Dean Haglund

Canadian born actor/comic Dean Haglund was born on 29 July 1965, in Oak Bank, Manitoba, Canada. He began in stand-up comedy, and still performs at comedy clubs across North America. He is a member of the improv group Vancouver TheaterSports. He is probably most well known for his nine seasons playing Ringo Langly, one of the computer geeks known as "The Lone Gunmen" in The X-Files.
Darren Rea caught up with him as season eight of The X-Files was due to be released on DVD...

Darren Rea: What was it that attracted you to your role in The X-Files?

Dean Haglund: At the time it wasn't going to be a big part. During the first season it was a show that no one had really heard of and the Gunmen were just going to be in one episode only. So it seemed a nice way to do a day on a TV show you'd never heard of and go back to live theatre, stand-up comedy and all the things you were doing beforehand. There wasn't really a heart wrenching decision whether to do it or not. It was like: "Oh yes. Good. Oh, it's over. Off you go."

In fact, that sentiment continued well into the third season. If you dig out your early DVDs, you'll notice that in every episode I'm wearing a different pair of glasses. The prop guy just kept throwing them back in the bag, and I couldn't remember what I'd worn in the episode before. We'd go: "Were these them?" [Laughs].

DR: Is it true that there were reviews around at the time that mentioned that the Lone Gunmen were the best thing about the The X-Files and that you probably saved it from cancellation?

DH: [Laughs] There are all sorts of decisions that go into cancelling or keeping a show on the air and it would be a little arrogant of me to say that I personally, single handedly saved the show from cancellation. For sure the writing and the quirkiness was something that hadn't been seen on television before, and that helped keep it alive.

Also, the fact that we played computer hackers sort of came out at the same time as the Internet fanbase really started developing through This was an early newsgroup that the writers and producers would go to get honest feedback on a TV show.

This was something that had never really happened before on a TV show, because normally the writer calls his mum, and his mum says: "I didn't like the girl." So they'd take the girl out. And now here was the chance to see fan reaction, without the fans knowing that the writers and producers were actually there.

DR: Does it not worry you that you've played a lot of drug users and nerds and that there are casting directors out there that will see you and go: "Yup! He looks like a drug user, let's hire him."?

DH: It would, only you're assuming I still look like that. I know you can't see me because this is a phone interview, but in fact, right now, I'm wearing a tie and I've cut off all of my hair. In my latest movie, Spectres, I play a psychologist called Doctor Halsey who saves a teenage girl. So I believe there will be a whole new typecasting of: "Oh, we need a psychologist who saves 16-year-olds." So, no I'm not worried at all.

In Spectres I play a psychologist who is faced with some phenomenal phenomena - does that make sense? I actually play somewhat of a sceptic but have connections to some people who work in the other realm. I'm the middle man in this movie as opposed to the way out there one. It's a real chance for me to play something a little bit more dramatic rather than the weird gookie, geekie one.

It was shot on HD, 24-frame and the quality is phenomenal. It's the future of movie making. It makes the process much easier.

DR: Before you changed your appearance, did your screen character spill over into real life. Did you get people coming up to you in the street and asking you to fix their computer?

DH: Absolutely. Yes they would ask me all sorts of questions, like how to fix a computer or make their television work, which sadly I kinda know how to do. In fact I've invented something to speed up your laptop without installing any hardware or uploading any software... Now you've gone silent...

DR: I'm waiting for the punchline.

DH: [Laughs] No. There's no punchline. If you visit you'll see the website for Chill Pak which is a cooling system for very thin laptops. You put the Chill Pak in the freezer and it has a special condensation proof sleeve around it so that no moisture develops under your computer. It drives the heat away from the CPU, directly through the bottom of the laptop allowing it to run faster, preventing lockup and screen slowdown and all that sort of stuff that you get with laptops nowadays.

So it has come full circle. I played the computer geek, and now I am the geek chic of computer accessories.

DR: Going back to your time as the on-screen computer geek? Were you surprised that The Lone Gunmen spin-off series didn't work as expected?

DH: Yes, I was surprised. There are so many things that go into why a show is successful and why it isn't. I was surprised that was the year that everyone wanted to watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire? five times a week. [Laughs] That sort of stunned me. I don't think I managed to sit through an entire episode of that thing.

It was a very bizarre time in television viewing history - when primetime gameshows somehow took over. There was a bunch of shows that lost it. Now and Again was a critically acclaimed show and that was cancelled, as was Freaky Links - which was made by The Blair Witch people. All these shows, theoretically had they come on at any other time in history than this gameshow phenomena, probably would have fared much better.

