When you go to the movies in the first decade or two of the 21st century, chances are you will be attending a movie featuring or starring an actor who got one of their earliest roles on the classic 1990s science fiction series on Fox called “The X-Files.” You might just be surprised to discover how many actors besides Oscar-winning Octavia Spencer and the nyuk-nyukking Curly of Will Sasso got big boosts from “The X-Files.”
Jack Black and Giovanni Ribiso
Ribiso is actually the star of this story, but Jack Black makes a strong impression. The two play young best friends with Ribiso having great and scary powers to control electricity. The episode is titled “D.P.O.’ and it aired early in Season 3. Ribisi underplays and Jack Black overplays to create a dynamic duo of teenage angst that eventually goes all Carrie White.
Truth be told, by the time John Hawkes landed a part on “The X-Files” he had already been in the business for about fifteen years and had a busload of small credits on his resume. What sets the episode of “Milagro” apart from those earlier roles is that Hawkes created one of the most memorable one-shot characters that ever came up against Mulder and Scully. He gets pushed around by Mulder (a law enforcement officer beating up a guy not yet proven guilty; yeah, and Joan Crawford was strict with her kids, so what else is new?) and makes out with Scully. Name another character of whom you can say the same?
Not long after achieving cult status in “Bottle Rocket” Luke Wilson was cast as a small town sheriff in an episode of “The X-Files” titled “Bad Blood.” What is so amazingly wonderful about this episode is that we get to see the character Wilson portrays not as he really is, but thought the highly prejudicial lenses of Mulder and Scully. Yet another terrific example of postmodernist “X-Files” construction gives Wilson the chance to play the sheriff who is not necessarily everything he appears to be with delicate shadings that don’t quite allow him to play two different characters. In fact, his job is far more difficult and he pulls it off with aplomb.
About a year before the Disney Channel came calling, Shia LaBeouf played a central role in an “X-Files” episode titled “The Goldberg Variation.” Bedridden for most of the episode, LaBeouf played a sick little kid who was lucky enough to be looked out for by the luckiest man on earth. If you don’t particularly like LaBeouf, the episode is still worth watching for the part where he gets sickest and turns a sickening shade of yellow.