X-Files Interview: Doug ‘Tooms’ Hutchison

As part of a Den of Geek reader’s campaign to get Tooms back to our screens, Christian manages to track down the X-Files legend for a quick natter…

Doug Hutchison as Tooms in The X-Files.

Yesterday, we reported on how Christian Cullen had kicked off a campaign to get a new X-Files movie made based around the character of Tooms. Well, Tooms was played by Doug Hutchison, and Christian managed to track him down for a quick chat…

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Skinny Minute

Christian: Some eagle-eyed X-Philes were quick to notice your comment in your website interview in 2006 that you would be willing to work with X-Files veterans Glenn Morgan and James Wong again, and to quote you: “I’d work again with Morgan and Wong in a skinny minute”. Would this apply in general to the creators of the show?

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Doug: Yes. I enjoyed all the creators I had the pleasure of meeting back in season one of X-Files. I just have a special place in my heart for Morgan and Wong because they totally went to bat for me on more than one occasion. As you probably know, Morgan and Wong hired me for a plethora of their projects post X-Files: Millennium, Space: Above & Beyond, Skip Chasers, etc.

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The $64,000 Question

Christian: All future instalments of The X-Files will take the form of cinematic releases. There is an inevitable sense that a mythology-based movie will be released in 2012 to continue the alien invasion plot. Other than this movie, numerous fans have suggested that if there is another standalone-type instalment, Tooms is the most popular. When are you available for filming?

Doug: Now!

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“The Art of Stillness”

Christian: All of your nuances as a performer made your appearances extremely memorable, and this is constantly discussed on a plethora of active fan sites. On your website, www.darkwaterinc.com, you give an intriguing insight into what the powerful emotions felt by the audience that are generated from the pure simplicity of certain performances, such as John Lithgow on stage. When Tooms first emerges into the light from the air duct at gunpoint, do I detect the Art of Stillness there?

Doug: Actually, yes. I first began exploring the concept of stillness in Squeeze. It was the interrogation lie-detector test scene where I was attempting stillness. I focused on a spot on the wall… And kept as still as possible as I answered the questions … “Yes … No … Yes … No …”

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That Escalator Incident

Christian: How sure are you that Tooms was indeed killed, in the episode, Tooms?… Surely if anyone could have survived the escalator incident, it would have been him?

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Doug: Tooms is alive and well and hibernating in a nest of bile somewhere in the bowels of Livermore, California.

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Empathy

Christian: Do you find yourself empathising with Tooms and cheering him on, or are you more scared for his victims et al?

Doug: I usually don’t find myself reacting to my characters. I just create them … And let the audience decide whether they’re empathetic or scared or compelled to cheer me on.

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Re-watching “Squeeze” and “Tooms”

Christian:  Swathes of X-Philes around the world can quote the entire scripts by liver – uh, sorry, by heart of both Squeeze and Tooms. How often do you watch these episodes?

Doug: Oh my goodness … I don’t think I’ve seen either Squeeze or Tooms in, like, forever! Whenever I have time and am compelled to watch anything, it’s usually something I’m not in! —————-

Young at Heart

Christian: If I may say so, you appear to have borrowed one of Tooms’ abilities: not to age at all! Is there a hibernation secret you ought to tell us?

Doug: Thanks for the compliment, Christian! Although: I am getting older. It’s inevitable. Happens to the best of us. However, I chock my residual ‘youthful appearance’ to good genes, a decent diet [no livers, though], and avoiding the sun like the plague. I’ve also never smoked, I enjoy what I do for a living, and I’m in love with life. I think being in love with life is a key to eternal youth.

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Christian: On the age point, when you played Tooms, did you ever get a sense of how old he could potentially have been in 1993 (we only know he was over 100 years old when polygraph tested)?

Doug: Gosh, I never really considered how old ol’ Eugene might’ve really been. Maybe I should’ve explored that. On the other hand, I don’t think Eugene probably ever considered it either. I think Eugene woke up every 30 years, hunted, had a little fun, ate his quotient of livers, and curled right back up into that nest again to sleep it off … And dream of art …

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Eugene-ious

Christian: Scully suggested in her psychological profile of Tooms that he was of above average intelligence, enjoyed the challenge of a more complicated kill, but sometimes sought to capture the emotional highs of previous murders. Meanwhile, Detective Frank Briggs described him as a ‘human monster’. Given that Scully’s profile seemed to be correct, how on earth did you, as an actor, get your head around these contrasting traits?

Doug: I was an above average intelligent monster!

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Creepy Fingers

Christian: In the teaser sequence to the follow up episode, Tooms, Tooms is given hope of legitimate release from prison by Dr. Aaron Monte,  having attempted to escape moments earlier by dislocating various joints to stretch towards his cell doorlock. When Dr. Monte says, “Let’s keep our fingers crossed!” Tooms even crosses his fingers in a really creepy way. How much thought do you put into these small details?”

Doug: To be honest: not a heckuva lot of thought. Hate to disappoint, but basically David Nutter put the camera on a close-up of my hand  and said, “Okay … Cross your fingers … Now”

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Eugene Vindictive Tooms

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Christian: Tooms became particularly vindictive against Mulder in the second episode, such as when the former smiled at the latter when leaving court as a free ‘man’. Later, he waited until Mulder became exhausted after the stake-outs, and framed him for assault whilst he was asleep in his own apartment, presumably to remove Mulder as a threat… Assuming Tooms was indeed alive, and he (for whatever reason) were to come out of hibernation now, how do you imagine he might deal with Mulder and Scully as a threat to his new spate of murders (bear in mind, they’ve both changed address!)?

Doug: I think Tooms might move to Liverpool and hunt there. F*ck Mulder and Scully! Let’em chase aliens and shit and leave me to my liver pate …

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Finger Lickin’ Good

Christian: There was one cringeworthy scene where Tooms sucked the fingers of his latex-gloved hand having picked up a dead rat and placed it into a sack as part of his job as an animal control officer. What is your interpretation of that?

Doug: Lust. Pure hunger lust. Excruciating anticipation. Just a taste of something decadent. An appetizer … Until the main course …

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—————- A Serious Question…

Christian: You insisted upon being completely naked (apart from the bile-esque Karo syrup and food colouring) in Tooms’ hibernation scene and this decision was a huge hit with the creators and fans subsequently. Are you a man who suffers for your art? Where would you draw the line?

Doug: Suffer for my art? Indeed. I … Like … Art. Where would I draw the line? Hmmm … Let’s see … Well, I would never never ever do a love scene with David Duchovny … Naked … And covered in Karo syrup. Never! Now, Gillian, on the other hand …

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The X-Files: To Be Continued

Christian: Finally, what would you say to convince any Fox executives who might not consider The X-Files: I Want To Believe’s profit margin to be high enough to warrant further X-Files movies?

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Doug: Hey guys, would you consider The Tooms Files: I Want To De-Liver? Box office gold!

Thanks Doug!

Interviews at Den Of Geek