Exclusive Interview: Dean Haglund Talks ‘Lone Gunmen’, Watch Lists and 9/11
During this past Supanova Convention we had the chance to sit down with X-Files and Lone Gunman star Dean Haglund, who played the conspiracy driven hacker Langly. We talked about hacking in the media, conspiracy nuts and being watched by the government.
Listen to the audio or read the transcript!
G-Funk: We’re the House of Geekery and we’re in Perth for Supanova and we’re with Dean…I’ll make sure I get this right…Haglund.
Dean Haglund: You sure nailed that one! Way to go!
Funk: That’s good, it’s the first one I’ve ever gotten right.
Haglund: Is that right? I make them easier.
Funk: We could have John Smith and I’ll mess it up.
Haglund: Oh yeah. Gary Jones should be easy when you talk to him.
Funk: Enough about him, we’re talking to you: Dean Haglund. People know you best for The X-Files and for The Lone Gunmen.
Haglund: I was Langly, the one with the long hair and the glasses.
Funk: It’s been a while since we saw The X-Files or The Lone Gunmen on TV, so for our young, impressionable readers, who is your character?
Haglund: I played Langly, we were computer hackers. We were a group, the three of us, called ‘The Lone Gunmen’. We had this cool office where we’d hack into high level facilities so Mulder and Scully could get into all sorts of hijinks.
Funk: That was during the mid- to late 90s. That’s a pretty ahead of its time concept.
Haglund: Yeah, now there isn’t a TV show that can’t have a hacker because so much of it would be ridiculous if there wasn’t somebody breaking into some system somehow.
Funk: We’ve got shows like Mr. Robot coming up, which is coming up, and it’s the same concept and you were doing this 20, 30 years ago.
Haglund: I know! How advanced were those writers? Well ahead of the curve.
Funk: Incredible. The Lone Gunmen, the spin-off from The X-Files, didn’t last past the first season.
Haglund: I know, and I drew a comic book called ‘Why The Lone Gunmen Got Cancelled’, all true story written by me, drawn by me, all from my perspective.
Funk: Is that on sale here?
Haglund: That’s on sale here. I printed a thousand and I’m down to my last 50.
Funk: Put one aside?
Haglund: I can’t make any promises…ok, you talked me into it!
Funk: Can we get a quick summary, because it (the series) was so far ahead of its time, it was critically acclaimed and it was coming from Chris Carter straight of the back of The X-Files…how did not go?
Haglund: Right?! It even had guarantees in place…it’s a long story, longer than this podcast can possibly run. Is this podcast, or terrestrial?
Funk: We’ll type it up.
Haglund: Ok! Suffice to say the relationship between Chris Carter and the Fox network executives had, over the years, eroded…is that a polite way to say that?
Funk: That’s as polite as we can be about Fox, cancelling all the great shows with people we’ve got here today.
Haglund: Absolutely, and you think about the fantastic Family Guy reboot when they came back and they listed the famous 33 shows, all the shows they cancelled prematurely and Lone Gunmen was in that list. We were very proud to be in Family Guy that way.
Funk: If we saw the Lone Gunmen come back, do you think it’s still got legs?
Haglund: Well, yeah. We’ve got the IDW comic book series called X-Files Season 10, which is co-written by Chris Carter and officially part of the canon of the X-Files lore, sees the Lone Gunmen alive and explains how they survived all these years. If you read the comic book you’ll see that we’re not dead, we’re alive, and back ad it.
Funk: I’m going to assume – I’ve got a young demographic of readers – that they haven’t seen The Lone Gunmen…
Haglund: But they’re going to…
Funk: Of course.
Haglund: Because they’re filming a six episode closer.
Funk: That’s good because it got left on a cliff hanger.
Haglund: It got left on a cliffhanger, there was no real resolution, it’s called X-Files…I think X-Files: Resolution. They started production two weeks ago in Vancouver. It’s got all the original cast. It’s got David (Duchovny), Gillian (Anderson), Mitch Pileggi who played Skinner, the cigarette smoking man is in it…the Lone Gunmen, however, have not received a phone call yet but they haven’t written all the episodes yet. So…
Haglund: Maybe. Here we are crossing our fingers.
Funk: For our young readers who haven’t watched it yet…
Haglund: Yes, and who will. Netflix binge watch is highly recommended.
Funk: We just got Netflix!
Haglund: I know! I just moved here!
Funk: We’re a real country!
Haglund: And I’m the newst resident of this real country!
Funk: Where abouts in Australia?
Haglund: I moved to Sydney! I’m the newest resident of Sydney, all of three weeks now.
Funk: I’ll come visit, I’m there in a few weeks.
Haglund: Fantastic! I’m doing a show on July 22nd over at Marrickville at a place called the Camelot Lounge.
Funk: I know the place.
Haglund: Do you really? I’ll be there!
Funk: We’ll try and get there. Let’s talk about the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen…
Haglund: Oh yes, we have to talk about that!
Funk: For people who haven’t seen that episode, what was unusual about that story as it transpired?
Haglund: We didn’t know it at the time, but when we were filming it in March 2000 we stopped a plane from flying into the World Trade Centre before it actually happened. It actually aired 8 months before the actual 9/11 happened. There we were, basically seeing our pilot episode played out in real life.
Funk: In the most terrifying way possible.
