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Brian Thompson - actor, "X-Files" / "Star Trek" / "Key West" / "Dragonheart"
July 22, 2000 - San Diego Comic Con International

As one of the most recognizable character actors in Hollywood, Brian Thompson has been seen in countless films and TV shows portraying countless roles. Recently, he is perhaps best known as the "clone killer" alien in his recurring role on the X-Files. His character is as menacing as his looks, but there may be more to him than we are yet led to believe. Brian certainly cannot be missed, with his uniquely chiseled face and muscular build. However tough he may appear on the outside, he has also played gentler, romantic and even more comedic roles; or at least appeared in such films.

You may know him from such films as "Dragonheart" as well as seen him on TV, aside from aforementioned "X-Files," he had a great role in the short-lived TV series "Key West," in the early 1990s, in which he played a rather quirky, none-too-bright sheriff in the infamous Florida location.

Brian was at the Comic Con International in San Diego this past summer [2000] signing autographs and chatting with fans. We had a chance to sit down with him to find out just what is behind his most formidable appearance, as well ask ask about his take on his character's role in the "X-Files." What we found was a guy who really enjoys his work and relishes all that it brings. He did appear to have a subtly eccentric air about him and is certainly happy with his talents. Most definitely he did love to entertain the crowd in his own way.

K2K: When did you first get into acting?
BT: I started acting in high school in 1977. I played Boris Kolenkhov in "You Can't Take It With You." When I got into college, I continued on the same program, getting as many plays as I could. I got a degree in acting - a Masters of Fine Arts - from the University of California in Irvine. While I was in school there, in the early 1980s, I landed a job at Universal Studios and an agent, and by the time I graduated I had my side job, my 5¢ jobs, and had filmed the original "Terminator." That was my very first film job.

K2K: What part did you play in that?
BT: I was one of the punk rockers. Bill Paxton and I were the two punk rockers from whom Arnold stole our clothes.

K2K: From the "Terminator," what did you do next?
BT: Well, there were television jobs in there, but the second movie that I did was a year later. It was "Cobra," with [Sylvester] Stallone.

(At this point, we peruse his career checklist sheet on the table)

K2K: In looking at this, I've probably seen most of your career here.
BT: That's about a third of my resumé actually. I just don't put it all on there anymore. I've done about 27 feature films and, like, 100 television shows. (He points down to the sheet) See, right there, go to www.brianthompson.com. There is a whole resumé there and all the pictures and everything. You can find anything you want there.

K2K: What is your nationality? You have a very Scandinavian look.
BT: My mother is 100% Finnish and my father was English and American Indian. His bloodline is very, very.... very, very...

K2K: What happened to "Key West?" That was one of my favorite shows on TV.
BT: "Key West." Oh God, I loved "Key West." In the ratings game, we were low in the ratings. We took thumps on the ratings after we had done 13 episodes. We did 13 and they aired them. It was announced that we were canceled after about the seventh, but then they went ahead and re-ran several of the shows.

K2K: Not where I was.
BT: You're right. Fox is a syndicate so they might not have run it. But they were dropping it... I think that it had quite an intelligent audience. They would have had to have really advertised the show and given us a better time slot and not bounced it around, really tried to get it to develop a following. After 13 episodes, if something is still in the bottom 10 in the ratings, and you're the head of the company that has to make money - what are you going to do.

K2K: Well, the "X-Files" didn't seem to do so well at the beginning but they continued and look what happened. I don't think that they give some of these shows a fair enough chance, to take the time to nurture it.
BT: Was the "X-Files" poorly rated? I didn't think it was poorly rated. Not in the bottom 10.

K2K: Speaking of the "X-Files," what exactly are you in the show?
BT: I am the alien version of David Duchovny. I am doing exactly what he does, but I'm from an alien source. That's the way I play it. I'm just "doing my job."

(A fan approaches and some mention comes up about Trader Joe's, the excellent "alternative" grocery store)

K2K: You're a Trader Joe's endorser now.
BT: I endorse Trader Joe's full-heartedly. Fool-heartedly? No, full-heartedly.

K2K: So, back to your role on "X-Files." What is your purpose?
BT: My purpose is to keep the planet free of unauthorized aliens and their clones. The governmental body that I work for has declared Earth a place that needs to be developed without the assistance of aliens. So unauthorized colonies and propagation of other aliens here, we feel is wrong.

K2K: So, are you a "good" alien or a "bad" alien at that point?
BT: I am a good alien.

