Nick Leaís talk at the San Francisco
X-Files Expo

Sunday, March 8, 1998

Transcribed by Lucas Henry


Hello! Howíd you like that? Krycek finally gets some. About time. Howís everybody doing? Iíve got to tell you, man, when I was asked to go to San Francisco to do this thing, I said yes so quickly I donít think they even got the question out. I love this place so much. Yesterday we did this and finally got some sleep. This place doesnít really let you go to sleep much, you know? I love this town.

So, you know, pretty much, you know Iím going to answer your questions and stuff that you guys have. Iíll start quickly by saying - boy is it quiet Iíll start quickly by talking a little about me and the show. You know, I was very fortunate to become a member, a part of this show; you know, as an actor, you - if youíre an actor with some integrity, you hope to be on a show where youíre surrounded with people who care, and actors who care, and producers who want something interesting on the television set. And, my prayers were answered basically when I was lucky enough to be accepted onto this thing, and that was about four and Ĺ, five years ago, and itís changed my life in a lot of ways, Iíve got to say, which is unusual for a television show. Not only have I made really close friendships with the people that I work with, but also, itís taught me that I can be on a television show as an actor and work with really competent people and work with people who really really care. Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, the people who create this show donít go to sleep at night until they feel theyíve got a really good television show. And thereís a lot of imposters out there; thereís a lot of shows that try to do the same sort of thing, but if you donít put your all into it, itís not going to be a good show. Obviously, you guys seem to like it, or you wouldnít be here

So, the long and the short of it is Iím lucky to work on the show, and Iím lucky to be here to day in front of you guys, and Iím happy to answer any questions that youíve got, unless theyíre a little too personal.

Whenís my birthday? My birthday is June 22... 1979. Howíre you doing?

Q: I wanted to know if when you started on The X-Files, when you first appeared , did you have any idea what was in store for Krycek?

A: No; I had no idea. I knew The day I got the role, I - my girlfriend at the time was working in a gym down the street, and I walked out of the audition - I was the only guy they auditioned in Vancouver for the role - and I walked out of the audition, and I usually get - I think I work fairly hard with my career, and I tend to get and be a little bit emotional when good things happen. And I got home, and the phone rang about fifteen minutes after I got there; my agent says ďHello...Krycek?Ē

So, I knew I got the role, and my girlfriend at the time was working in a gym down the street, and I ran down the street about four blocks - her name was Melinda McGraw, by the way; she played Melissa Scully - and I ran into the gym, and itís like, a lot of people are working out there, and I run down to the bottom of the stairs, and sheís up at the top on a bicycle, and I go I GOT IT!!! You know, I was so happy, and badabing, badaboom, here I am, you know?

But it was originally three episodes, and originally scripted that there would be a big blowout fight between myself and Mulder, and my character would sort of evaporate. What happened was that that didnít happen, they rewrote it, and I ended up just disappearing. No phone line, no - everything that was me, was gone, and I was really disappointed, because I thought thatís it, thatís not a good end to the show, and I thought they my character, and then, a short time later, I was back on the show, and back on again, and back on again, and back on again, so I had no idea. No idea.

Q: How do you feel about being called ďRatboyĒ?

A: Well, Iím thirty-five, you know, and Ratboy may be a bit misleading. But do I like it? I live with it, you know what I mean? I think itís funny actually; I get a kick out of it.

Q: Do you know, or have you kept track of, how many times Mulder has kicked your ass?

A: I think itís a hundred and seventeen. I think Iíd like to have ďEverlastĒ across the top of my forehead. But, you know, watch the show tonight, thatís all I can say. Kind of cool to be able to say ďWatch the show tonight.Ē Itís not every day you get to do that.

Q: What was it like working on The Commish?

A: What was it like, working on The Commish? It wasnít a grand position(?), to be honest with you, but that was the place where I - it was a great training ground for me, because I didnít have a really important role on the show, but I was there kind of as a peripheral character, and it gave me the chance to be in a real special situation, on a job, working with other actors, working with other people on the set; it was a great way for me to start working as an actor, yet not be known as a bogus one. So I was really grateful for the situation, for the experience, you know?

Q: Just to get away from The X-Files for a very little, are you going to do any more characters on Highlander?

A: Itís funny you should say that, they called about a week ago, and said that they were interested - they wanted to write me into an another episode. And I kind of donít have the time for it right now, and Iím sort of trying to cultivate - taking the situation I found on The X-Files, working on a really critically and acclaimed show, Iím trying to take that now and move it to the next part of my career, find something vibrant and important, maybe in films or in another television show rather than returning to the same thing. Thank you.

