Bret Watson
February 09, 1996 AT 12:00 PM EST

As the body counts rise and the FBI opens new X-Files, few figures have emerged from the shadows to claim a permanent place beside Agents Mulder and Scully. Consider the fate of Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin), Mulder’s high-level government informant, who was gunned down in the first season’s finale. But here are seven X-Files actors whose lively performances transformed one-shot gigs and small roles into crucial supporting parts — characters who have managed to keep one step ahead of liver-eating psychopaths, fat-sucking cannibals, and giant, sewer-dwelling Flukemen. For now.

MITCH PILEGGI, 43, FBI assistant director Walter Skinner.

Background: Born in Portland, Ore., raised in L.A., Austin, Tex., and Turkey, Pileggi first toiled as an overseas military contractor, surviving two coups in Turkey and travels through the Middle East. ”Iran was fun until the revolution — that will always put a damper on things.” Began acting in 1980; roles have included Pontius Pilate in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, guest spots on TV’s Dallas and Models Inc., and psychotic killer Horace Pinker in Wes Craven’s movie Shocker. ”After playing so many bad guys, I like playing the guy who has moral values.”

Inspiration for Skinner: His father, Vito, a defense contractor. ”It wasn’t something I did intentionally. My family pointed it out.”

How he’s like Skinner: ”I can get grumpy.”

How he’s not: ”I laugh a lot more. People usually comment, ‘You’re really a nice guy!’ I tell them, ‘Skinner’s a nice guy too, he’s just got a tough job.”’

Startling revelation: According to set regulars, Pileggi, not Duchovny, is the sex symbol off camera. Indeed, Pileggi has to worry about the lipstick traces left by female fans who want to kiss the top of his bald head.

Favorite episode: ”Paper Clip,” in which Skinner tells Cigarette Smoking Man to ”Kiss my ass.”

Off duty: The divorced and unattached Pileggi plays guitar, in-line skates, and golfs with Nicholas Lea (Krycek).

Is the truth out there? ”I believe in aliens, but I don’t think they’re among us.”

What he’d like for Skinner: ”Sex!”

NICHOLAS LEA, 33, Agent Alex Krycek, onetime double-agent partner of Mulder (Internet nickname: Ratboy).

Background: The native of Vancouver had a recurring role as ”a cop with a bad attitude” on The Commish. Appeared as the hospitalized victim of a sex-changing killer in the early X-Files episode ”Genderbender.”

Inspiration for Krycek: Books on the FBI and double agents.

How he’s like Krycek: ”I want to be good at what I do.” How he’s not: ”Hopefully, I have a little more heart.” And, in real life, he dated actress Melinda McGraw, who played Scully’s sister Melissa; on the show he helped kill her.

Startling revelation: Was the lead singer in an alternative rock band called Beau Monde for five years.

Favorite episode: ”Duane Barry” (about a man who claims to have been abducted by aliens), even though, says Lea, ”my tie was in the episode more than I was.”

Off duty: Draws, runs, practices guitar.

Is the truth out there?

”Definitely. But finding it is the most interesting part. I don’t know how I feel about werewolves or vampires.”

What he’d like for Krycek: ”Beautiful women. And I’d like to [learn] why he does what he does. I’d like to see some revealing of his heart.”

STEVEN WILLIAMS, 47, X, mysterious, high-level government informant to Mulder.

Background: The Memphis-raised actor played Captain Fuller on 21 Jump Street. Also appeared in the feature films Cooley High, The Blues Brothers, and Twilight Zone: The Movie.

Inspiration for X: ”I loved Avery Brooks’ character Hawk on Spenser: For Hire. X is very similar, only more subdued.”

How he’s like X: ”I’m sort of removed. People have said that I’m cold. Non-caring.”

How he’s not: ”By the same token, I’m a very warm, gregarious character. But we don’t know that X isn’t like that in his secret life.”

Startling revelations: Was a boxer during a two-year stint in the Army, then modeled briefly in Chicago.

Favorite episodes: ”One Breath,” where X ”blows this guy away without blinking an eye,” and ”End Game,” when X and Skinner literally butt heads.

Off duty: ”I had a family life for a little while there, then that sort of fell apart. So I’m asking myself, What the hell are you doing in your spare time, Steven?”

Is the truth out there? ”Definitely. It’s ridiculous to think we are the only people in the universe.”

What he’d like for X: ”I’m dying for a confrontation with Cigarette Man. But I don’t want the public to learn too much about X — once he’s no longer interesting, you’ve got to get rid of him.”

WILLIAM B. DAVIS, 58, Cigarette Smoking Man (Internet nickname: Cancer Man), the malevolent government figure who thwarts Agents Mulder and Scully.

