‘The X-Files’ Writer Who Cast Jesse Ventura Said the Wrestler Was Totally Different Than He Expected
The X-Files is a 90s TV classic. While the show deals with conspiracy theories, extra-terrestrial life, and paranormal activity, it’s also just really funny. One of the most comedic episodes of The X-Files is the season 3 hit “Jose Chung From Outer Space.” Part of its humor derives from the “men in black” characters, who are played by Alex Trebek and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. However, the wrestler/former governor of Minnesota was nothing like The X-Files writer expected him to be in person.
‘The X-Files’ writer wanted to work with wrestler Jesse Ventura over anyone else for the season 3 episode ‘Jose Chung’
Darin Morgan is the television writer behind the iconic X-Files episode, “Jose Chung From Outer Space.” Every so often in the episode, what appears to be “men in black” show up, threatening people who claim they saw or were abducted by aliens to stop talking about it.
Morgan, whose brother Glenn was a more experienced writer on The X-Files, felt completely green as a scribe on the series. He thought “Jose Chung” might be the last thing he’d ever write.
“OK, this might be the last chance to work with any actor,” Morgan told the host of the podcast The X-Files Files, comedian Kumail Nanjiani. “Who do I want to work with? Out of everyone … my choice was Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura.”
When Nanjiani inquired as to why Ventura over anyone else, Morgan hinted at a bit of wrestling nostalgia.
“I was a wrestling fan as a kid and Jesse the Body was my favorite wrestler,” he said.
Why the wrestler Jesse Ventura was Morgan’s favorite
“He was a terrible wrestler,” Morgan admitted about Ventura. For Morgan, it was more about the personality. “… his interviews and commentary, I just thought they were hilarious.” The X-Files writer was very into his “persona,” which centered around being braggadocious and over-the-top.
“He’s very charismatic,” Nanjiani replied on the podcast The X-Files Files.
“I wrote the part for him,” Morgan said of Ventura. The other man in black in the season 3 episode is, hilariously, the host of Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek. Morgan originally imagined someone different for Trebek’s part — Salman Rushdie, oddly enough — but the producers wanted someone else.
‘The X-Files’ writer didn’t expect Jesse Ventura to be ‘The Body’ in real life
“I cast him and was all excited,” Morgan said of Ventura. “And then I met him and then I realized that his persona wasn’t really an act.” Onset, Ventura was not at all what the X-Files writer expected.
When Morgan asked Ventura why he only served one term as mayor of a Minnesota town, the wrestler explained, unironically, that it was because he’s a “Jeffersonian.” When Morgan went to laugh, he realized Ventura wasn’t even joking. He “wasn’t trying to be funny,” the writer said.
“It was just him,” Nanjiani said on the podcast. “There’s no Jesse Ventura, there’s only ‘The Body.’”
“I had to kind of readjust,” Morgan explained. However, it didn’t hurt the X-Files episode one bit.
“That can work really well for an actor because you don’t want that character to think he’s funny,” Nanjiani replied.
“He was perfect for the part,” Morgan confirmed. “He did everything I could have ever hoped for.”