Q: I was just wondering, if they move the show to LA, will you guys all have to stop wearing dark overcoats? And how else might it affect the show?

A: Well, thatís a good question. I think that, frankly, I think the show will lose something. First of all, it worked for three years - five years - to accumulate the crew they got now, and itís like a well-oiled machine: you know, people have fun, but the job gets done, and it does get done. But I think Vancouver - as Chris has said in the past, Vancouver is a place which is a perfect location for the show because of the rain, because of the way that the sunís angle hits at particular times of the year, you know, and thereís forest, and thereís Chinatown, and you know, thereís mountains, thereís prairie area outside of town, so it can really double as almost anyplace. So I completely and utterly support David and Gillianís decision to go to Los Angeles, but I think that Vancouver is the perfect location for the show. But, you know, itís a give and take, right?

Q: I must say, I love your character Iíd like to know, do you have any problems with the FBI, with your character working for Cancerman

A: Well, my character doesnít work for anybody anymore; I mean, I worked for the FBI when I first started, and then, you know, as far as I was concerned, I was sort of handpicked by the Cigarette Smoking Man to do the job that I ended up doing. But I think that now heís just too much of a rogue character, whoís out there on his own, trying to look out for himself.

Q:

A: Heís a bit selfish that way. Did you guys see that movie clip? That was awesome. Really cool.

Q: I was wondering if when you first appeared back in "Genderbender," in your first role as Krycek, did you have any idea that youíd go on so long with this role?

A: When I was in "Genderbender," I actually wasnít Krycek, that was like the eleventh episode of the first season, and the sixth or eighth episode, the show hadnít even aired yet. I hadnít seen the show, I didnít really know what it was about, except for the script Iíd read, and that was where I first met Rob Bowman, who is a producer and director - I guess you see him interviewed in the movie, in the clip over here - and he and I formed like this really quick relationship, and I always come to the set with lots of ideas, and heís the same way, so we really had a great energy together. So when it came time to cast Krycek, they looked at like thirty guys in Los Angeles, and they read them all, and couldnít find anybody, and then Rob Bowman kept on saying ďYouíve got to see Nick Lea, youíve got to see him, I think heís right for the role.Ē So all the executives flew up to Vancouver to meet me, and I read the part and got it. And I said this yesterday, but Rob Bowman figures heís responsible for my career. So every time I see him now, I give him a dollar. Seriously. Iím down like a hundred and fifty bucks.

Q: Well, congratulations on your success.

A: Well, thanks. You know, success is kind of a relative thing, and Iím a little impatient. I want it all, you know. I want to keep working for sure. But thank you.

Q: I was wondering, did you already speak Russian, or did you study it for the role?

A: No. I donít speak Russian at all. This is really the second time that Iíve had to speak it. If it continues, Iím probably going to have going to have to try to learn at least the fundamentals of the language. I donít speak it at all right now, so what I have to do is learn it - whatís the word Iím looking for?

Everyone: Phonetically

A: Phonetically.

Q: Well, you have a great accent, I study Russian.

A. Thanks a lot. I think that somebody who really speaks the language is going to notice immediately that Iím not Russian, but my hope is that the majority of the people who watch the show will feel that itís authentic. But itís really hard, you know? Because what Iím basically doing is learning the thing phonetically, and itís a real exercise in right brain/left brain, because one side is the logical side, and thatís the learning from memory, how to speak it properly, and the other side is the creative side, where youíre acting, where that comes from, so youíre kind of balancing the two in the same moment, and itís a real challenge.

Q: Let me know if you need a tutor, ok?

A: Thank you.

Q: I was wondering what a typical day is like on the set.

A: A typical day on the set? I eat a little breakfast. You know what? The word ďfamilyĒ is maybe not an appropriate word, but from the moment I get there on set every day, everybody is, you know, comes up, ďhowís it going?Ē Iím friends with basically all the people, except for the people who are maybe new to the production. Itís a real joy for me just to work on the show. When Iím away from the show, I really miss it, I miss the people, and when Iím there, I never want to leave. So on a typical day, is just people working hard. And you know, when you see the show, and you see what goes into it, and itís like no other thing, unlike any other show on television. You can watch the big shows on tv - ER, NYPD Blue - as marvelous a show as those shows are, they donít go to Russia; they donít go to China; they donít go to South America. Every week weíre watching something from the North Pole - unbelievable what they seem to accomplish. And thatís in an eight or nine or maybe ten day shooting period. And every time I watch the show Iím astounded by what they accomplish. Unless you are really are familiar with how television shows are shot, itís hard to really, fully appreciate what theyíre doing. The showís great. People donít mind. Itís a beautiful thing.

