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Actors Who Were on The X-Files Before They Were Famous

Actors Who Were on The X-Files Before They Were Famous

For 11 seasons, The X-Files led viewers on a wild chase to uncover a truth that was always out there, no matter how deep it was buried. An influential one in the genre, the sci-fi series combines elements of crime procedurals and paranormal mysteries like never before by dragging a spooky Mulder and skeptical Scully into battles with murderers, aliens, murderous aliens, and forces beyond human understanding.



Most of the episodes in the series followed a “monster-of-the-week” approach, but The X-Files also had an overarching mystery about government conspiracies and mitigated arcs that went on for seasons. Debuting in 1993, it arrived at the height of people’s intrigue surrounding aliens and the Area 51 fever, which only hooked the audiences more to its brilliant premise.

The X-Files poster

The X-Files

Release Date
September 10, 1993

Main Genre


While it maintained the atmospheric chills and cleared the way for more supernatural/sci-fi TV shows, the series also features a dozen guest stars, actors who had yet to make it big in the industry. Early in their careers, stars like Ryan Reynolds, Shia LaBeouf, and Bruce Campbell showcased talent and promise beyond their years. Looking back, it seems as if The X-Files was foretelling their future success in movies and television.

10 Tony Shalhoub

Long before his multiple Primetime Emmy wins for Monk, Tony Shalhoub cut his teeth in a silly but terrifying X-Files episode. In season two, episode 23 titled “Soft Light,” Shalhoub plays the role of Dr. Chester Ray Banton. Banton is a physicist who is so obsessed with the idea of dark matter that through rigorous experimentation, he turns his own shadow into a void that burns anyone who walks into it. After watching Patrick Newirth, a hotel guest evaporate in front of his eyes, Banton flees. But Dana and Fox are hot on his heels.

Tony Shalhoub Shows His Talent Early On in The X-Files

Shalhoub went on to demonstrate his remarkable gift for acting in roles that walked a thin line between good and evil. He first became the obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk, blessing us with one of the most deeply understandable characters in the genre. He also lent humor to supporting parts in movies and was awarded an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Abe Wiessman in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

9 Seth Green

He is now popular for voicing Chris Griffith in Family Guy, but Seth Green made his debut in television and movies by taking up small roles. In “Deep Throat,” the second episode of the first season, Seth Green played the role of Emil. He is a teenager trespassing into a military base with his girlfriend Zoe, when the two catch a glimpse of a UFO flying overhead. Later, he is seen narrating his experience to Dana and Fox while being treated to a meal.

Seth Green Showcasing His Wit

The role was brief but crucial to the episode. Post X-Files, Green would bounce between cult hits like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and movies like Can’t Hardly Wait and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Clearly, Green has a natural skill for showcasing his wit and letting his comedic timing and range shine in the unlikeliest roles. Nearly four decades in the industry and Seth Green is still a genre mainstay.

8 Jane Lynch

A legendary scene-stealer in comedies, Jane Lynch had an excellent appearance in a “monster-of-the-week” episode of The X-Files. In season nine, episode five, “Lord of the Flies,” Lynch plays the role of Anne Lokensgard, an authoritative and formidable school principal to Aaron Paul’s David. The episode was also Paul’s guest-star appearance before he became known for Breaking Bad. It is later revealed that Anne is actually some sort of human-insect hybrid.

Jane Lynch Shows Off Her Horror Skills

Lynch’s cunning and calculated side was a testament to how impactful her work was on the audience. It was the first time she showcased her skills for blending comedy and horror in the most sublime ways. Since then, she has shone, among others, as Sue Sylvester in Glee, Paul Rudd’s boss in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Sophie Lennon in Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Whether nurturing or naughty, Lynch always generated laughter and her performances remain poignant and memorable.


10 Essential X-Files Episodes You Can’t Skip

Some episodes relate to the show’s mythology, character arcs, and central plot. Others represent the very best episodes that The X-Files has to offer.

7 Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer won an Academy Award for her role in The Help, and the actress’ ability to portray feminine strength and steely resolve has been apparent in movies like Hidden Figures, Gifted, and The Shape of Water. While having built an incredible career around her gifts, it took Spencer a while to come into the limelight.

Octavia Spencer in an Early Boundary-Pushing Role

In an early standout role, Octavia played the role of a nurse at a mental hospital in season 7, episode 4, titled “Millenium,” which was a crossover episode. As Spencer continues to choose roles that push boundaries, highlight tough and intelligent women, and start hard conversations, rest assured we will be graced with more remarkable turns.