Haglund: Completely terrifying. In our episode we gained control of the computer controlled airplanes at the last moment, hacked it in, and gave control to the pilot so he flew just over the top of the World Trade Centre.
Funk: Of all the buildings that could have been chosen for that episode, it was the World Trade Centre.
Haglund: To be fair Vince Gilligan, who wrote Breaking Bad, wrote that episode and he said, more shocked than anyone about this, he said that he got the idea from a Tom Clancy novel. So Tom Clancy had written about this, we The Lone Gunmen had shown this, and then it actually happened. It freaked everybody out.
Funk: I can only imagine what it must have been like seeing it play out, but when you go online and you get the real life conspiracy bloggers, not the fictional Lone Gunmen but the real one…
Haglund: The ones I’ve met!
Funk: I’m going to ask you about that in a sec! You get accusations that the inspiration for the attacks came from your show. How can you respond to that?
Haglund: You can’t, really. There’s no way of proving where the inspiration was. I’ve had other people say that they had a whole series of plans and when they saw that they assumed there was some sort of inside information so they made that their ‘A’ plan and that sort of thing. That’s a lot of weight to put on artists who are connected into some larger subconscious group energy as it were so I don’t think it was a direct…I don’t think Al-qaeda watched The Lone Gunmen one afternoon and went ‘hey, you know what’s a good idea? That!’ and started it up.
Funk: I don’t know, maybe we should check the Amazon DVD sales…
Haglund: Maybe we could follow the IP address from every sale of the DVD!
Funk: Yeah, does Amazon and NSA do that?
Haglund: I believe they do! They have that kind of dragnet information. That’s easy.
Funk: I wonder if they’re watching me…
Funk: Honestly, I did order a bunch of Nazi propaganda of Amazon.
Funk: May mail just slowed…I’m getting funny looks around the room, I TEACH propaganda studies, ok! Stop looking at me like that! (Background laughter) There’s a reason!
Haglund: You teach propaganda studies?
Funk: I teach all sorts of media, and my mail slowed right down, boxes were retyped after that.
Funk: I think it actually happens.
Haglund: I’m sure it does because, as Edward Snowden pointed out, the NSA has their fingers in a lot of pies…
Funk: Like my pie.
Haglund: Exactly! Mine as well! My email has been…I started researching my character by meeting the real life counterparts of the Lone Gunmen. Jordan Maxwell, Dr. Roger Leir, Nick Pope, guys in the UFO and conspiracy world…by them emailing me suddenly I’m on some funny mail filter over at the NSA.
Haglund: I know.
Funk: Was your character a direct basis of a real person?
Haglund: Yeah, apparently James Wong and Glen Morgan (producers and writers) were walking through an airport in some small city and there were three guys at a table, one with long hair, one had a leather jacket and one with a suit. They were handing out UFO information brochures, in an airport of all things – wouldn’t happen now, and they thought that was hilarious and they should put that in a TV show some day in the future. Lo and behold the Gunmen come up and they start writing for it in first season and they put in those three characters. So they were based on real people.
Funk: you say you’ve met real conspiracy theorists…are they nuts?
Haglund: Here’s the thing: you try to refute what they say. Like ‘surely this can’t happen’, and then, because they spend their lives researching this, they put so much information…pamphlets, official documents, redacted FBI files…all this stuff that you sort of connect from A to B and make that a weird conspiracy, but it seems like a very clear line of unrefuted “evidence” that it makes it very hard to debate without going into the same amount of research to counteract it. Though it seems very, the way they’re presenting it, it seems very factual.
Funk: Is there any conspiracy that you buy in to?
Haglund: That I buy in to?
Funk: Or one you support?
Haglund: It’s hard to support a conspiracy. The thing about being a conspiracy theorist because, at the end, when the truth actually comes out all you can say is ‘I told you so’. Before Edward Snowden I was saying the NSA listens to your phone calls, and they do all that, and everyone says “well, you were on The X-Files and you have a conspiracy and blah blah blah’. Then when it comes out that they were doing all that and everyone says “oh, you were right all along” and all you say is “I told you so”. It’s not like I can change my phone or stop my emails.
Funk: And we’ve both had that experience.
Funk: You believe me, right?!
Haglund: (Laughs) I believe you, especially if you’re buying tonnes of Nazi stuff of Amazon, gee whiz!
Funk: Totally innocent I swear!
Haglund: If you’re teaching propaganda studies, what a better way to start!
Funk: They were the best.
Haglund: They were very good at it, absolutely.
Funk: They were the best at THAT and nothing else.
Haglund: And Hugo Boss made their outfits and IBM made the computers that started the cataloguing system used in some of the camps. These are all horrible lineages of major corporations that they don’t talk about in their history books. But to say that, you become the whack-a-mole all of a sudden.
Funk: Before we wrap up, you’re very well known for one particular role. If there something else you like people to know you for?
Haglund: Last night we did a hilarious improve comedy show, Gary Jones and I live on stage. A massive amount of people laughing their heads off. I will be here performing comedy all through Australia for the next two years. On July 22nd come and check me out at the Camelot Lounge in Marrickville. From there I’ll be at the Celebrity Theatre Sports in Melbourne for the July 25th weekend. On the 19th I’ll be Geeks of Comedy in Wellington, New Zealand. I’m very busy.
Funk: Thanks for talking to us, great to meet you!
Haglund: Absolutely, take care of yourself online!