Q: Congratulations on all your success, and I heard you do a lot of your own stunts, and I was wondering if you had a favorite, or a close call?

A: You know, I have - one of my best friends - whenever I do a stunt like that, I always ask him to come along, and I always tell him that he can have my set and my record collection. Hanging seventeen floors up from a building - I donít know how dangerous that was -

Q: Did you have a net?

A: Without a net. I was telling the story yesterday, I got there, and they said what weíre going to do is put a platform underneath you, and weíre just going to shoot you only down to your knees, right? So theyíre going to shoot at an angle like that so it looks like Iím hanging, but you canít see that my feet are on the platform. So I said, ďWell isnít it more interesting that you take the platform away, and you see my feet dangling, and you really get the perspective on the ground, and me, and it really looks like Iím dangling?Ē And they said, yeaahhh, well, thatís kind of what weíre after. So I said well, maybe thatís what we should do. So they took it away, and it was FRIGHTENING. Like, I was really cool before that; I would sort of out there, cool, no problem. I get out there, itís like GET ME BACK IN! It was scary; it was really scary. I mean, little things are always happening. When you see the show tonight, at a certain point, Iím handcuffed - we wonít talk about that - at a certain point, Iím handcuffed, and I like to sort of stay on set and stay in the acting state - if you go out and get a cup of coffee, get something, you kind of lose the sense of where you are, and the more time spent like that with my hand in handcuffs, the more feeling I got of where I was. So I asked if I could stay that way while they put up the lights and everything, and I still have no feeling in the right side of my thumb. And thatís from three and a half weeks ago. So little stuff always happens. Thereís always aches and bruises and pain in some part of the anatomy. In the episode where Mulderís father was killed and I was hanging out in the shower, we go on afterwards, I meet him outside, they fight outside in the parking lot, and he throws me on top of a car. Well that was probably twenty takes, all in all. By the time you finish doing that, youíre sore. I was saying in the special that was on a couple of weeks ago, throwing a punch is one thing, and accepting a punch as an actor is something else, as you have to throw your whole body into it, to make it look like youíre really getting hit. And to give you some indication of what the producers are like, the next day, the next morning they had a massage therapist come to my hotel room and give me like an hour and a half massage. Itís not easy, but itís a lot of fun, you know?

Q: Do you have a book out?

A: A book out? No. What would I talk about? I donít think Iím that interesting.

Q: If you could play any other male character on the show, who would it be? And if you could play any other female character on the show?

A: Okay. You know, Iíd probably play Marita Covarrubias, cause she gets to make out with Krycek. There arenít that many female characters on the show. Am I correct in thinking, isnít today International Womenís Day?

Everyone: Yes.

A: You know, all the men should do something for the women today.

A: You know what I did before I came here? I went to - you guys know The Pines?

Fans: The Church?

A: Yeah. The Church. Iím not a big Churchgoer, but I did go this morning, and man, was that great. Like the gospel singers and stuff? Unbelievable.

Q: You have been acting for ten years or so; and in your future, which do you think you will prefer? Acting or directing, being behind the scenes more? (Paraphrased)

A: Well, I - do I want to direct eventually? All actors want to direct. But I think that I will continue to act because thatís how I - Iíve discovered that thatís how Iím kind of figuring out who I am and what it is maybe I can bring to the world, if anything, so Iím going to discover myself through acting, but by the same token, I know when Iím on the set, I never shut up, and I always have ideas, so I think thereís a director in there somewhere trying to get out, but thatíll be a ways down the road for sure.

Q: First of all, on behalf of all the fans, thanks so much for showing up. Youíre one of our favorite characters

A: Iíll tell you right now, you donít need to thank me at all, because Iím probably one of the happiest people in the room right now. When they asked me to come here, I was like ďYeah!Ē Itís an easy thing for me, and a lot of fun.

Q: Well, I guess that answers my second question. Thereís been a lot in print about how the two leading characters are afraid about being typecast and always remembered as ďFoxĒ and ďDana.Ē Are you worried about that?

A: Not at all. I donít think it matters. I donít think, as an actor, you should be - I think that, at a certain point, perhaps, if youíre ďMacGyver,Ē you should be concerned about it. Which is no reflection on Richard Dean Anderson, but my point is that, you know, you have to work; youíve got to work, or youíre not really an actor. And I donít care whether itís professional or amateur acting. So, you know, my plan is to keep on working. I just did a series in Toronto where I played a good guy. A good guy who, you know, with a bit of a bad , but a good guy. So I donít, so far, I havenít really been typecast, although, occasionally I get asked to audition for roles that are evil or bad guys, but you know what, thatís fun, and Iíve said this in interviews before, itís more fun to play a bad guy, but a bad guy whoís bad for a reason, and what are his reasons for doing what he does, or a hero or a good guy whoís got problems. And those are the interesting roles for me, and I think those are the interesting roles for people to watch. So, you know, whether good, bad, whatever, I try to the person, you know.

