• Bryan Cranston in a Vince Gilligan-penned episode of ‘The X-Files’. (SBS)Source: SBS
The iconic television show was a breeding ground for the gifted and almost famous.
Jeremy Cassar

19 Mar 2020 - 8:35 AM  UPDATED 19 Mar 2020 - 8:35 AM

For almost a decade, the original run of The X-Files ensnared audiences and critics alike with its spin on the monster-of-the-week formula and ongoing mysteries surrounding its two iconic leads. David Duchovny’s Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Scully were almost instantly etched into the televisual hall of fame, and for good reason. SBS On Demand viewers take heed, as on Thursday, 19 March, every episode from 11 seasons of The X-Files will be available to stream for free in all its remastered glory.

If you’re watching the show for the first time, it won’t be long until you realise that it boasts one of the longest lists of notable guest stars in the history of television. We’re here to whet your appetite with some of the most memorable. 

Felicity Huffman

Which episode was she in? ‘Ice’ (Season 1, Episode 8)

What happened? Until Felicity Huffman’s breakthrough role in Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night (1998–2000), she was putting in the hard yards in a series of one-episode roles on the small screen. One such role came in The X-Files’ premiere season, as toxicologist Dr Nancy Da Silva.

‘Ice’ is one of the show’s handful of ‘bug’ episodes – involving some kind of parasitic anomaly that may or may not be supernatural. In this case, Huffman’s Da Silva helps Mulder and Scully fight a deadly parasite that could very well have infected them or her, and her third-act performance was early proof that this was an actress that wasn’t going away any time soon. 

Watch Season 1, Episode 8, 'Ice' at SBS On Demand

Bradley Whitford 

Which episode was he in? ‘Firewalker’ (Season 2, Episode 9)

What happened? Prior to creeping us out in The Handmaid’s Tale (2017–present) and before his Emmy Award-winning performance in The West Wing (1999–2006) or memorable turn on Get Out (2017), Bradley Whitford played a volcanologist infected by a strange silicon-based life form.

As Daniel Trepkos, Whitford perfectly plays the descent into madness, gunning down his co-workers for fear of further contamination before our pair of hero agents enter the scene. It’s a complex story that highlights not only the show’s deft ability to create entire worlds for a single, standalone episode, but also Whitford’s enviable and eventually celebrated acting chops. 

Watch Season 2, Episode 9, 'Firewalker' at SBS On Demand

Lily Tomlin

Which episode was she in? ‘How the Ghosts Stole Christmas’ (Season 6, Episode 6)

What happened? What better way to underline The X-Files’ eventual embracing of a more comedic tone than to cast one of Tinseltown’s pre-eminent funny-women, Lily Tomlin. Scully and Mulder visit a house allegedly so haunted by an age-old murder-suicide that it’s caused many a pair of lovers to meet the same fate. Tomlin and fellow legend Ed Asner play a pair of ghosts who spook Mulder and Scully to confront their inter-personal issues, despite not (yet…?) being lovers. It was a delightful way for the writers to continually play with the desire to see the agents get it on. 

Watch Season 6, Episode 6, 'How the Ghosts Stole Christmas' at SBS On Demand

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul

Which episodes were they in? ‘Drive’ (Season 6, Episode 2) and ‘Lord of the Flies’ (Season 9, Episode 5)

What happened? When you take a close look at both sides of the screen of The X-Files, the making of Breaking Bad (2008–2013) makes that much more sense. The strongest and most regular connection is through Vince Gilligan, creator and showrunner of the latter and writer, producer and eventually executive producer of the former.

The man who would eventually play Walter White appeared in the Gilligan-scribed ‘Drive’ – a potboiler of an episode that sees Cranston claiming he needs to be whisked away from impending sound waves to prevent his head from exploding. As for Aaron Paul, he pops up as the host of a Jackass-type show in an episode written by Breaking Bad staff writer Thomas Schnauz.  Dean Norris AKA Hank Schrader, Raymond Cruz AKA Tuco Salamanca and Michael Bowen AKA Uncle Jack Welker also appeared on both shows. 

Watch Season 6, Episode 2, 'Drive' at SBS On Demand

Watch Season 9, Episode 5, 'Lord of the Flies' at SBS On Demand

Ryan Reynolds

Which episode was he in? ‘Syzygy’ (Season 3, Episode 13)

What happened? Before Ryan Reynolds was one of Hollywood’s biggest tickets, he popped up as a jock who meets a grisly fate at the alleged hands of two fellow female high-school students. Throw in satanic rituals, angry small-town mobs and powerful celestial oddities, and you’ve got an episode as bizarre as its vowel-less title. Chris Carter, the show’s creator, is said to have written the episode as a means to let viewers know that Mulder and Scully will not, in any way, shape or form, end up in a romantic partnership. Ahem.

Watch Season 3, Episode 13, 'Syzygy' at SBS On Demand

Shia LaBeouf

Which episode was he in? ‘The Goldberg Variation’ (Season 7, Episode 6)

What happened? In only his second year of professional acting, 13-year-old Shia LaBeouf turned out a pivotal performance as an ailing kid named Richie Lupone. With a rare disease, a just as rare blood type and in desperate need of an organ transplant, Richie nurses his failing health with a diet of Chicago-based sports fandom. In the end and with the help of Mulder and Scully, a matching donor is discovered in the least likely place. To find out whether it all goes according to plan, you only have to wait seven seasons.

Watch Season 7, Episode 6, 'The Goldberg Variation' at SBS On Demand

The X-Files complete seasons 1 - 11 are available to stream now at SBS On Demand. Episodes airing weeknights at 8:30PM on SBS VICELAND.

Start from the very beginning with Season 1, Episode 1, 'Pilot' at SBS On Demand



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