‘The X-Files’ Actor Mitch Pileggi on How Auditioning With an ‘Attitude’ Got Him Cast as Skinner

The X-Files, the 90s-era TV series starring actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, is a sci-fi classic. One of the most prominent characters on the show (aside from Agent Scully and Agent Mulder) is Walter Skinner, the Assistant Director at the FBI. But Mitch Pileggi, the actor who played Skinner, revealed in an interview that he had to audition for The X-Files several times. This meant that he came into that last casting session with an “attitude.” However, that actually worked out for Pileggi.

Mitch Pileggi, who was cast as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner on ‘The X-Files’, explains how he got the part

Agents Skinner and Scully on The X-Files
Assistant Director Skinner (played by Mitch Pileggi) and Agent Dana Scully (played by Gillian Anderson) in the 2000 X-Files episode “Brand X” | FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Pileggi explained his casting process for The X-Files.

“Before Skinner, I had gone in to read for the show twice. They were for smaller characters,” he said.

The creator of the popular TV series, Chris Carter, apparently didn’t think Pileggi had the “right look” for either part. His shaved head — and his feelings of rejection due to the previous auditions — however, would come in handy.

“When I came back to read for Skinner, I had a bit of an attitude because I was a little miffed that I hadn’t gotten the parts the other times,” Pileggi recalled. While in most job interviews, that’s a red flag, for Carter, it made for an easy casting decision.

“It was exactly the attitude that Chris wanted for Walter Skinner,” Pileggi said. All in all, the actor is thankful that it played out the way it did.

Mitch Pileggi - The X-Files actor
Actor Mitch Pileggi from The X-Files | Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

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“In retrospect, I was fortunate I didn’t get cast for either of those earlier roles,” Pileggi shared. He also joined The X-Files 2016 reboot on FOX.

“It took only a few seconds for me think about it when they invited me back,” Pileggi told the Dallas Morning News about the X-Files reboot. “I love this character. I love working on this show. I love working with these people.”

In many episodes of ‘The X-Files’, Pileggi’s character reminded him of his own father

The New York Post also reported on Pileggi’s take on his X-Files character, Watler Skinner, at a press event for the reboot.

“The character very much is very similar to my father,” he acknowledged. “His bearing and demeanor seeped into what I was doing as Skinner.”

Pileggi even started to tear up when talking about the similarities between his dad and his character.

“Pileggi added that his family even recognized his father in Skinner when they first watched the original series,” the Post wrote.

“He gave me a wonderful character I could do that with,” Pileggi said of The X-Files creator Chris Carter.

Actor Mitch Pileggi (AKA Skinner) also met his wife while filming season 3 of the sci-fi TV series

Pileggi also told the Dallas publication about meeting his current wife on the set of The X-Files. The actor first spotted Arlene Warren on set while shooting season 3.

“She was Gillian’s photo double on the show,” Pileggi explained. However, the X-Files cast member hadn’t interacted with Warren much before.

“She was usually on second unit being Gillian,” Pileggi continued, “but there was one episode when she played a waitress in a scene that Gillian, David, and I were doing.”

As soon as Pileggi saw Warren he asked, “Who’s that?”

The X-Files premiere - cast
Mitch Pileggi and wife Arlene Warren | Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

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“That’s Arlene,” Duchovny apparently told him. “Everybody knows Arlene.”

However, Pileggi didn’t.

“And I swear, I said, ‘I’m going to marry her,’” Pileggi recalled. And that’s exactly what happened.

“I had no intention at that point of ever getting married again, but I was so thunderstruck,” Pileggi gushed about his wife. “And we got married eight months later.”

Per IMDb, Warren later appeared as AD Skinner’s assistant on the show.