David Duchovny is sitting on the porch of a farmhouse about an hour north of Vancouver, squinting into the wintry afternoon sun. It's late in the process of shooting The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and he's pondering the choice Agent Mulder had to make in the series finale: perfect happiness or the truth? ''I don't think of Mulder as a happy guy,'' Duchovny says. ''He's like a quest hero. That's why I like him so much. He just doesn't give up.'' Costar Gillian Anderson passes by on her way to the set. ''It's all lies!'' she yells out with a grin.
Hey, it might be after all, ''deceive, inveigle, obfuscate'' was one of the TV show's taglines during its nine-season run on Fox. But six years after the series ended (and a decade since the last film), the new movie promises to be a lot more straightforward than fans of the show might expect. Written by series creator Chris Carter and his right-hand man Frank Spotnitz and stemming from an idea they'd been kicking around for years it's a stand-alone story, set in the winter of 2008, that Carter describes as a ''suspense thriller'' akin to the monster-of-the-week episodes from the show's early days. Gone is the occasionally baffling mythology Black oil! Ice picks! Bees! that came to define the series. The new film is designed to satisfy the faithful while courting a new generation of fans raised on Saw and Hostel. ''Oh, it's a great relief to not have to reweave all the strands of the narrative,'' says Spotnitz. ''We just wanted to tell a really good story with characters that we love.''
Details about said story are tough to come by, but here's what we do know. Billy Connolly plays a priest of what Spotnitz calls ''dubious character,'' and Xzibit and Amanda Peet show up as two new FBI agents. Carter says we can also expect ''an appearance or appearances'' from X-Files alums (though, tragically, the Stupendous Yappi will not be involved). Other clues? They'll tackle the subject of Mulder and Scully's extraordinary son, William, who was given up for adoption. And Carter a former skeptic who's got more ''faith that it's not all meaningless'' these days cites influences like string theory and the work of religious scholar Huston Smith, saying a phrase from one of Smith's lectures actually ''became'' the movie. (Fans, start Googling.)
NEXT PAGE: ''Mulder and Scully have not been frozen in ice. They've been leading some kind of life, together or apart, in some parallel dimension. They've had experiences that we'll never know about.''