The Austin Chronicle

Interview with Dean Haglund

April 16, 1999, Arts

Along with the nebbishy, hormonal riot known as Frohike and the studied, bearded, nonchalant Byers, Dean Haglund's Langley is one third of the goofball, paranoid, "everything's-a-conspiracy" trio known as the Lone Gunmen on Fox's increasingly comedic pop-culture tsunami The X-Files. It has not always been thus. Haglund got his start in the fertile fields of the Canadian stand-up comedy circuit, And he has appeared in shows ranging from Sliders to the Texas-lensed LonesomeDove, as well as a recent cameo in Payback. I spoke with Haglund during his Austin visit for BS4. -- Marc Savlov

Austin Chronicle:How did you get into stand-up comedy, or did the acting come first?

Dean Haglund: The two were simultaneous. I was the class clown in school and I was also a child actor -- not on television, but in the theatre. So I started out taking acting classes and then when I was old enough to get in bars, I began doing stand-up at amateur nights. Then I turned around and used the money I was making from stand-up to pay for the acting classes and put myself through university and theatre training. The two worked together.

AC:Is there a big market for stand-up in Canada?

DH: It's huge. You'd never know it, but you can work intensely for a long period of time, say, six to eight years, and not get, as they say, "sucked into the machine." You can develop your own thing at your own pace. Then, when you're totally ripe, you get your Jim Carreys and your Tom Greens and all of these great comics seeming to appear out of nowhere. They've been studying their craft all along, though.

AC:When did you split Canada for L.A.?

DH: I moved to L.A. in '95 and kept a place thereand one in Vancouver because doing stand-up it was cheaper to fly out of L.A. than Vancouver, hard as that may be to believe.

AC:Is that move to L.A. an inherent part of the deal these days? If you really want to crack your career wide open, can you do it outside Cali?

DH: It's a financial consideration, I'll say that. Otherwise, I think it's just a matter of choice. I've got friends who could come and have been invited, but who choose to stay in Canada. You can have a long-term career and do very well in Canada and never be hugely famous or stuff like that. Or you can be sucked into a show like The X-Files and have the opportunity to go to L.A. They're both great, really, especially since L.A. has changed so much for the better in the last few years.

AC:How so?

DH: For a long time, L.A. was considered to be this cultural wasteland, but now you have the galleries, the Getty Center, the artists -- even two years ago you'd go to Starbucks and there would be these unemployed losers whining over their coffee, and now it's like, "Sorry, man, I gotta go design my Web page." It's the same guys, except now everybody's working, everybody's at least trying to be grounded in reality.

AC:Do you still perform comedy in L.A.?

DH: It's hard to do it on a regular basis just because of The X-Files' scheduling. For example, right now I'm on David Duchovny Baby-Watch. He's about to have a baby with his wife, and if my pager goes off I have to get to the set to shoot the scenes that he's not in. We're all sort of surrogate expectant fathers at the moment.

AC:Speaking of The X-Files, how did you end up getting cast in that?

DH: I auditioned the very first season when the show was at the bottom of the ratings. The Gunmen were just supposed to be this one-off, one-day thing, so it was no big deal. My agent was like, "Yeah, I got you this audition for this show about FBI agents chasing aliens. I don't think it'll do very well, but you might as well go for it." I hadn't seen the show at that point.

AC:When did it hit you that the show was going to become this big cultural watershed?

DH: You know, you don't really catch on for a long time. I think there was a moment when we were shooting another episode and [director] David Nutter came up to the three of us while we were sneaking some craft services and he showed us a copy of a magazine that said the Lone Gunmen were the best part of the show. We couldn't believe it.

AC:Do you have any input into the creation of the myth, or is that all dictated by [series creator] Chris Carter?

DH: Not really. His mind works in mysterious ways, though we do talk about things we've heard at conventions and stuff.

AC: I noticed you have your own Web site []. How much like Langley are you?

DH: I do all my own coding and I answer all my own e-mail for the site, but I'm not as paranoid as Langley is. I hear stuff from fans -- they stop me on the street and tell me things. I've had military officials come up and tell me weird stories and so on, but I'm not that paranoid. The beauty of any conspiracy theory is that because it can't be proved, that just makes it more "real." It's not a question of believing or not believing, really, it's more a question of just accepting a series of probabilities that lead to an undeniable conclusion. Do you accept the undeniable conclusion or can you think of another reason that explains why all these events lead up to whatever, you know what I mean?

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