Why ‘The X-Files’ Cast Member Who Played Skinner Had to Audition 3 Times

The X-Files, the FOX TV series that began airing in 1993, starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI Agents hunting supernatural crime. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Assistant Director, the character named Walter Skinner, also played a major role in the show. The cast member behind AD Skinner, Mitch Pileggi, explained why he had to try out for a role on The X-Files three different times.

‘The X-Files’ actor Mitch Pileggi joined the TV show’s cast in season 1

Mitch Pileggi in The X-Files
Mitch Pileggi as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner on The X-Files | FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

In a 2015 New York Post article recapping an X-Files press event, the publication reported Pileggi’s comments about his character, AD Skinner. In his performance, the actor was very inspired by a close family member.

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

Other relatives also noticed the similar personality traits between the two men, one fictional, the other real. Pileggi choked back tears as he recalled the memories. The X-Files cast member credited executive producer Chris Carter for the incredible experience.

“He gave me a wonderful character I could do that with,” Pileggi gushed.

FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner is an important character in the sci-fi series

However, Pileggi didn’t start off on the best foot with Carter. Per a Dallas Morning News interview, the actor’s casting journey on The X-Files was not quite simple.

“Before Skinner, I had gone in to read for the show twice. They were for smaller characters,” Pileggi said. He explained why he didn’t get those parts:

At the time, my head was shaved. It’s shaved again now and it was for the new episodes of The X-Files. But back then, Chris Carter didn’t think it was right look for those characters.

Pileggi eventually got called back a third — and final — time to read for the character of Walter Skinner. By then, his demeanor had changed.

“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 admitted.

Actors Mitch Pileggi, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, and William B. Davis onstage during Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2016 | Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Wizard World

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However, that was apparently the key to the role. (That, and Pileggi’s bald head, we supposed, was finally the right look).

“It was exactly the attitude that Chris wanted for Walter Skinner,” Pileggi remembered. “In retrospect, I was fortunate I didn’t get cast for either of those earlier roles.”

Pileggi appeared in both movies — ‘The X-Files: Fight the Future‘ and ‘The X-Files: I Want to Believe’ — as well as the reboot

When it came to FOX’s X-Files reboot that aired in 2016, Pileggi had no hesitation.

“It took only a few seconds for me think about it when they invited me back,” the actor explained to the Dallas paper. Of Skinner, Pileggi said:
“I love this character.”

“I love working on this show. I love working with these people,” he continued.

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Getting the band back together, so to speak, was “very special” for Pileggi.

The X-Files is a huge part of my life and a huge part of my career,” he said. “There have been a lot of opportunities made available to me because of The X-Files. So it was really a treat to be able to go back and play this character again.”