Q: Iíd like to ask a two part question. First part. Are you working with an actual prosthetic arm now, or is just make-up?

A: Well, the story behind that was - our first day on set with a fake arm, well, it wasnít a fake arm, they bought a glove, a prosthetic, I said yesterday it looked like something youíd, like a part of a Frankenstein outfit picked up from Thriftyís > It didnít, for whatever reasons, it didnít do a good job; it had seams on it; and so, it was like, weíre going to push the shooting date, weíre going to have to shoot some other time, because we donít have what we need, and I felt, how about if we get a surgical glove, a doctorís surgical glove, and paint it with makeup, and Iíll keep my hand - my hands are shaking, man - I would keep my hand in a particular sort of funky position, and thatís what we do now. And I also have them put a cast on my arm so my arm doesnít move. So for example, in last weekís episode, when I put my arm - I mean it works from the shoulder, but thatís about it, and I can also carry things in it. But thatís what it is - itís a glove and itís been painted.

Q: Have you gotten lots of film offers from the show, from film companies?

A: Iím getting offers to do things, but you know, itís the old, thereís not an overwhelming amount of interesting things in the theater or on television. So Iím trying to - you know, the only power an actor has is his willingness to say ďnoĒ to things. So, Iím trying to fashion my career to get to a place where Iím doing things that I think are going to be of value, and as I was saying yesterday, I think this show is because I think thereís a real lack of good storytelling these days. Whether itís on television, or films or whatever - thereís just really no more good storytelling to speak of. And I think this show really does that. And I think every week it takes people to a new place, and it really exercises your imagination. When I was in Europe last year, doing a PR tour, I met a lot of fans of the show. And it was amazing what it does for people. Weíre all pretty affluent, weíre all basically middle class for the most part. You go to Northern Ireland, where, you know, life is not easy, life is pretty tough, living with the IRA and things like that, and watching - peopleís reaction to television - it takes them out of their everyday existence and shows them something unusual and exciting every week. Itís the power of television really bringing it home to me now, and itís really exciting to be a part of that, you know. And thatís what I want to continue to do. Whether itís films like Philadelphia or whatever, I want to do things that people really react to when they watch, maybe they learn something or maybe feel happier or worse or whatever, but it affects them somehow instead of just the 99.9% of garble on television that I refuse to do.

Q: Did you have to learn a lot of the stage combat that you do on the show, I mean I think of all the - whatís it like to have your character get beat up all the time?

A: Well, let me put it this way - I think I have a knack for it. I love actors like Harrison Ford, who in Indiana Jones, when you see him get punched and he falls down, it really looks like heís getting punched, and Al Pacino is another actor who so beautifully portrays physical pain, and I think that thereís - you have to have a knack for that. And I love the challenge of something that looks like Iím really hurt. And - so Iíve never really done any stage fighting, I , I just love getting the crap beat out of me.

Q: I have a question. How is your reaction to the people - I mean everybody here says to me, itís not just a show - that, oh, good, The X-Files is on; itís got to be: OH GOOD! X-FILES IS ON!! Do you think we all need, like mental health ? Do you think itís a good thing that we get so involved in the show, and, like, X-Files is, like, one of the biggest things on the Internet - do you think that weíre like all overboard, like, is that a good thing?

A: Do you want me to be honest with you?

Audience: Yes.

A: I, my feelings are - and, again, Iím being honest with you about this - my feelings about this are - thereís a lot of - I would love to see everybody here take a third of that energy and put it into their family, or their community, or people along the street that need their help. You know, if you walk around this city, man, thereís a lot of people asking for money, and some of them really need it, you know what I mean? So I think that everything in moderation.

Q: And my second question is - you were talking to another guy earlier about the fact that we donít really know why Krycek does what he does, like for Cancerman, whom heís working for. Do you think that there is something that, like Mulderís searching everywhere for Samantha - do you think that Krycek has a similar incident that is driving him to do all this, or does he just do it out of lack of knowing what else to do with his life?

