octavia Spencer, Ryan Reynolds, Shia LaBeouf, and countless others. But at one point, Fox executives vetoed casting horror icon Brad Dourif as serial killer Luther Lee Boggs in the Season 1 episode, “Beyond the Sea.”

The studio claimed that the voice of Chucky was too expensive, but they didn’t know how determined creator Chris Carter was.

Chris Carter Fought For Brad Dourif’s Casting

“Beyond the Sea” was the twelfth episode of Season 1, written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, the same pair who would go on to write “Home,” and “One Breath” among many others, and the accomplished pair envisioned Brad Dourif as the central villain. Chris Carter agreed, and after Fox rejected them the first time, Carter called up the president of Fox Entertainment on Thanksgiving to make his pitch.

As Carter explained in a later interview, “This is the guy we need for this episode.’ There was a money issue. He was the person who signed off on that. I pulled him away from the Thanksgiving table and he said, ‘Just cast him,’ and that was it. The timing to call him was perfect, though it was inadvertent.” While he won that battle, the episode still faced an uphill battle before it went into production, and it escalated Carter’s initial conflicts with the network.

A Screaming Match With The Studio Executives

In an attempt to give Gillian Anderson a spotlight episode as Dana Scully, “Beyond the Sea” was written to pit the FBI Agent against serial killer Luther Lee Boggs in a battle of wits. If that description sounds similar to Silence of the Lambs, you’re not alone; Fox executives thought the same thing and tried to stop the episode from getting made.

In a later interview, Carter admits that there was a 45-minute screaming fight in the Fox office as he went to bat for his team, insisting that “These guys believe in this episode. I believe in this episode, we’ve got to do this episode.”

One Of The Best Episodes Of The Series

At the end of the day, Carter won, and “Beyond the Sea” would go on to become a Season 1 standout episode, not just because of the work of Gillian Anderson but also because of Brad Dourif making the most of his single episode to create a memorable villain in Luther Lee Boggs. Claiming to be psychic, the killer dangled clues to a kidnapping in front of Scully and Mulder (David Duchovny), and in a twist at the time, it was Scully who believed in his powers.

It was a deliberate move by the writers to frame Scully as the believer in Boggs’ psychic abilities, and that became the thrust of the episode, to prove that on The X-Files, characters could grow and change, which meant Scully would not always be the skeptic.

A Memorable Villain Worth The Battle

Another choice they made early on for “Beyond the Sea” was to have Boggs be the complete opposite of the cool, calm portrayal of Anthony Hopkins‘ Hannibal Lecter. Brad Dourif’s killer was manic, slightly unhinged, and incredibly high-strung, but the veteran actor managed to walk the line between being comical and menacing.

The X-Files Had To Fight For Its Survivial

Given the success of The X-Files, it’s odd now to hear that the studio thought, according to reports, an extra $5,000 for Brad Dourif (which brought his payday up to $15,000 for the episode) was too much for the award-winning actor that the writers and showrunner all wanted.

After Dana Scully became a pop culture icon, it’s also hard to remember that being viewed as a Silence of the Lambs knock-off was a bad thing, but “Beyond the Sea” was different enough, with an iconic performance, to become one of the best episodes of the show’s entire run. This was a battle worth fighting, and we’re glad Chris Carter won this time.