Confessions of a Conspiracy Geek
An Interview with X-Files Actor-Turned UFO Enthusiast, Dean Haglund
On May 19th, 2002, a finely strung bow was tightly wrapped around nine (although it is now ten) seasons of what is arguably one of the greatest science fiction shows to ever hit the television airwaves. With a cult-following spinoff, two major motion pictures, and a handful of Emmys, The X-Files became a favorite amongst believers and non-believers alike. Special Agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were introduced to many characters throughout the series, but none as memorable as the basement dwelling trio known as the Lone Gunmen. A short and stout hacker with the hots for Scully, a suit-wearing conservative with a heart of gold, and a poster child for metal bands everywhere, the Lone Gunmen quickly made a one- time appearance into something the fans just couldn’t get enough of. And for one of the gunmen, a character’s keen interest in conspiracies and the UFO phenomenon began to spill over into real life.
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Dean Haglund’s passion for theater struck at an early age. He appreciated the ability of actors creating a world on a bare stage, and at the age eighteen, left for Vancouver to pursue an acting career himself. After years of training and building his resume, he finally nabbed a role on a new drama produced by Fox studios and written by Chris Carter. He became the blonde-haired government watchdog who claimed to have had breakfast with the man who shot JFK.
The trio became so popular that they scored their own spin-off series. Although short- lived, The Lone Gunmen soon became a cult favorite among X-Files fans and conspiracy theorists alike. And the rest, as they say, was history. I recently spoke with Haglund and he was more than happy to catch up with me about his experiences on set, his new UFO- based documentary, and the possibility of a third X-Files movie.
RS: What sort of research did you do to create the character of Langly?
DH: At first it was just the dictionary because the writers used a lot of big words. Then I met with various hackers and conspiracy researchers, like Jordan Maxwell. Still to this day, I meet with some of them to keep current on all the latest in the conspiracy world.
RS: In the same vein, how much influence did you and the others have in the writing of your characters in both shows?
DH: As I got to know the writers, they would incorporate my various mannerisms and speech patterns into the script, which was pretty cool to see.
RS: Had you had any interest in the UFO phenomenon before you began work on The X-Files?
DH: I’d have to say somewhat, having never seen anything nor knew of anyone who did. I certainly heard about it from my brother, who was really into UFOs growing up.
RS: What would you consider your favorite episodes (featured in and not featured) with The X-Files?
DH: My favorite - not featured in - is Humbug. I was a fan of the Jim Rose Freak Circus, so I was thrilled to see them on the show. My favorite - featured in - is Unusual Suspects, because I got to play D & D for money. Also, it was great getting back-story for all our characters.
RS: Speaking of characters, it’s been said that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are the complete opposites of theirs, in respect to their beliefs in the paranormal. Is this true?
DH: To a degree, but they would listen to opposite opinions. They weren't rigid in their beliefs.
RS: The writers used many inside references to actual UFO cases and people in the field throughout the series. What do you think was the most interesting use of this technique?
DH: Well, there’s no specific line of dialogue I can point to, but I was always impressed with the bookshelves of all the writers. Typically, a TV writer will have books on “How to write a screenplay” or "Best 100 movies of all time”, but these guys would have “Ancient religious rituals of Mithra” or “Quantum mechanics made easy.” Likewise, the research that went into every episode was very far beyond the scope of the average show for the time. Now, you see that more frequently in shows like House or NCIS where they pack a lot of info into every episode. But The X-Files was the first to put this in practice and it really paid off.
RS: What are your thoughts about Steven Spielberg or even Chris Carter being hired to disclose small truths to the public about the E.T. reality?
DH: I have heard that. Or that the opposite is also true - that by making it "popular" entertainment, it is easy to write off anyone who may have had legitimate experiences as just watching "too much X-Files". Either way, it seems like it gives a lot of power to the artists, whose job it is to connect to a collective zeitgeist anyway. It is more likely for an official to cover up as much as they can and filmmakers to run with the limited information that is out there and make it more interesting than it may be in reality.
