But Krycek was no ordinary agent. He was just another pawn in a massive conspiracy chess game with the players cloaked in shadows. And Mulder and Scully were the knights of justice standing guard.

"I think Gillian felt lucky to be able to go away, have her child and still have the show available when she came back," grins Lea wryly. "They care a great deal about her, so they made it easy for her."

In television history, when actors get temporary jobs such as this, they tend to disappear when the regular star returns to the show. In Lea's case, Alex Krycek didn't disappear. He became so enormously popular with the show's fans and with the series producers, that they gave him a recurring role stretching over 11 episodes beginning with first season's "Sleepless," and most recently with the fourth season's tension filled two-parter drama, "Terma" and "Tunguska," imprisoning Mulder and Krychek in a Russian gulag.

Since the success of his X-FILES appearances, Lea's acting schedule increased with many television appearances and now finally, he has a starring role in a series adaptation of John Woo's crime actioner ONCE A THIEF filmed in Toronto, Canada with Sandrine Holt and Ivan Sergei.

In the history of SF-TV, very few shows have made that leap beyond mere cultism and into mainstream acclaim and awards. STAR TREK in its various incarnations and TWILIGHT ZONE are two series examples that have done this. Like STAR TREK and the 1960s BATMAN series, X-FILES has also spawned a feature film, set for theaters this summer.

In the course of writing THE X-FILES feature, creator Chris Carter had actually included Krycek as a participant in the major events, but as Lea explains, "I was in Toronto shooting ONCE A THIEF so there was no time [to be available for the feature]. They wrote four or five drafts, a couple I was involved in, but the one they decided on I wasn't in."

In Lea's mind, THE X-FILES' success is very simple. "Quality and integrity meets fascinating subject matter," he says. "Chris Carter is a very, very creative person. He and his team are fantastic people and very smart so their creativity led to my good fortune. If the show wasn't done properly, nobody would watch it. There's countless examples of stuff like that on television - shows that try to mimic X-FILES - they aren't as good and nobody really watches them.

"They cast good actors. Mitch [Pileggi], David [Duchovny] and Gillian [Anderson] are wonderful in their roles and bring the show to life.

"I have a great deal of loyalty to them because of the way they've treated me."

But success can be very painful for certain individuals. Lead actors Duchovny and Anderson have been living in Vancouver, Canada away from home in Los Angeles, for the last four years. In a desire to be closer to family and friends, both Duchovny and Anderson publicly expressed their hopes that the series' sixth season be filmed in Los Angeles, sparking a controversy that bounced like a pinball from the studio, to the fans, to the series' production crews and to the residents of Vancouver.

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