6 Titus Welliver

Long before Bosch joined the long line of complex antiheroes on television, Titus Welliver popped in on an episode of The X-Files. In season one’s “Darkness Falls,” Welliver played Doug Spinney, an eco-terrorist who is disturbed by the presence of a swarm of insects that only come out at night. He is seen walking around conversing with Mulder as they try to investigate the matter.

Titus Welliver Was a Fan of The X-Files Before Appearing in an Episode

To Entertainment Weekly, Titus Welliver revealed in an interview that he was a fan of The X-Files long before he made a guest appearance. He said, “I thought the show was really good. I thought it was intelligent and I thought the acting was good, the writing was good… I love science fiction and I was fortunate enough that this role, Doug Spinney, came along and they cast me.”

5 Perrey Reeves

In the seventh episode of the second season, titled “3,” which is a monster-of-the-week episode and is not interconnected to the overall mythology of the series, Perrey Reeves makes a guest appearance as a young woman named Kristen Kilar. The character partakes in some vampiric activities. But later, she ends up blowing up a house she’s in to kill other vampires.

One of the First Complex Women Perrey Reeves Played

Reeves has excelled at playing complex women ever since. From being a recurring character in Entourage to making guest appearances in NCIS, Murder She Wrote, and Grey’s Anatomy, she has chosen parts that are nuanced, intense, and mildly humorous. Reeves is also known for her roles in indie darlings like Old School and Smoke Signal.

4 Mark Pellegrino

As a fry cook with a criminal record as a seventh-season standout, Mark Pellegrino left an indelible mark on television with his edge. He played the role of Derwood Spinks in an episode titled “Hungry,” which was about a man who develops a taste for the human brain and tries to be someone else by leading a normal life but is consumed by his desires. Spinks ends up becoming one of his victims.

One of Mark Pellegrino’s First Intriguing Roles

Pellegrino later refined his talents by playing even more intriguing roles. He is known for starring as Lucifer in the long-running TV series Supernatural, Paul Bennett in Dexter, and Jacob in Lost. Whether stylish or sinister, Pellegrino knows when to turn on the charm and when to let the darkness spill.

3 Laurie Holden

Before the world fell apart in The Walking Dead, and she was forced to do everything in her power to keep her family together, Laurie Holden made recurring appearances as Marita Covarrubias in The X-Files. She was initially introduced in the fourth season’s opening episode “Herrenvolk” as an informant for FBI Agent Fox Mulder but was later revealed to be working as an assassin for Syndicate.

Laurie Holden Had a Crucial Role in The X-Files

Holden was more than just a guest actor, her arc was vital to The X-Files’ primary narrative. After the show, she went on to portray more complex women pushed to their limits with heartbreaking novelty. From The Mist and The Americans to the very recent turn as Crimson Countess Holden in The Boys, Holden excels at portraying every character she plays.


22 Famous Actors You Probably Forgot Were on The X-Files

Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have had surprising and early roles on The X-Files. Here are some of the most recognizable.

2 Jack Black

In one of his earliest, fresh-faced roles, Jack Black caught our attention as an offbeat arcade worker in The X-Files’ “D.P.O.,” which is the third episode of the third season. The episode was a stand-alone, and it saw Scully and Mulder investigate a case about a teenager (played by Giovanni Ribisi) who murders people with his lightning powers. Black played a character named Zero, who was eventually also struck by lightning.

Jack Black Was on The X-Files Before His Breakthrough Movie Roles

His breakthrough performance was in the 2000’s High Fidelity, but Black rose to universal fame after making weird and wonderful hits like School of Rock, Tropic Thunder, and Goosebumps. He has also voiced Po in the Kung Fu Panda franchise. Whether playing a music video star or a comical leading man, his roles are always vibrant and soulful, and he strikes the perfect balance between zany adventurous fun and heart-melting poignancy.

1 Bryan Cranston

Written by Vince Gilligan and directed by Rob Bowman, The X-Files’ season six, episode two, “Drive,” features a memorable guest appearance from none other than Bryan Cranston. He played the antagonist, Patrick Crump, a desperate man who breaks the law to save her life after the military authorities implant something in her head. Mulder is stuck in the car with him, and he must determine if Crump is deranged or if the government conspiracy is true.

Bryan Cranston Appeared in Several Series Before His Big Break

Almost a decade before he was popping in on The X-Files, Cranston made minor appearances in Baywatch, Airwolf, and Hill Street Blues. But his riveting turn as Crump awakened something in Gilligan, and he chose Cranston as the leading antihero for his upcoming series, Breaking Bad. As Walter White, Cranston radiated menace but was also sympathetic, which showcases the actor’s endless devotion to the art.

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