RS: Is it true that Chris Carter was briefed on certain cases to help create some of his story lines?
DH: I have had FBI agents come up to me from time to time and be very impressed by how close the show was to numerous cases that were known in the Bureau. Also, there were some FBI and forensic consultants on the show from time to time to help with some details.
RS: The pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen centered around a plot to crash a plane into the World Trade Center. This was some time before 9/11. Do you believe this to be an extreme coincidence or perhaps something a bit more controlled?
DH: I never made the connection until late in the afternoon of 9/11 when I got a call from someone in production pointing out that it was our plot being played out on TV. It was very freaky, and then for the media to say "Nowhere, in books, on TV, had this ever been thought of..." even though our show aired a few months before. Again, an artist connecting to a collective unconscious is the more probable of explanations.
RS: How much of your interest in the UFO phenomenon continued after both shows were over?
DH: It certainly continued and has even grown. I’m currently working on a documentary entitled, The Truth is Out There. I had a camera crew follow me for a year as we went from convention to convention trying to uncover the simple question, "What is truth? And how do we know when we’ve found it?" The answers were quite surprising. There is also a lot of great insight into the UFO field and the minds of various researchers.
RS: What would you consider your most interesting conspiracy or case that you have researched?
DH: Some that really interest me include: 1.) The real reason for the Gulf war that does not include oil, but instead, a fourth-dimensional war of biblical proportions. 2.) AMA blocking Dr. Royal Rife and his work in curing cancer. 3.) Nazi Anti-gravity technology and the possibility that they had a moon base.
RS: Who would you consider the major contributors to the UFO field? Have you been able to meet any of them?
DH: Dr. Roger Leir has removed twenty-one alleged alien implants from various people over the years. He started as a complete skeptic and has approached all of his cases from a medical standpoint that is quite refreshing. I say they are alleged implants because the one time a lab analyzed the material removed from the patient, it came back saying "of non-terrestrial origin" and then later called to change their findings. He has published a few books on this and I definitely consider him a leader in the field.
RS: What do you feel was the most rewarding thing you took away from doing The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen, and also with your work at conventions and festivals?
DH: I am thankful to be given the opportunity to perform live at a lot of these events, where I use my training as an improviser and mesh it with my experiences on the shows, and create "An Improvised X-Files Episode!". I have performed this all around the world, and have even been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival three times with it.
RS: What other realms of the paranormal strike your interest or would you like to research more?
DH: Edgar Mitchell's Noetic Science Institute is pretty interesting. The idea of another dimensional plane that we can react to with our other senses and have it measured to some degree is something I would like to learn more about.
RS: Could you give us a bit more of a taste of what to expect with the documentary?
DH: The four-hour rough cut I saw was really cool, in that it showed a lot of the people you think you may know in a brand new light. I have known many of them for years and a lot of them have seen my act and know that I am funny. So that ultimately, the idea is that you leave after watching this film and realize that searching for the truth can be fun, even if the outcome is not what you would expect.
RS: And the remaining question on everyone’s mind... should we be expecting a third X-Files movie?
DH: That would be great. But I think the economics of movie making have changed so much, that if a movie doesn't make Avatar dollars in its first weekend worldwide, then no studio can afford to risk it on another. If it does happen, it might have to be an indie, which I personally feel would be even cooler.
As of the conduction of this interview, the tenth mini-season of The X-Files came and went, leaving fans elated to have briefly seen The Lone Gunmen again. Perhaps we will finally get answers to the huge cliffhanger we were left with in the season ten closer. Perhaps not. But either way, we were so happy to follow our favorite blonde haired, Ramones t-shirt-wearing hacker known as Richard “Ringo” Langly. But something tells us this isn't the last time we'll see this hacker on the silver or small screen. Hacking is totally in again. Thanks Russia!
About the author
Ryan Sprague is the author of 'Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon'. He is also a UFO journalist, TV personality, and a podcaster. More at www.somewhereintheskies.com