A: Itís a good question. When I first got into the role and read the first script, there was really no past history on my character; there never really has been. You only see what heís doing in the moment; youíre never sure why, what drives him. But I kind of built a bit of a biography for this fellow, and I picked a few things from my own life that drive me, etc.; and I donít really talk about it much because itís kind of like a little secret I like to keep. But thereís certainly in my mind things that make this character tick and make him do what he does. But, then again, Iím sorry, but I kinda I donít want to, itís a little secret for myself, you know?

Q: Thank you.

A: Good question. Thank you. Apparently we only have about five minutes.

Q: Howíre you doing?

A: Iím doing pretty good.

Q: How did you like playing the part with little lady friend in the hallway action?

A: When I picked up the script, I went WHAT? Who am I kissing? I better tell you, there hasnít really been a lot - when you see Krycek, he might hurt somebody, or somebodyís trying to hurt him. I was excited about it, because of the fact that it was an opportunity to see another side of the character, maybe, you know? And it was a bit jarring when I saw the episode, because itís not like anything theyíve showed before, theyíve never had a walk around in February. It was really fun to do. And the director, Kim Manners, had a particular way he wanted to shoot it, and I suggested something different, which is what we inevitably ended up going with. But, you know, we knocked teeth on the first take, Laurie and I. And we were, the night before, we were, we kept saying ďwould you like to kiss now and get it over with, break the ice? Itís always awkward; I mean, I know her, but I donít know her that way, Iíve never, like, made out with her. So that was a little unusual, but sheís a real pro, and it definitely was a lot of fun to make that. We were actually kissing in between takes.

Q: I read somewhere that you were part of a band, and after I saw it, I was wondering very much what you played or sang?

A: I sang, yes. I sang and I played a little bit of keyboard. And occasionally, fake playing guitar. Iíd get up on stage and get one of the guitars, and get one of the guitarists to stand backstage and play, and Iíd play; you know, somebody came out one day and pulled the plug out and I didnít know, and I was walking around... Yeah, I was in a band for about five years, and

Q: Hi, I really enjoyed Once a Thief, and what was it like working with John Woo?

A: John is a real gentleman; very quiet, very reserved; very warm and kind and thoughtful, yet his movies are like, you know, One of the big reasons why I decided to do that show was to get the opportunity to work with John, and it was a real treat.

Q: (child) What happened to your arm?

A: What happened to my arm? It got cut off. Did you see the clip?

Q: Do you watch the show, other than the episodes you are in?

A: Oh yeah, sure.

Q: Do you have a favorite episode?

A: I liked the one the week before last. Yeah. I thought it was really really good. Theyíre all really good friends of mine, you know? And I get a kick out of watching my friends who are good actors. And itís such a good show, that even as well as I know the people, I know the show, I know the writing, I know the little ins and outs and the guts of the show, I, itís such a good show that I can still watch it and get carried away by it. You know, I met Mark Snow for the first time yesterday. Itís funny, but there are people who are involved with the show that you just never meet, and Mark and I never met, but I think that Mark is an unsung hero of the show. I watched specifically for the music last weekend, and I think he did a beautiful job, you know? And thatís not really the answer to your question, and Iím sorry.

Q: I think you do a really great job with your character. Does it bother you so many people look forward to seeing him die a messy death?

A: Can we get Security over here? Does anyone want to see my character actually die?

Audience: NO!

A: Does that answer your question?

A: We have time for one more question, and thatís it. Sorry.

Q: Whatís your favorite episode that youíre in?

A: My favorite ep - well, I love "Piper Maru"; I loved that two-parter, actually, the one where I first get to speak Russian and it was great shooting outside in the bush. Although I think, dramatically, I love "Duane Barry." Steve Railsback, who played Duane Barry, I thought did a beautiful job. I was talking about this yesterday, but on paper, it was a character who was crazy and out of control, and a bit dastardly, but when Steve read it, he brought this whole Ďlittle boyí aspect to the role, where you felt sympathy for the character. It was a real lesson for me to watch how an actor can take words and dialogue on a page and really manipulate it to his vision of the way it should go. I love those three episodes, although I must say "Ascension" - my tie was in the episode more than I was. A lot of it happened around a bar and a table, and for whatever reason, I was standing, but the camera was down here, so I missed all but you see my tie. Well, Iíve got to get off right now, but - yeah, off the stage - but I just wanted to say thank you for being really warm. I love being out here. Itís a little daunting, frankly, walking into the stage building and seeing all the people here, but you guys made everything really easy, and you have a beautiful city, and if you ever have a chance to come to Vancouver, itís also pretty cool. So take care of yourselves, and Iíll see you later at the autograph lines.


Check out these photos of Nick at the Expo:

Nicholas Lea Pics

X-FILES Expo Photos



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