K2K: But "we" don't see it that way or know it? I mean like David Duchovny.
BT: We just spent three months together on a space ship, so he's learning.

K2K: It seemed to me that the series kind of ended last year [Season finale, summer 1999]. I wasn't too thrilled with the past Season.
BT: Yeah, I know there were a few shows that were kind of "quiet." I don't know what was happening there.

K2K: How long do you see it going on?
BT: Forever and ever. Forever. With [Duchovny] and without him.

K2K: Are you still going to have recurring roles?
BT: I have no idea. I certainly love my involvement in the show and I think it's wonderful that this bounty hunter can appear at any time. Knowing that he's always out there is a very clever bit of structuring. They could kill me off and, like in "T2", come back. What are we? Replicants? Androids with certain animal characteristics? Who knows? I can always come back. They can kill me and I'll come back. "My brother who looks just like me..." will show up.

K2K: What are you actually killing aliens with?
BT: We call that the "gimlet weapon." It's a very, very sharp, round, stiletto that retracts.

K2K: Why use that as opposed to an ice pick, knife or anything else?
BT: It just looks a lot cooler than an ice pick.

K2K: (In looking at the career sheet) "Fright Night II" is also one of my favorite movies.
BT: It's a giggle. Although you're doing this scary stuff, you're doing a comedy.

(At this point, a couple - foreign in accent - approach and inquire about autographed photos. Brian asks them which one they would like signed and they take it. They look baffled when Brian explains to them that it is not free - as the pricing sign in front of them clearly states - and they make mention that they have no money. They leave the photo on the table. An interesting scenario for a couple who appear to be well-dressed tourists and are attending a huge convention.)

K2K: What roles did you appear in on Star Trek?
BT: Lt. Klag in ST:TNG (episode "Matter Of Honor"), Inglatu in ST:DSN (episode "Rules Of Acquisition"), and Toman'torax on ST:DSN (episode "To The Death"). Also the Klingon helmsman in Star Trek "Generations."

K2K: Are you going to be in "T3"?
BT: (laughs) Who can say. I haven't heard that.

K2K: Favorite role that you've ever done?
BT: Sheriff Cody in "Key West."

K2K: Does "Key West" hold the same memories as it does for us diehard fans?
BT: I just loved that show. I lived on that show.

K2K: What did you like best?
BT: I liked getting to absorb a completely non-violent human being who loves everybody. That's a wonderful place to visit every week. In the parts that I played before, and subsequently, you've got to go visit vile places.

K2K: I always picture you getting cast in those harder type of roles.
BT: In the fact of my look, I seldom had my shirt off in any of these. The size hasn't been so terribly important in a lot of the roles.

K2K: Well, you always wear a suit in the "X-Files." It's a nice intergalactic gangster look.
BT: Intergalactic gangster. OK. Sort of, it is.

K2K: Do you ever expect to get cast in more romantic or comedic roles?
BT: Yeah, a third of the feature films that I've done are comedies. I've done leads in two movies, a long time ago, and had been offered leads in movies at a time when I had more "lucrative" television work. So I turned them down.

K2K: Would you say that you are getting more and more recognized now?
BT: It definitely grows every year. Especially with the recent "Jason And The Argonauts" series. A lot of people saw that. Also, the high profile of the "X-Files."

K2K: You are one of those people who I would see on TV or film and wonder what you would be like in person. It was hard to type you. You seem so mellow. You never know. You could've been shy and quiet or arrogant with a lot of issues.
BT: Like Ling on "Ally McBeal." I wonder what she's like in real life. She's like the coldest person on TV. What is she like?

K2K: What other projects are coming up for you?
BT: A Sci-Fi film called "Epoch," should be out in Fall or Christmas [2000]. "The Adventures Of Joe Dirt" is another comedy with Adam Sandler producing, David Spade starring, Dennis Miller co-starring, Christopher Walken, Rosanna Arquette... It's a huge cast. It's hysterical. I've never laughed so hard while making a movie.

K2K: What was Christopher Walken like?
BT: I didn't get to work with him. I only worked with David Spade.

K2K: Any final things you want to talk about?
BT: (Lets out an extreme yawn)

With that, we moved on as the throngs of fans kept pouring in to meet Brian. Later on that night, to note, we all met up at a party that was thrown by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund where Brian bit into a loaded jalepeño pepper and promptly showered this writer with juice. Party bonding is always interesting.

Written by Philip Anderson / Photos © Erik Gilbert 

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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