So, that doesn't attest to the quality of the shows themselves, but more the Zeitgeist of the time. And it was just unlucky timing, I think.

DR: Were there storylines and character developments which were due to be explored which never saw the light of day because of that?

DH: There were all sorts of things. They ended the episode with us being trapped in a vault and they had big plans for how we were going to get out of there. They were alluding to, as the Gunmen always were, that we may not always be what we seem. That yes, we seem like these good guys fighting for just causes and stuff, but there may be a darker side to all of us. Like, maybe we're double agents, or something like that.

The writers had all sorts of plans which they never got the opportunity to explore. It's regrettable, but at the same time I'm thankful that it lasted as long as it did.

DR: You're also well known as a comedian. Did your act change at all once you became well known for your X-Files role?

DH: Because I trained with Ryan Stiles and Colin Mockery from Whose Line is it Anyway? I now improvise an episode of The X-Files live on stage. People who watch the show, and those that don't, can shout things out and I make every show completely different. It's a joy for me to do, because I don't get completely bored out of my skull repeating the same jokes over and over, night after night. At the same time I get to meet some of the people.

Some comics come to these towns, they have bright lights in their face - and have no idea who they are talking to. Then they go back to their hotel room and never really knew they were in London to begin with. So, I love doing my improvised X-Files episode live now because it's a lot of fun for me, the fans, and it means I get to meet a lot of people.

DR: Are there any conspiracy theories that you think may be credible?

DH: Let's see... John F. Kennedy was a suicide... I don't think that was true? [Laughs] The whole "gun between his knees" theory - it just doesn't seem plausible.

The joy about a conspiracy is that there doesn't have to be any evidence. That's part of the conspiracy - the fact that they wiped out all of the evidence.

I could say lemons control my mind. And you'd say: "That's ridiculous! There's no evidence." And you could argue: "Exactly. That's how they control your mind - by making you believe that they are completely innocent." So, you can put any two elements together and make it a conspiracy theory.

But, some of them seem more compelling than others when evidence starts stacking up. Like with the recent Iraq war. My conspiracy friends have a large different body of evidence as to why they went in, which is long and complicated and those who are interested will already have been pointed towards websites that go into long explanations of those reasons.

Even if things are printed in the paper... reporters have been known to fabricate reports. When they say: "The truth is out there," it may be, but because it is so subjective even if you see it in print you don't know if it is really true unless you experience it for yourself.

DR: What happened to your website?

DH: I had to close it for legal reasons, believe it or not. It was cited in a litigation that, for legal reasons [laughs] I can't really talk about it. I've closed that down, but now I'm opening This will have information on where I'll be appearing, funny stories and also Dean's garage sale.

I'm selling on eBay all my X-Files memorabilia. There's crew gifts and funny things I kept from the show and from conventions. I'll be selling them off when I get the time. The first item was The Lone Gunmen promotional yo-yo. Which actually someone here in London purchased and as I'm over here he's going to meet me at my gig tomorrow night so that I can hand over his signed yo-yo. It's kind of a great way to meet the world - sell off your stuff.

Did you hear about that guy who sold off all his furniture and possessions on eBay? He kept the address of everybody who bought his stuff and now just travels around visiting his stuff. It's something to do, I guess.

DR: Season eight of The X-Files is being released on DVD this month. How do you view that media? Do you embrace it?

DH: I do embrace it. I think it's all part of the same continuum. I know some actors who feel weighted down by the past work that they've done, but to my mind it's all just an ongoing forward line that only weighs you down if you feel trapped by it. I certainly don't. It was a joy to be on the show and it's afforded me opportunities I would never have had otherwise. Including inventing wonderful computer accessories like the Chill Pak.

DR: What are you working on at the moment?

DH: I've just been offered another movie called Nightmare Carnival which will be shooting in the spring and will be released around Christmas. And then I have two or three other features. Also I've written a movie, that we are currently getting funding for, which includes Patrick McGoohan who was in The Prisoner. That's based on a conspiracy theory as well. It's about the guy who discovered a cure for cancer - Royal Raymond Rife. And if your readers do an Internet search for him they can find out a bit more about this conspiracy.

DR: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Nina Criswick at DSA

Season Eight of The X-Files is released on DVD from 20th Century Fox on the 15 March 2004

Order your copy on DVD for £59.99 (RRP: £79.99) by clicking here

Return to...

banner ad