Background: The soft-spoken Toronto native has appeared on TV in Stephen King’s It and MacGyver, and in several movies. ”I tended to do the nice kindly doctors [as in Look Who’s Talking] and the gentle grandfathers [as in the cable-TV movie Circumstances Unknown].”

Inspiration for Cigarette Man: ”When I put on the suit, take out the cigarette, it touches something that I don’t use in my real life. I was surprised it was there.”

How he’s like Cigarette Man: His character’s distinctive manner of holding a cigarette — between thumb and forefinger — is the way Davis used to smoke.

How he’s not: Davis quit smoking 17 years ago, so on camera he’s using clove cigarettes. ”The most challenging part is tongue burns because you’ve done 82 takes of lighting a cigarette.”

Startling revelation: Davis is a Canadian national waterskiing champion. ”When I found that out,” says X-Files creator Chris Carter, ”I thought of a great scene. Mulder and Scully track down Cigarette Man to the beach. As they wade into the water, he glides up.”

Favorite episodes: ”Paper Clip” and ”One Breath” (in which his character says to Mulder, ”I’ve watched Presidents die”).

Off duty: Davis is divorced with two children. Serves as director and teacher at Vancouver’s William Davis Centre for Actors’ Study.

Is the truth out there? ”I don’t fear ghosts and aliens, but I do fear the people who believe that there’s a conspiracy.”

What he’d like for Cigarette Man: He and Scully knock off Mulder, get married, and live happily ever after.

TOM BRAIDWOOD, 47, Frohike, a Lone Gunman (trio of nerds who publish a newsletter on government conspiracies).

Background: Theatrical actor before he began working in TV production on such series as 21 Jump Street. The Vancouver native also serves as assistant director on X-Files.

Inspiration for Frohike: Braidwood asked writers Glen Morgan and James Wong, ”Is Frohike just a foil or an intelligent foil? Is he a dirty old man or more than that?” Mostly he focused on Frohike’s first impression of Scully: ”’She’s hot.’ It encapsulated the whole character.”

How he’s like Frohike: ”I’ve got a good sense of humor.”

How he’s not: ”I like pretty and intelligent women, but I have enormous respect for them, whereas Frohike just lusts after them. His mouth is bigger than his mind.”

Startling revelation: Enjoys gardening.

Favorite episodes: ”Dod Kalm” (the agents age rapidly on a stranded tanker) and ”Duane Barry.”

Off duty: Married with two daughters, he writes scripts and watches videos in his spare time.

Is the truth out there? ”Something’s out there. Whether we’ve met it or not, I don’t know.”

What he’d like for Frohike: ”It would be great to have the Lone Gunmen in the field helping Mulder, then bungle it.” (In fact, this will happen in an upcoming episode.)

DEAN HAGLUND, 30, Lone Gunman Langly.

Background: Born and bred in Winnipeg, Haglund performs regularly as a stand-up, as a member of the improv group Vancouver TheaterSports, and is a veteran of many TV series and movies: ”I sold drugs to Lorenzo Lamas in [HBO’s upcoming] Mask of Death.” In an episode of Lonesome Dove: The Series, ”I was beaten and hanged before the first commercial.”

Inspiration for Langly: Computer-nerd friends and grunge-rocker types.

How he’s like Langly: ”I own a computer, I listen to the Ramones, the long blond hair is for real.”

How he’s not: ”I’m not as paranoid and I don’t wear glasses.”

Startling revelation: “I’m Canadian and I can’t skate.”

Favorite episodes: “War of the Coprophages” (killer cockroaches) and “E.B.E.” (introduced the Lone Gunmen).

Off duty: Married, practices yoga, can do splits.

Is the truth out there? Regarding his character’s conspiracy theories he says, ”They’re all true — but only to certain people.”

What he’d like for Langly: ”A job at the Pentagon.”

BRUCE HARWOOD, 32, Lone Gunman Byers.

Background: The British Columbian has appeared on 21 Jump Street, Wiseguy, and MacGyver, on which he had a recurring role as environmental expert Willis.

Inspiration for Byers: Linguist/activist Noam Chomsky: ”I applaud Chomsky’s willingness to take a stand,” says Harwood.

How he’s like Byers: ”I think of Byers as a university professor. I’m a pretty bookish person.”

How he’s not: ”He’s too weird, intense, paranoid. And I don’t wear suits.”

Startling revelation: Trained as a figure skater in his youth.

Favorite episodes: “Humbug,” “War of the Coprophages.”

Off duty: Reads, skis; married to a high school teacher.

Is the truth out there? ”I believe there’s life on other planets, but I don’t believe that UFOs are saucers from another world.”

What he’d like for Byers: ”I’d like to get him to chase an alien.”

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