Nicholas Lea: The X-Files' "Ratboy" talks exclusively to us about slash-sexual encounters.


Cult TV #11, June 1998

Nicholas Lea

David Hughes meets Nicholas Lea, alias The X-Files' double-crossing triple agent Alex 'Ratboy' Krycek.

"I think that there's things in the world other than The X-Files to be putting your energies into," says Nicholas Lea, who plays the cold-hearted ex-FBI agent Alex Krycek on The X-Files. "If the fans would give maybe a third of the energy they devote to The X-Files into doing something a little more important...

"I just think the focus is a little misplaced," he adds. "After all, it is just a television show!" These are brave words from the man who bumped off both Mulder's father and Scully's sister, the man who those same die-hard fans have dubbed 'Ratboy' after he betrayed Mulder in only his second appearance on the show. But Lea isn't finished there. In his eyes, theres much more to Krycek. "He's not just a cold killer," he states firmly. "He's basically a guy who's in way over his head and is frightened, actually."

Indeed, Lea says he has done his best to keep the lines between good and evil as blurred as possible: "I try to add stuff as much as I can. For instance, there was a scene in 'Ascension' where I whack the cablecar operator over the head. The way it was written in the script, my hand comes down on his head and there's a smash-cut to the tram going the other way. But when we shot it, I whacked him, and then I ran my hand through my hair to kind of put it back in place, and they kept it in."

This, according to Lea, showed a glimpse of Krycek's own self-doubt: "I love those things - the little movements and mannerisms that show you more of the person."

Lea is also happy at the fame and recognition Krycek has brought him. "The more you're seen, the better chance you have of getting the roles you want," he admits. It's this recognition which has partially, at least, made him keen to get back on the show. The last we saw of stone-hearted Alex Krycek was when he opted to join the list of TVs best- loathed one-armed bandits from The Fugitive to Twin Peaks by having his left arm lopped off in the fourth season episode 'Terma.'

Nevertheless, Lea admits he was ready to give up his right arm as well in order to get back on the show.

"I was dying to get back on The X-Files," the 35-year-old admits, "but it was difficult because I was doing this other show."

This other show, which tied up Lea in the year between 'Terma' and season five's 'Patient X', was John Woo's Once A Thief, a syndicated action-comedy series co-starring Sandrine Holt and Ivan Sergei.

Nevertheless, Krycek's comeback in the latest X-Files two-parter - released on video this month as 'File 12: Patient X'- is well worth waiting for. This is mainly because Lea gets to have a steamy, stormy and totally unexpected 'love scene' with Marita Covarrubias (Laurie Holden), Special Representative to the UN Secretary General.


"The fact that you got to see Krycek actually have a personal slash-sexual encounter with somebody was exciting, because you'd never seen that aspect of the character before - there was never any hint of that fire," he says. "It came out of left-field, and I think it surprised a lot of people."

Perhaps even more surprisingly, Krycek gets to pay Mulder back for a series of physical beatings he has taken since his introduction back in season two. "You finally got to see Krycek take advantage of Mulder, instead of always getting beat up," Lea laughs. 'He gets to give him a little bit back - and with one hand, that's quite a feat! Also, my character has a speech which sets up the film, about what's going on currently in the whole story which was a culmination of the whole five years. I had two scenes, but they were both big scenes."

Given that Krycek was used to set up the story of the film, was Lea disappointed to be one of the only X-Files regulars not cast in it? "Yeah, I was," he states emphatically. "Although I was in Toronto working on Once A Thief at the time, so it would have been almost impossible."

"I know that they were trying to get me into it," he adds. "They had written four or five different drafts, some concerning me, some not. But as far as I know, there's going to be another film, and they told me I would be in that one. So, I was disappointed but - you know - I'm over it."

Lea, now living in LA, originally hails from Vancouver, home of both The X-Files and The Commish, the off-beat US cop show in which he played officer Nicky Caruso [sic]. Lea came to acting at the relatively late age of 25, having fronted a band for five years beforehand. It had been heavily influenced by early 80s British pop music - Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and the like - but success wasn't forthcoming, and he'd already been forced to supplement his income by selling clothes in a local store.

Although Lea has also appeared in such forgettable movies as Star 80 and Xtro II, and also guest-starred on TV shows such as Lonesome Dove, Sliders and Highlander, it was his recurring role on The Commish that led to the show's producers Glen Morgan and James Wong casting Lea in The X-Files for the first time. More casual fans will be surprised to learn that he didn't play Krycek on his debut, but instead portrayed a nightclub patron surprised by the instant sex-change performed by his partner in the first season episode, 'Genderbender'. The actor evidently made an impression on the director Rob Bowman, who subsequently cast him as Mulder's new partner during the 'pregnant pause' caused by Gillian Anderson's absence during season two.

"He was saying how much money he thought I owed him because he'd given me my big break," Lea says of Bowman, who has also directed the X-Files feature film Fight the Future. "So every time I see him now I give him a buck."

Surely, as fees go, this isn't a bad deal? "Yeah, but I bump into him fairly regularly!"

The X-Files is currently showing on Skyl on Sundays at 9pm. 'File 12: Patient X' is available on video now, as is the feature-length pilot of Once A Thief entitled John Woo's Violent Tradition.

With the article are two photos. The "Tunguska" one with the baseball cap, captioned "But for fate, Lea might have been the next Simon Le Bon."

And a big one of Nick and Mitch from a couple of years ago, captioned "When not tormenting Mulder and Scully, Nicholas Lea has found the time to star in Once a Thief, and make appearances in Sliders and Highlander."


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